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California Hilton Checks Into Micro-Turbines, Electric Car Charging

Concord, California – In part I of this series, I wrote about sustainability initiatives already implemented at the Hilton Concord, a 30-year-old property located about a half-hour east of San Francisco. The property owner and operator, Interstate Hotels & Resorts, decided to make the Hilton Concord its sustainability flagship, a showpiece to test solutions to be deployed at the 400 properties it owns or manages around the globe.

My guide on a recent tour of the Hilton Concord was Charles A. Smith, CEO, Hotel Sustainability Solutions, Inc., the lead consultant for the sustainability overhaul. In my previous post, I highlighted some of the energy- and water-saving initiatives already installed, such as indoor LED lighting, window film, smart controls, and the Pillow-Vac system. It is a long and impressive list, two-dozen in all, and for the sake of brevity I chose to highlighted just a few.

I did not mention the BioHiTech waste digester that converts 6.5 tons of food waste per month to water sent to a filtration plant for re-use. The system has reduced waste haul outs from two to three monthly to one every three weeks. Nor did I describe the Electrolux Laundry System that spins linens and towels with such force that drying time has been reduced from 20-25 minutes to an average of 5 minutes. In some cases, linens skip the dryer entirely and go directly to the ironing board.

Northern California Hilton Aims To Be Sustainability Flagship: Part I
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Initiatives planned

Here are some initiatives that stand out among those planned for the fourth quarter of 2012 and early 2013:

LEDs outdoors: As I wrote in my first post, nearly all indoor lighting fixtures have been outfitted with dimmable LEDs (light-emitting diodes). The same is planned for fixtures located outdoors. Underneath the porte-cochère, six 175-watt mercury-vapor lamps will be replaced with six 52-watt LED troffers from Cree. In the parking lot, 38 sodium-vapor lamps perched atop 26 poles will be replaced with LEDs. LEDs are also planned for the fixtures illuminating the hotel perimeter.

Micro-turbine: Planners were also determined to add onsite generation. After concluding that the hotel’s narrow footprint did not provide enough space for a substantial rooftop photovoltaic (PV) array, Smith and Interstate settled on a natural gas-fired micro-turbine. Partial funding has been secured for one unit; the plan had originally envisaged two units, but energy efficiency measures have been so successful in reducing the building’s load that one 1.5 million kilowatt-hour (kWh) micro-turbine is now thought to be sufficient.

When installed, the unit will supply electricity at $0.04/kWh, compared to the $0.14 the Hilton Concord pays for grid electricity today. Today’s low price of natural gas, Smith said, means that the return on investment for the turbine could be a little over three years, instead of the five to six years projected earlier. Waste heat recovered from the micro-turbine will supply up to 89% of the property’s hot water.

An ambitious sustainability overhaul is under way at the Hilton Concord, located about a half-hour east of San Francisco. Credit: Justin Gerdes

Motors and motion sensors: More efficient motors will be a focus of phase two of the Hilton Concord’s energy retrofit. In 2013, the elevators will be outfitted with variable drive motors. Variable drive motor swap-outs are also slated for the property’s refrigeration and pool and spa units. In phase one, motion sensors from Leviton were installed in 32 locations. Next, motion sensors will be installed in storage closets – areas especially susceptible to being illuminated long after workers make a fleeting visit, Smith told me.

Electric vehicle charging: The hotel will install at least one DC (direct current) (500 volt) quick charge station and a couple of Level II (240 volt) charge spots for electric vehicles (EVs) used by guests and the public, Smith said. Talks are under way with EV infrastructure companies and major car rental firms on a package that could include use of rental EVs and charging stations by hotel guests.
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