By Monica Kanojia
Reducing energy consumption by improving the efficiency of buildings in the commercial sector has progressively become standard practice for a broad range of stakeholders given the potential for significant energy cost savings. The Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge (BBC) has more than 345 partners who own or manage over 4.4 billion square feet of building and manufacturing space that have collectively saved an estimated $1.9 billion through the implementation of energy efficiency technologies and strategies. The hospitality sector, which accounts for 3.3 billion square feet, has contributed significantly to overall actualized savings through energy and water efficiency improvements, employee engagement, and by leveraging tools to manage operational consumption.
Recently recognized for its exemplary showcase project, Loews Hotels & Co. is a BBC partner proving that integrating energy projects as a component of typical building upgrades can result in cost savings that can be reallocated to operating budgets. DOE leadership had the opportunity to visit the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, to see the upgrades to the property firsthand during a tour lead by the Loews team. Also in attendance to tour the hotel’s efficiency features were the City of Nashville’s General Services team and BBC Commercial Real Estate partner Lendlease.
The Loews Vanderbilt is a 420,000-square-foot, 11-story property with 351 guest rooms that was identified by Loews leadership for its immense potential for performance improvement. Outdated facility equipment and building systems are often the primary source of wasteful energy consumption. The Loews team flagged the property’s chillers, condenser pumps, roof, and lighting as components long overdue for replacement given their contribution to inefficiency. Keen on leveraging all opportunities for cost savings, the team also set out to integrate water saving technology. Efforts to improve overall building performance and lower operating costs began in 2015 and have resulted in energy savings of 22% and cost savings of $328,250 so far.
By partnering with the local utility the Loews teams was able to secure more than $120,000 in funding through incentive programs, which was put toward the replacement of two 750-ton chillers. The reduction in tonnage resulting from the installation of two Trane 500-ton chillers and new variable frequency drive has contributed to an average monthly savings of about $30,000 for the hotel during summer months. Impressively, the installation of the new chillers took only one weekend day, with no disruption to guest services.
Over 2,000 square feet of the property’s ballroom roof were replaced with a refreshed facade improving its R-value, or insulation effectiveness. Prior to the replacement the building’s overall R-value was below 9%; the installation of the new system has resulted in an R-value of 21%, which places the property 15% above code.
The constant flux of guests can make it difficult to control water consumption, however, the Loews team has been proactive in achieving its performance goals by installing the latest water saving technology. Each hotel room is equipped with the following:
- New Speakman shower heads, which save 30 gallons per guest, per year
- New toilets, which save 2.8 gallons per guest, per year
- New sink aerators, which save 2 gallons per guest, per year
Through the efficiency improvements implemented by the Loews team, the property was able to actualize average water savings of 34.8 gallons per guest, per day.
Additional property updates:
- Installation of a new domestic water triplex pump variable frequency drive system to deliver hot and cold water to the guest rooms, kitchen, and laundry
- Installation of new variable frequency drives on existing chilled water pumps and condenser pumps
- Replacement of water distribution media inside cooling tower
- Installation of new direct-drive elevator hoist motors on seven passenger elevators resulting in savings of over 20% for each
- Replacement of all public lighting fixtures to LEDs
- Implementation of a new water filtration system for all ice machines improving the efficiency of compressors
- Installation of a new thermostat centralized control system that enables control of guestroom fan coil units from the engineering office, allowing for better temperature management across the hotel for guests
The actualized energy savings through property updates, which leveraged high efficiency technology in the place of standard equipment, has motivated the Loews team to continue working toward additional improvements. Evolving plans to add insulation to minimize heat loss, and installation of new hot water boilers are all anticipated to take place this year.
BBC has more than 345 partners who own or manage over 4.4 billion square feet of building and manufacturing space that have collectively saved an estimated $1.9 billion through the implementation of energy efficiency technologies and strategies.