Simple Ways to ‘green’ your Hotel

    150 150 Daniel Fountain
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    Or Could interlined curtains save the world?

    The architectural press is full of lengthy articles on making buildings more environmentally friendly. US LEED certification or the UK’s BREEAM standards – both acronyms for the evaluation of your hotels standing environmentally – is the standard for new buildings. How though can you reduce your carbon footprint and at the same time add money to your bottom line by reducing your energy and other bills?

    There are incentives/penalties from government for you too – see our articles at CRC Scheme and Hotel groups reactions. In essence the scheme (as I understand it) takes your groups energy consumption in 2008 as a baseline and taxes you on consumption over that level or rewards you for saving over that level.

    So how can you save money by saving the planet? Here are some suggestions that you may find surprising in their simplicity:
    Firstly bring back curtains .Sometimes, something you have always known, is brought back to your attention by an unexpected event, and this was brought to my attention as a result of an incident in the Curtain Girls factory. It showed just how effective interlined curtains are in reducing heat loss through glass; be it single glazed (listed buildings), secondary glazing or the latest sealed glazing unit.

    It was brought home with a bang when the large forced air blower in the Curtain Girls workroom had its annual service in the autumn. A new company did the service and despite 14 years of problem free use it was found that the gas supply was not man enough for the heater. A new meter was recommended and the gas supply company contacted. The Flanders & Swann song ‘The gas man cometh’ was written just for this – Curtain Girls waited from the end of October until 6th January, through one of the coldest spells of weather for many years.

    The workroom is an amalgamation of two buildings with an opening of nearly 15 meters wide, so the first action was to concentrate the workspace into an area that could be heated with a secondary system of portable heaters. To contain the heat staff made an enormous curtain to run across the opening. Coloured FR lining was used for the face, an interlining made using left over’s from various hotel projects and, in an extravagant gesture, it was all lined by using a synthetic dim-out imported from Germany.

    The resulting temperature difference was truly amazing with 22ºC on the workroom side and 5ºC on the ‘mothballed’ side. One visitor had to keep going from side to side just to check the ‘fridge’ effect. Jane Fiddian also had a lot of fun with a laser thermometer; checking the surface temperature of the glass outside the building before and after drawing back the curtains, regularly finding differences of 10ºC or more.

    Energy consultants asked for proven figures for lining & interlining ( R values or U values) may come up with figures but this pragmatic test shows in startling fashion how we have missed a trick in the schemes to insulate our hotels. When consultants talk of insulation it is of loft and wall insulation but repeatedly infra-red images show most heat loss is through windows. Old fashion lined and interlined curtains obviously make a very effective thermal barrier.

    Daniel Fountain / 04.07.2010

    Editor, Hotel Designs


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