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First LEED-certified Hotel in Tennessee ‘Green’ Laundry Saves 12K Annually
As the first LEED-certified hotel in Tennessee, the Hilton Garden Inn, in Gatlinburg, required careful planning and collaboration by its executive staff, contractor, supporting vendors and LEED-accredited architect. In the end, the 118-room hotel cam
Jeff Large of Laundry Systems of Tennessee worked closely with the Hilton Garden Inn to design the on-premise laundry. “The total cost of the laundry with the ozone system was $48,000,” he says. “The laundry will pay for itself in 48 months. Right now, everyone wants to save. With ozone and highly efficient laundry equipment, there is nothing but savings. There’s a better end result,” he maintains.
In the United States, LEED certification is a recognized standard for measuring building sustainability. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), offers four certification levels for new construction – Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Each level corresponds to the number of credits accrued in five green design areas – sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality. The Hilton Garden Inn received a Silver LEED certification.
In the long run, the Hilton Garden Inn will cost less to operate. “An upfront investment of two percent in green building design, on average, results in life cycle savings of 20 percent of the total construction costs – more than 10 times the initial investment,”
Of top concern during the hotel’s development was maintaining the consistency of the Hilton Garden Inn brand, according to Reagan. “We wanted the hotel to ‘feel’ the same to the customer,” she says. So, any changes made in pursuit of LEED certification needed to correspond with the company’s image.
“The landscape uses less water and pesticides; the pavers in the parking lot are porous to improve drainage; and the hotel features recycled wallpaper, granite counter tops and a chemical-free saltwater pool and hot tub, as well as in-room recycling,” says Reagan. The property also boasts low-flow showerheads and faucets, and the option of high- or low-flow toilet flushing, as well as a super efficient laundry area that requires less water, natural gas, chemicals and electricity.
The laundry is outfitted with two Continental Girbau 55-pound capacity soft-mount washer-extractors, each with a TNozone system, and three Continental Girbau 75-pound capacity high-efficiency drying tumblers. The washer-extractors were easy to install and easily permitted hook-up of the ozone system through existing external ports, according to Large.
The soft-mount washers were selected over traditional rigid mount machines for a number of reasons, including efficiency, laundry productivity, ease-of-use and ease of installation.
The freestanding design of the washers eliminates the hard-to-mount requirement of bolting the machines onto a re-bar reinforced concrete foundation. “The suspension systems are designed to absorb up to 95 percent of the vibration during extract,” explains Large. “Because there’s less stress on machine components, soft-mount washers typically outlast hard-mount models,” he says. “They also operate very quietly.”
Reagan agrees. “We can have guest rooms next to the laundry area because the washers don’t produce the noise of hard-mount washers,” she says.
But the soft-mount washers also play a critical role when it comes to conserving water, energy and natural gas. When compared with hard-mount washers, which reach extract speeds of 75-200 G-force, the Continental soft-mount machines achieve 380 G-force extract speeds, and thus, remove considerably more water per load. As a result, dry-time is decreased by up to 30 percent, according to Large. Not only is laundry productivity improved, gas consumption and dryer wear-and-tear are dramatically reduced.
By combining the high-efficiency washers with ozone technology, utility savings and productivity catapult further. Altogether, the ozone-equipped laundry will save an estimated 205,860 gallons of water and 3,886 ($6,413) therms of natural gas per year, according to Large. Ozone adds a big punch to bottom-line savings and hotel sustainability.
In the wash, ozone breaks down organic materials using only cold water, which can dramatically reduce a laundry’s hot water usage, and in doing so, the natural gas used to heat that water. It also reduces a laundry’s overall water and chemical needs – another boon to the environment.
Ozone works by passing energy through oxygen (O2) to create ozone gas (O3). The third oxygen atom in ozone produces a cleaning agent that can be added to wash cycles. Because ozone effectively loosens material from linen fibers, it eliminates the need for a pre-wash cycle, according to Large. Because there’s no pre-wash, washers consume less water and complete cycles faster.
“Using a soft-mount washer in combination with ozone, a load of cotton towels will dry in about 26 minutes. Using a traditional hard-mount washer without ozone, a similar load of cotton towels will dry in 40-45 minutes,” says Large. By using ozone with a high-speed, soft-mount washer, dryers run less often, productivity increases, labor decreases and bottlenecks at the dryer are eliminated.”
To simplify things further, the washers at the Hilton Garden Inn are programmed to automatically adjust water levels, cycle times, number of baths, water temperature and chemical injection according to linen type. That way, towels, duvets, sheets, rags and shower liners, which each have separate programs, are washed properly and consistently every time. Attendants simply input a program number and press start.
“Because of our ozone system, we don’t use fabric softener,” adds Reagan. “Our linens are very soft and have a wonderful, crisp, clean smell, instead of a chemical fragrance.”
Linens also last longer, she says, thanks to less dryer wear-and-tear, shorter wash cycles and the use of fewer chemicals. “We use white duvets. I haven’t had to order any replacements in the three months the hotel has been open,” says Reagan. “That’s unusual.”
There is no doubt, according to Reagan, that the on-premise laundry significantly contributes to the hotel’s Silver LEED certification by reducing water, natural gas and chemical usage. Simultaneously, the laundry is more productive – completing more laundry in less time, using less labor.
Find out more about the Hilton Garden Inn in Gatlinburg www.gatlinburg.hgi.com, LEED at www.usgbc.org, Continental Girbau laundry products at www.continentalgirbau.com, and Laundry Systems of Tennessee at www.tnlaundry.com.