Many hotels' “green” initiatives amount to giving their guests the option to launder their towels every day. But the Planet Traveler Hostel, which is set to open in Toronto, is the real deal.
Billed as the “Greenest Hotel in North America,” the project aims for a 75 to 80% reduction in energy use compared to conventional hotels.
The biggest component of the hotel’s energy efficiency strategy is a state-of-the-art geothermal system. Since the hostel was constructed by renovating a dilapidated historic building in a densely populated area, the building site had no extra space in which to dig geothermal piping.
Developer Tom Rand had to persuade the city to allow them to bury the piping in an adjacent alley. Rand estimates that the geothermal system alone will save the hotel 50-70% on heating and cooling costs.
Other features include LED lighting throughout the building; the hostel’s lights can be powered with the same amount of energy used to operate a toaster. A heat-recapture system called Powerpipe and 10KW of solar photovoltaic panels on the roof (which provide approximately 10% of the building’s power) add to the building’s energy efficiency.
Furthermore, staying at the hotel is an education in green technology since the geo-exchanger and Powerpipe are visible to guests behind glass walls – and the PV panels can be seen from the roof-top bar.
Rand estimates that the extra energy-efficient features cost less than US$200,000 in construction fees, or 5% of the total project’s budget. But, he expects to recoup the investment in 3 to 6 years. He labels this investment “patient capital,” estimating that eventually the building’s green features will save the hotel $2,500 a month.
Learn more about Geothermal Power on EnergyBoom's Geothermal Energy Learning Page.
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