Carbon Impact Reduction Made Easier Thanks to Innovative Suppliers

By Glenn Hasek Publisher & Editor, Green Lodging News | April 28, 2019

In a hypercompetitive industry where success is most often defined by growth, keeping one's environmental impact from growing at the same time can be a challenge. Fortunately for hoteliers, supplier innovation is making it easier to operate a hotel or group of hotels in a sustainable manner-without additional excessive waste and costly energy and water consumption.

In the last year, suppliers have introduced products and technologies that have made net zero hotels possible, linens recyclable, "waste" heat more easily recoverable, guestrooms more easily controlled with smart technology, and one bulky waste item more easily condensed into useable product.

Net Zero Hotels & Tesla

Few hotels have reached net zero status but the pieces to put together a net zero hotel are here and ready to go-and at a cost less than typical hotel construction. So says S2A Modular, a Murrieta, Calif.-based company specializing in electrically self-sustaining, custom luxury homes and commercial buildings such as hotels. S2A Modular combines modular construction techniques with Tesla solar panels and Powerwalls (Powerpacks for larger buildings such as hotels) to create structures that get by without electricity provided by a utility. In fact, S2A buildings are built to provide surplus energy to the local utility when possible, creating "surplus energy income" for the building owner.

John Rowland, Co-founder and President of S2A Modular, says his company was launched within the last year and it has put together a team of individuals with significant modular construction, design and engineering experience. Rowland says his team had been specializing in Tesla technology previously and built the second off-grid home in North America.

S2A is currently building an 80-room hotel in northern California. The Tesla technology is very scalable, Rowland says, with no restriction on hotel size. "We can very easily scale the battery," he says.


S2A is in the process of building a factory in California. "It is about 50 percent done," Rowland says. "We expect to have it up and running in summer 2019."

S2A Modular hotels can be built not just in California but anywhere in the United States. "We can facilitate orders with other factories we work with," he says. "They will build to our specifications."

Rowland says developers can cut 8 percent to 10 percent over traditional construction by using the methods engineered by S2A Modular. "A lot of that comes from the time savings," he says.

Recyclable, Never-Laundered Linens

Hotel industry veteran Richard Ferrell, President of Pürlin, LLC, is aiming to revolutionize how sheets and pillow cases are managed in hotels across the United States. His company's linens are not laundered; instead, after being used by a guest they are picked up to be 100 percent recycled. Made of high-quality microfibers designed to simulate cotton-the same as those used in products such as baby diapers and athletic wear-the sheets and pillowcases are produced and recycled by companies based in Florida and North Carolina. Once heated to 500+ degrees Fahrenheit, the linens are liquefied and become the ingredients for making brand new sheets, pillowcases and duvet covers, thus resulting in zero waste.

"This will forever change hotel laundry," Ferrell says. "You will never sleep on a sheet or pillow case that anyone has ever used. It is a paradigm shift that will change the way hoteliers and travelers think about bed linens."

In a typical laundry operation, the quality of cotton-based sheets and pillow cases is diminished over time as laundry detergent, bleaches and other chemicals break down the cellulosic fibers. Stains from women's makeup can also cause laundering issues resulting in the disposal of the damaged item.

Each Pürlin sheet and pillowcase is hypoallergenic and saves water-selling points for any green hotel-and Pürlin will offer tent cards for use in guestrooms to explain the advantages of the linens.

Several years ago, Ferrell attended a conference on water. "It really made me understand the global problems of water and heightened my concern for fresh water which is not a renewable resource," he says. "I learned that it takes 2,800 gallons of water to make one queen-size cotton sheet." He thought there must be a better way. Today, it takes less than one gallon of water to make a Pürlin sheet. Pürlin linens are delivered folded and ready to use, generating additional laundry savings.

Assuming the sheets and pillowcases account for 50 percent of the laundry load, a typical 300-room hotel requires 1.5 million to 1.7 million gallons of water per year to wash those linens, resulting in the creation of 1.5 million to 1.7 million gallons of wastewater. By eliminating 50 percent of the laundry load, Pürlin linens will reduce the costs that have been associated with laundering the bed linens i.e., labor, detergent and chemicals, water and wastewater, electricity, etc., and best of all it eliminates the expensive cost of bed linen replacement.

Laundry Heat Captured for Reuse

Almost five years ago, I reported on a new system, SHARC, that captures and reuses heat that is typically lost to the sewage system-the black water that is flushed down toilets. SHARC Energy Systems is the name of the company in British Columbia that developed the wastewater heat recovery system. The company recently installed its first system at a hotel-the Piranha T10 waste water heat recovery system at the Lake Louise Inn in Lake Louise, Alberta. This time heat is being recovered not from black water but from laundry waste water.

