Hotel Balances Guest Comfort, Water-Saving Goals

By Dave Lubach, Associate Editor  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Open Only 6 Years, San Francisco Hotel Finds Major Water SavingsPt. 2: San Francisco Hotel's LEED Efforts Focus on Reducing Water UsePt. 3: This PagePt. 4: Chemical-Free Cooling Tower Solution Helps Reduce HVAC System's Water Use

Guest comfort is always a top priority for hotels' maintenance and engineering departments. Even the tiniest inconvenience might lead a guest to head to a competitor for a future visit.

"In the hotel world, I get an average of one-and-a-half days to make a friend," Hobbs says. "And if I don't make that friend, they're probably not going to come back. The elevators have to work, the showers have to work, and the TV and air conditioning have to work. If I fail at those basics, I've lost my chances at retaining a customer and getting that customer to come back."

Balancing comfort and water conservation presents a unique challenge to Hobbs' staff, but the process of trying to find ways to save water without compromising comfort continues.

Future water savings are achievable by replacing 2.2 gpm showerheads and 1.6 gpm toilets with lower-flow products, Hobbs says. But the hotel straddles a thin line between lowering water consumption costs and ensuring customer comfort, so Hobbs leans toward the cautious side before going forward with major plumbing projects.

"We've been conservative with the showerheads," Hobbs says. "We've been studying them for a long time and haven't done anything other than (try to) improve the quality of the shower experience. The same has been true with public urinals. I've got two waterless urinals in place, and when the drought started I was very anxious to get these and go water-free. But I'm reconsidering that and looking to go one-pint flushes instead.

The waterless urinals "are a great water-saver, but there are things that are associated with them that I don't want to experience. The acids build up in the pipes and cause the pipes to rot prematurely.

"We've tried (other products), but water is such a critical issue in hospitality that I have to get it right. Getting it done fast and doing it wrong is just not an option."

Future plans to reduce the hotel's water use include installing guest-room toilets with flow rates as low as 0.5 gpf.

"The Department of the Environment has rebates for changing some of these things out, so that's a focus for us to take a look at and see if we can take advantage of a rebate program," Hobbs says. "If that's there I'll pursue that. If it's not, then I'll definitely want to change them out when we do our remodeling in the next year or two."

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  posted on 9/11/2014   Article Use Policy

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