Friday 25 April 2008

The Listel Hotel goes Solar

ROBSON STREET: The Listel Hotel is the first hotel in Vancouver to install a cutting-edge renewable energy system. The hotel is reducing its carbon footprint -- and annual energy expenses -- by installing solar panels and a highly efficient heat recovery system.

The hotel’s partner on the project, B.C.-based renewable energy leader Swiss Solar Tech, has a slogan “The sun hasn’t raised its rates in four billion years.”

The Listel is now tapping into the sun’s abundant and easily-accessible alternative energy via solar thermal collectors to lower their heating costs and, most importantly, their carbon footprint. The hotel expects to reduce its carbon gas emissions by 170 tons annually.

Technical details. The Listel’s customized system employs equipment typically used as a ground-source heat pump. Such pumps exploit the steady underground temperature to provide seasonal heating and cooling. The Listel’s system however does not have an underground loop of liquid-filled tubing for geothermal exchange. Instead, the heat pump is connected to twenty solar collectors and a heat recovery system as well as a 20 ton air-to-water heat pump.

According to Roger Huber, owner of Swiss Solar Tech, “There is incredible potential for heat recovery, particularly when combined with the solar panels.”

Huber explains that the waste heat is collected from the cooling system (the air-conditioning chiller) to use as pre-heat for the domestic hot water and as heating support for the building. “This enables the existing gas-fired boiler to run less, since the heat pump has a much better co-efficiency rate than a gas boiler.”

A computer-controlled system from Care System of Vernon BC, combined with a gas-fired boiler, provides heating and cooling of water and air for the 129 room hotel. The solar heat from solar panels on the hotel’s roof is primarily used to pre-heat the domestic hot water. Solar-heated water is stored in a tank with a capacity of 4,500 litres.

The savings. The estimated pay-back time (amortization period) is less than six years, based on an estimated five per cent annual price increase on natural gas rates. A federal grant from the ecoENERGY for Renewable Heat Initiative reduced the cost of the solar part by 25 per cent.

Swiss Solar Tech is a BC-based company that creates cost-effective renewable energy and heat recovery solutions by designing and installing highly efficient heating and cooling systems for commercial buildings. They combine solar thermal with ground-source heat pumps and heat recovery systems.

The Listel Hotel is known as “Vancouver’s most art-full hotel*” and one of the city’s most well-appointed boutique hotels. Its other green initiatives include a comprehensive recycling program, composting, various water, energy reduction and air quality programs, a towel and sheet reuse program, bulk amenities, and a strong commitment to organic and local food and wine.

The Hotel Association of Canada awarded The Listel the highest eco-rating of any Vancouver hotel - 4 Green Keys. The hotel’s restaurant and bar – O’Doul’s - is an active member of both the Green Table Network and the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program.

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