"It is in the laundry room and works flawlessly," says Lynn Mueller, Chairman and CEO of SHARC Energy Systems. "It recovers waste heat from three machines.

The Piranha system's self-contained heat pump uses a proprietary direct expansion heat exchanger to extract thermal energy. Hot water is collected from the inn's laundry machines. Rather than draining into a sewer at 120 to 140 degrees as is the currently accepted waste water practice, the heat energy in the water is recovered. The water acts as a source for a heat pump, which is then used to heat incoming cold water for future loads, drastically reducing energy requirements.

As a result, the Piranha system is providing the following benefits to the Inn:

  •         Will reduce emissions by over 80 tons of CO2 each year, taking the equivalent of 17 cars off the road;
  •         Will reduce the laundry's energy use by 85 percent; and
  •         The savings from each 100 loads of laundry can provide energy for an additional eight days.

Mueller says the Lake Louise Inn had been using propane as the fuel to heat the water for the laundry. That fuel is expensive and dirty. The Inn will save $50,000 a year in propane costs (25,000 gallons) and the environmental impact of trucking in propane has been dramatically reduced. The payback will be about two years. "Even with natural gas the payback is three to four years," Mueller says.

Smart Guestroom Energy Management

At last year's HITEC in Houston, suppliers made it clear they are hip to the latest energy management technologies and prepared for their integration with other systems-those utilizing voice command for example. Telkonet announced it has teamed with Volara, a voice-based hotel guest engagement solution that turns voice into a hospitality business tool. Together, they now offer a hospitality environment in which guests can use voice commands to control intelligent in-room devices and platforms to set scenes within their own hotel rooms. These scenes are able to incorporate one device or many different devices to create the exact environment that a guest requests. Examples include changing temperatures, adjusting shades, dimming lights, adjusting the Do-Not-Disturb and Make-Up-Room signage and more.

Similarly, Honeywell launched its INNCOM INNcontrol 5 energy management and guestroom automation control system. The INNcontrol 5 system provides the open data exchange platform for Internet of Things (IoT) integration with centralized electronic locks, property management systems, in-room entertainment and other systems. INNcontrol 5 is also an entry point for consolidated Alexa voice control of compatible HVAC lighting, drapery and, amenity controls.

Also at HITEC, wireless, cloud-based in-room control and management solutions provider, Evolve Controls, announced the launch of Evolve Guest Interface (eGI), a multi-protocol gateway built into a touch-screen interface device. The eGI device will interface with Z-Wave, Zigbee, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. By addressing the need for multiple protocols, Evolve offers hotels greater flexibility and compatibility for integrations with existing technologies.

The 8? Windows/Intel-based gateway is a simple, yet powerful device that enables guests to control in-room climate, lighting, shading and drapery, as well as other functions to increase efficiencies for both guests and staff. eGI is built upon Evolve's cloud-based Room Operations Control (RoC) platform.

From Glass Bottles to Sand

Late last year, Quipworks Inc. introduced its GLSand, a compact glass bottle crusher that reduces bottles in volume by 10:1 to a safe to handle sand like product. The machine is designed for waste reduction, cost reduction and sustainability for the food, hospitality, and leisure Industries. The GLSand can provide a positive impact on a property's waste reduction goals, and create a usable commodity for landscaping, pavement patching, pool filtration and other uses. A total of 160 small beer bottles or 60 wine or spirit bottles will fill a 5-gallon bucket.

Mr. Hasek Glenn Hasek is publisher and editor of Green Lodging News, a weekly e-mail newsletter now reaching more than 14,000 opt-in subscribers, and a website receiving more than 41,000 unique visitors each month. Green Lodging News covers topics ranging from energy management to water conservation to waste management to green design. Green Lodging News coverage emphasizes breaking news and trends impacting not only the environment and well-being but also the bottom line as well. Mr. Hasek, who has been quoted in many national news publications on green travel, launched Green Lodging News in July 2006. He has more than 25 years of writing and editing experience in the lodging industry. He worked as an editor with Hotel & Motel Management (now Hotel Management) from 1989 to 1996 and then again from 2000 to 2001. He first wrote about environment-related lodging industry news with Hotel & Motel Management in 1990. Mr. Hasek can be contacted at 813-510-3468 or Extended Biography

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