By Scott Kriner, Green Metal Consulting
During the worst part of winter in the northern states many residents plan trips and vacations to the warmer parts of the country like Florida, the gulf or the desert. Most of these folks are just looking for some comfortable weather and doing things outdoors that they can’t do in the snow, ice and frigid temperatures back home.
I too had the opportunity to head south while we were in the grips of the Polar Vortex but on a trip that was all business with very little fun. Instead of checking out the hotel’s fitness center, pools, spa, restaurants, and beach front, I chose instead to learn how my Florida hotel had achieved LEED Silver status.
The seven-year old hotel achieved points in energy efficiency, indoor air quality, water conservation, resource conservation and green-sensitive transportation in the USGBC green building rating program. As a result, the hotel was the first LEED Silver certified resort in Florida and one of only 10 certified to this level in the country. The planning and use of novel technologies that went into the project are worth noting.
Anyone who has ever been to Florida in the summer knows how important it is to have air conditioning in a building. And those of us who spend many nights on the road are aware of the draft that can occur in a hotel room when the through-the-wall air conditioning units are activated.
As an alternative to typical cooling and heating systems, this hotel chose an energy efficient state-of-the-art chiller system using water as the heat transfer medium rather than Freon. In this system pre-conditioned outside air is supplied to the interior spaces of the hotel which improves air quality and provides added comfort for hotel guests.
Heat Recovery System
Energy from the preconditioned air is recaptured before it is released to the outside. That recovered energy is then transferred to the incoming air before it enters the interior spaces. With this system, fresh air is continuously being provided while the spent inside air is exhausted to the outside. It is also a very energy efficient system.
Low Emitting Materials
In keeping with optimum indoor environmental conditions, the hotel was careful to use specific wood finishes, floor coverings, adhesives, duct sealants and interior paints. These were selected as low impact materials to improve the indoor air quality.
Smart Energy Management Systems
A system monitors room temperatures remotely so that an occupied room can be controlled by the guests, but when the room is unoccupied the temperature can be lowered to conserve energy. The system is equipped with cut-offs installed on the sliding glass doors which minimize wasted energy while the doors are open.
In addition to the smart systems, the glass in the room windows and doors is double pane, laminated and tinted. This of course reduces energy usage, but also reduces sound transmission, and provides UV protection to the guests while providing a connection with the outdoors.
Water conservation systems include water-saving faucets, toilets and shower heads. An advanced technology irrigation system keeps the beautiful landscape watered in a responsible manner. A state-of-the-art laundry system saves hundreds of gallons of water on an annual basis.
Like any hotel construction project, there was plenty of waste generated. In this case however, every bit of waste was accounted for. Over half of the construction waste and debris was diverted from landfill to be recycled. This included metal, wood, concrete, gypsum and plastics.
The Florida sun can be very intensive. To lower the heat island effect that can occur with traditional ground level parking, the hotel chose instead to place the parking area under the hotel building.
The hotel partnered with the “Clean the World” organization by donating the unused soap and shampoo left behind by guests to be recycled. This diverts the material from landfills and allows it to be melted down, sterilized and distributed to impoverished countries in the world.
A geothermal heating system for the pool is used to keep the water warm in the cooler winter months. The water in the pool itself is also sanitized with ozone rather than chlorine which reduces the amount of chemicals needed on the site.
Many of these features from the hotel’s LEED Silver project are also found in other LEED registered Building Design and Construction projects. Seeing them as part of a hotel project shows that just about any type of building project can be planned, designed, constructed and operated in a way to reduce the environmental impact, lower energy consumption, and improve the indoor conditions for the occupants.
In case you were wondering about the specific hotel – it was the Sand Pearl in Clearwater Beach.