Albuquerque Hotel Cuts Water Use Nearly 80%


Images courtesy of Hotel Andaluz, copyright 2009, Ramona d'Viola,
ilumus photography

A lot of press releases pass through the in and out boxes at TreeHugger, and sometimes one worthy environmental action just isn't enough for an individual company or organization to get attention. However, the Hotel Andaluz in Albuquerque, New Mexico, got more than a passing glance today for their eye-opening water saving program - reopening after a $30 million remodel, Andaluz claims it cut water use by 78%.
Rooftop solar panels photo via Strawberry Earth.

So the question is, an 78% reduction in water use compared to what? The Andaluz, which previously existed as the La Posada hotel, was extensively remodeled using LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Designs) standards. Developers assiduously recycled much of the remodel's waste and debris, and even received an award in June for its waste management efforts.

In order to cut water use, the Andaluz' developers installed "oxygen-assisted" low-flow shower heads, which add air to the water to give it the feel of higher water pressure during showers. Low-flow toilets were also deployed, and the hotel is in the process of installing a rainwater collection system to irritgate all of its landscaping.

The result - in May 2004 the La Posada used 1.2 million gallons of water. In May 2005, the last year of operation before the remodel, La Posada used 730,000 gallons in the month. In May 2010, Andaluz used just 300,000 gallons of water. That's a prodigious achievement, but doesn't quite tell the whole story of what the new hotel will average through the months - on its web site, Andaluz says its conservation features cut usage 45%, and that when looking at eight different months of usage over the years, the new hotel averaged 770,000 gallons less than its predecessor La Posada.

How good is that as a whole? Well, estimates vary widely - one study has the average hotel room using around 130 gallons per room per day, while this Florida organization estimates nearer to 200 gallons per room per day. Extrapolating from those numbers, Andaluz in its best month used 300,000 gallons in a month or 10,000 gallons each day - and the hotel has 107 rooms and suites, for an average of around 93 gallons each day per room. That is better than the low average.

Andaluz has installed solar panels to help heat about 60% of the hotel's hot water, which will cut energy use 20% compared to buildings not using solar hot water heating. In addition, the hotel's rooms have sensors to detect when guestrooms are unoccupied in order to kick an "energy setback" mode into gear. Fluorescent and LED lighting are to help reduce energy load, and Andaluz says "70% of hotel's power will be offset with renewable energy."

In addition, after furnishing the hotel with salvaged materials and bamboo as well as low-emitting carpets, carpet padding, paints, sealants, and adhesives, Andaluz has put in place recycling and composting programs, is choosing local produce for its restaurants, and has implemented "green" education and training for its staff.

Andaluz took so many green measures in its green remodel and subsequent operations, in fact, that the hotel is applying for gold LEED status (in had previously aimed for silver) and when it receives the certification, will be one of the first historically renovated gold LEED hotels in the U.S.

The list is quite impressive, and the hotel looks beautiful. It has managed to get five out of seven trees in its rating as one of a list of environmentally friendly hotels. The only areas Andaluz seems to be lacking, according to those ratings, is in its lack of a grey water system, and uncertainty as to whether guests are provided in-room sorting and recycling bins.

Tags: Green Building | Water Conservation

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