SAUSALITO, Calif. — Cavallo Point — the Lodge at the Golden Gate is one of those rare sites where the past and present mingle in harmony. But this balance didn’t happen overnight or by accident; it was achieved only after a 3½-year, $100 million rehabilitation project with an environmentally conscious approach encompassing all points, including the laundry operation.
The result places Cavallo Point in rare status as a truly green property, one with a laundry that recycles more than 70% of its water.
“We’ve got this incredible storied past,” says John Pittman, director of engineering and environmental affairs at Cavallo Point. Rehabilitation efforts aim to return the 30-acre site, that’s being leased for the lodge, to that past and the way it looked in 1937, Pittman explains, all while minimizing any impact on the property, the buildings themselves and the environment.
RESTORING TO 1937 LOOK
Cavallo Point’s history dates back to 1866 when the U.S. Army acquired the property. The land, which sits in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge, eventually became home to Fort Baker. The post played host to generals, colonels and other Army upper brass through World War II. A product of decommissioning in the 1980s, the historic property later came under the purview of the National Park System as a part of the Golden Gate National Parks.
Today, the property is a component of a partnership of the Fort Baker Retreat Group, National Park Service and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. This collaboration set out with the dual goal of not only restoring the property to its 1937 look (to match the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge), but also reducing the lodge’s carbon footprint.
The group was equally committed to reducing the impact the project would have on land in and around Cavallo Point.
This approach led to an “enormous reduction in construction debris,” Pittman says, adding that great measures were taken to recycle as many materials as possible, including concrete.
Complicating matters was the challenge of bringing the structures up to meet current earthquake code requirements.
“Even when we built ... we used existing foundations and footprints,” Pittman says, adding that steps were carefully taken to minimize even how much ground was disturbed.
So green was this project that few buildings have cooling systems, many have solar collection panels that send power directly to the grid, and many materials were salvaged for use elsewhere on the grounds.
Cavallo Point has done everything possible to recycle and reuse, and when it came to the laundry, that minimal-impact focus continued with the water resources, and even how much wastewater it sent out.
Pittman says this undertaking involved the cooperation of all the key players — equipment distributor, chemicals supplier and staff in charge of quality.
“The equipment needed to be capable of operation without affecting the historic buildings, which could not be modified,” Charles Clark Sr. says of an installation challenge. Clark is sales manager of Taylor Houseman Inc., a Pittsburg, Calif.-based UniMac laundry equipment distributor.
“Cavallo at the same time posed challenges and opportunities in both construction of the laundry and the amount of available utilities the historic site was willing to supply,” Clark adds.
Equally important was creating a laundry that would work in concert with Cavallo Point’s wastewater reclamation system, which recycles roughly 70% of the operation’s wastewater.
“The neat thing about it is ... it not only saves water ... but we’ve seen a huge reduction in how much wastewater we send out,” Pittman says.
The AquaTex 720 system from Wastewater Resources collects wastewater from the laundry and runs it through a 10-micron shaker filter, which removes particulate. Next, the wastewater travels through a 5-micron backwash filter, then an ultraviolet disinfection process before being reintroduced into the wash wheel.
Among the UniMac products Taylor Houseman installed at Cavallo Point were two 80-pound washer-extractors and two 60-pound washer-extractors, all equipped with UniLinc programmable microprocessor controls, as well as three 120-pound drying tumblers. A Hamilton Engineering high-performance water heater supplies hot water to the laundry. Two Sharper Finish flatwork ironers — in widths of 66 inches and 120 inches — are used in finishing linens.
“Water was of particular importance as the disposal of wastewater needed to be very small,” Clark says. “That’s where our UW washer line really had an impact. We were able to supply not only washers which use less water than any other model, but adapted to the aftermarket water reclaim system purchased by Cavallo.”
To watch a video that UniMac has provided on the green aspects of the laundry at Cavallo Point, click here.
In addition to serving the linen needs of 142 guestrooms, the laundry also supports a three-meal, Michelin-recognized restaurant (however, true to its green focus, tablecloths are used only at dinner) and a full-service spa.
The laundry operates with a staff of three and runs over two shifts to meet Cavallo Point’s demands for fresh linen. Again, the facility seeks to limit those demands with a linen reuse program in which bed linens are changed upon guest checkout.
GETTING DESIRED RESULTS
Cavallo Point appears to be delivering results both in quality and efficiency, despite the heavy demands. Pittman has been particularly pleased with the flexibility of the laundry equipment in allowing staff to fine-tune wash and dry formulas to obtain precisely the quality results Cavallo Point requires for guests.
“We’ve been able to moderate the laundry’s finish quality with the available technology ... that’s been huge to us,” Pittman says, adding that the cooperation between all the laundry partners, including representatives from chemical supplier Ecolab, has been imperative to achieving this quality with minimal impact on the environment.
“Cavallo Point illustrates perfectly how fine-tuning cycles and working with your chemical company representative can produce excellent quality while reducing costs and the impact the laundry has on the environment,” says Kim Shady, vice president of distributor sales at UniMac.
Even small savings in wash cycles can add up over the course of a year and the life of a washer-extractor, he adds.
Cavallo Point is seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the work it has done, while it continues its charge with ongoing green initiatives.
The property utilizes motion-detection systems to control lighting, as well as CFL and LED lighting. Guestrooms are equipped for instant hot water with direct-fire, tankless water heaters. Most guestrooms are not air-conditioned, and the property only minimally uses forced air.
Pittman says the lodge is “aggressively looking at ways” to utilize the enormous amount of natural spring water on the property as well as a year-round flow of groundwater.