Energy savings at 
Vermont luxury hotel

By Sandra LaFlamme, P.E., CEM

Nestled in the midst of mountains, clean air and small town quaintness, sits a new hotel that not only offers its guests luxury and relaxing comfort, but minimizes its use of energy and water resources. Manchester, Vermont is home to the new Taconic Hotel, which opened its doors in December 2015. This 80,000-square-foot, 4-story hotel boasts 87 guest rooms, three cottages, restaurant, library, boutique, fitness center, pools and meeting rooms.

According to ENERGY STAR, the average American hotel spends $2,196 on energy, each year, per available room. Reducing energy waste reduces that average cost. This is good for a hotel’s bottom line, in addition to improving guest comfort and helping the environment.

The energy and water savings from the Taconic’s efficient design and construction are impressive. An estimated 600,700 kWh of electricity, 23,500 gallons of propane, and 418,000 gallons of water are saved per year. Carbon emissions are reduced by an estimated 995,500 pounds per year.

Well-designed, well-constructed building

Mark D’Angelo, an independent construction professional, managed all phases of the project representing the Taconic’s owners. The design and construction team included Beacon Architectural Associates, Benoit Electric, Pearson and Associates, Peter Niemitz Design Group, TriMark United East Foodservice & Interior Design, and VHV Company.  

D’Angelo also partnered with Energy Consultant Ethan Bellavance, from Efficiency Vermont, in order to maximize the project’s energy saving potential. Efficiency Vermont is the statewide efficiency utility administered by Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC) a not-for-profit organization dedicated to reducing the economic and environmental costs of energy use. 

Alan Hebert, manager of Strategy and Planning for the Hospitality Market at Efficiency Vermont, leads the efforts to help support Vermont inns and hotels in becoming more energy efficient. Ethan Bellavance made efficiency recommendations and reviewed this project for Efficiency Vermont incentive. Financial incentives are paid to owners to help offset the added incremental cost of energy saving measures. Efficient design elements are woven throughout the building, including plumbing, thermal envelope, interior and exterior lighting, and HVAC systems.  

To achieve water savings, low flow plumbing fixtures were selected. American Standard Cadet Pro Right Height high-efficiency toilets were used in the guest rooms, with ultra-low water consumption of 1.28 gpm. Water usage dropped 20 percent and the toilet met U.S. EPA WaterSense specifications for high efficiency toilets. Showerheads were selected that use 2.0 gpm rather than the standard 2.5 gpm flow rate. Nathan Mascolino, design engineer at VHV Company, a plumbing, heating and air conditioning contractor, noted that the guest room lavatory sinks have 0.5 gpm faucet aerators. This further reduced the hotel’s water consumption and domestic hot water needs. The kitchen pre-rinse spray valves that were used were rated at a modest 1.42 gpm.

The domestic hot water at the hotel is generated using an efficient propane-fired PK Thermific Model 50-1500-2LP boiler. ENERGY STAR dishwashers were installed at the main commercial kitchen. Most of the kitchen appliances are ENERGY STAR-listed products. The commercial kitchen hoods have demand controlled ventilation, which reduces the need for conditioned air and reduces fan speed when the hoods are not being used.

 The pumps used throughout the hotel are energy efficient. Most of the smaller pumps have brushless DC motors, while the larger pumps have variable frequency drives. The pool uses an ENERGY STAR variable speed Pentair Intelliflo pump. A warm ambiance is created using a combination of primarily LED with some limited fluorescent lighting. The lighting controls further reduce energy consumption.  

Guest rooms are cooled and heated using high efficient water source heat pumps with 14.2 EER and COP ranging from 4.8 to 5.3. Variable frequency drives on the main water source heat pump loop 15 HP pumps allow flow modulation and less pumping power to be used during unoccupied periods or times when the building is at its balance point and not in need of much heating or cooling. The 94 percent thermal efficiency boilers provide heat injection to the main water source heat pump loop. Cooling injection is provided via a closed circuit cooler with a plate heat exchanger to limit the propylene glycol to the exterior piping on the condenser side of the heat exchanger. This saves pump energy and chemical injection costs, while being more environmentally friendly.

Ventilation air is provided by energy recovery ventilation units, with propane heating and DX cooling doing the final stage of heating and cooling respectively. Controls throughout the hotel are state-of-the-art and use the latest technology for guest room control to ensure guest comfort while maximizing occupied and unoccupied temperature setbacks for occupied and vacant rooms. This yields the greatest energy savings without compromising guest comfort.  

Ray Spears, controls account manager at Trane Company in Williston, Vermont, said, “They chose a full DDC Energy Management System utilizing the Telkonet Hotel Management system, which interfaces with the water source heat pumps in the guest rooms and ties back to the central server. The Telkonet system is capable of utilizing the front desk check-in system to ascertain when rooms are sold or unsold. The EcoSmart thermostats in the guest rooms have Recovery Time technology, which maximizes room-by-room savings without sacrificing guest comfort.”  

Room temperature setbacks depend on whether the room is occupied or vacant, with the greatest temperature setbacks occurring when rooms are both. Other control systems often require that a temperature setback be specified. The danger is that the room will not return to the guest’s comfort setpoint quickly, which results in guest complaints. Telkonet’s EcoSmart controls incorporate a dynamic setback technology that offers flexible setback temperatures to accommodate various room factors, external temperatures and room exposure (north, south, east or west), and other variables. The control system saves energy when a room is unoccupied, without inconveniencing a guest upon his or her return.

 Elite group of hotels 

In the November 2011 report, “Low Cost Building Automation System for Small-and-Medium-Sized Commercial Buildings,” Srinivas Katipamula, Ph.D., of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, stated that only 10 to 15 percent of the commercial buildings in the U.S. have building automation systems. And, most of the buildings are over 100,000 square feet in size.

The “2011 Vermont Energy Management Systems – Market Actor Report – Business Sector” from Navigant Consulting, Inc. stated that in Vermont less than one-third of existing buildings have whole-building control systems. And, less than one percent of buildings have wireless controls. 

This puts the this hotel in with an elite group of buildings, since it has a full building automation system with some wireless controls. With the ski season winding down, and the spring and summer season gearing up for hiking, biking and other outdoor and cultural activities, Taconic is ready to provide its guests with a comfortable, relaxing and certainly energy-efficient place to stay.

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