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California Hotel Breaks New Ground in Sustainability (Part 1)

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Hilton Concord
A worker loads one of the Electrolux soft-mount washer-extractors used in the Hilton Concord on-premise laundry. (Photo: Laundrylux)

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Hilton Concord
The 329-room Interstate Hotels & Resorts Worldwide property recently completed a $10 million dollar upgrade that focused heavily on sustainability. (Photo: Interstate Hotels & Resorts Worldwide)

Staff Writer |

Hilton Concord revamps OPL with new washers, ozone system, dryers

CONCORD, Calif. — When one thinks about the highlights of a hotel property, they’ll mention amenities, restaurants, and overall service. The on-premise laundry room likely doesn’t figure into even the top 100 features.

But if your business is efficiency and turning a property into the pinnacle of green lodging, the laundry room certainly might warrant top billing.

That’s just the case here at the Hilton Concord. The 329-room Interstate Hotels & Resorts Worldwide property recently completed a $10 million dollar upgrade that focused heavily on sustainability. And the result is a hotel transformed into the standard for efficiency.

SUSTAINABILITY FLAGSHIP

Lead consultant on the project, Charles Smith, CEO of Hotel Sustainability Solutions Inc. (HSSI), says that from the start, the charge was to place the property in a leadership position in terms of sustainability. And in looking at the results, the mission is being accomplished.

“This hotel is light years ahead of the competition,” says Smith, adding that the outcome is the culmination of extraordinary integration, collaboration and cooperation.

Make no mistake, this was an extensive effort, one that involved addressing all facets of the facility. It included incentives and rebates from utility provider Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Smart Lights and Lodging Savers, as well as the Contra Costa Water District.

Taking a leadership position included implementing 33 sustainability initiatives, such as replacing all 6,400 light bulbs with LEDs, adding motion sensors, swapping shower heads with new low-flow heads, adding window film to reduce energy use, a pillow restoration unit, food scrap digester, and much more, even addressing landscaping and exterior lighting that utilizes LEDs and motion-sensing technology.

But whenever peers or Interstate personnel want to learn about the property, the laundry makeover gets top billing.

“The laundry really is one of the highlights whenever anyone wants to see the property,” Smith says.

Ahmet Ibrahim, owner of Roseville, Calif.-based A2Z Laundry Systems, spearheaded the installation of cutting-edge Electrolux laundry equipment at the hotel. He views this facility as the new green lodging standard as well. “This is our model for efficiency.”

PLANNING WINS THE BATTLE

As the hospitality market began to tick upward, finding a sustainability solution became ever more critical.

Becoming the model of efficiency, however, would take some work. The current state of the laundry was rough. Equipment was dated and repairs were mounting, when parts actually could be found to make the fixes. One dryer even had been taken out of service. Still, laundry loads were being processed daily, but the true cost of this dated equipment soon would be uncovered.

As HSSI began the task of evaluating options, key factors considered were the efficiency of the equipment, availability of rebates or incentives, distributor/manufacturer service and support, and the ability to upgrade equipment in the future — ensuring a long, useful life and thereby protecting the initial capital investment.

Though Smith looked at a variety of laundry equipment manufacturers, the goal of creating the model of efficiency guided selection. That meant choosing a brand that delivered on its efficiency claims and had the numbers to prove it, according to Smith.

“Electrolux played a key part in the technology,” he says. “They stood out in the selection of technology available...their prominence caught our attention.”

Electrolux’s global leadership is evident in it being named to the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index in 2012. It was the sixth straight year the firm made the prestigious list, which places it in the top 10% of the 2,500 companies in the Dow Jones Global Indexes with regard to long-term economic, environmental and social performance.

WASH EFFICIENCY LEADS WAY

The Hilton Concord had been using soft-mount washers in the laundry and Smith was committed to staying with this product type because of its high G-force extraction speed versus hard mounts. Soft mounts also were preferable because they don’t require an additional concrete foundation. However, lower installation costs and high G-force extraction would not be enough. Water conservation, utility consumption, and operational efficiency were equally important.

Oddly enough, water savings started at the drain. The Electrolux soft-mount units (two with 145 pounds capacity and one with 60 pounds capacity) that Ibrahim recommended featured a unique pancake drain that helps reduce water consumption during fills. The hotel’s existing units can waste as much as 2 gallons of water per fill because they include a large sump and drain hose in the fill.

Considering a standard of five to six fills per cycle, savings total 10-12 gallons per cycle. Overall, the Hilton Concord is saving 192,960 gallons of water annually in the laundry. When added to the savings realized through guestroom improvements such as low-flow shower heads and toilets as well as other conservation efforts at the property, water savings total more than 525,000 gallons per year.

Savings grew with the addition of an ozone system. Ozone, when injected into the wash cylinder, reportedly increases the effectiveness of laundry chemicals, thus requiring smaller dosages and eliminating the need for hot water.

The majority of the ozone system’s cost was offset through rebates from PG&E and the Contra Costa Water District — the first ever offered by the district.

Check back tomorrow for the conclusion!

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