IN A MASSIVE investment in sustainability, Marriott International’s Courtyard Lancaster in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, has gone 100 percent solar powered. Accomplishing that required the installation of a 135,200-square-foot solar system on a warehouse roof half a mile from the 133-room hotel.
The hotel is the first branded property in the U.S. to convert to 100 percent solar power, the company said. “The Courtyard Lancaster’s solar array installation is a concrete step forward to reduce our carbon footprint and minimize our impact on the environment,” said Denise Naguib, Marriott’s vice president of sustainability and supplier diversity. “Working in collaboration with our hotels, owners, guests and associates, we will sustain responsible operations in order to meet the ambitious goals set as part of Marriott International’s sustainability and social impact platform, Serve360, and continue doing good in every direction.”
There are 2,700 panels comprising the array, which is as big as a football field. A real-time meter in the lobby will display for guests the amount of power it produces. The hotel and the warehouse holding the array are in the Greenfield Corporate Center, a mixed-use business campus owned by High Properties.
“We are strong believers in environmental stewardship and taking this step into renewables aligns with the interests of a growing segment of the traveling public,” said High Hotels President Russ Urban.
The solar array produces 1,239,000 kWh of power for the hotel, which consumes 1,177,000 kWh. Excess power is sold to a local power utility. High Hotels received a grant of $504,900 from the Commonwealth Financing Authority through the Solar Energy Program to complete the project.
Courtyard Lancaster is certainly not the first to dabble in solar power sources, according to an article on GreenHotelier.org, and the trend is likely to continue. Lighting, HVAC and water heating make up approximately 60 percent of the total costs for a typical lodging facility, according the article, and the U.S. Energy Star program estimates that hotels spend about $2,196 per room annually on energy alone.
Beside the savings presented by alternative power, the article refers to the U.S. Solar Investment Tax Credit that was recently extended until 2023.
“For example, the Hampton Inn in Bakersfield, California, was able to take advantage of the 30 percent federal tax credit from ITC to build a 102kW solar system for its property,” the article said. “In addition to the tax credits, the hotel was able to generate more than 13,000 kWh per month and lowered its energy bills by 35-45 percent. This solar system saved the hotel an average of $7,400 to $8,800 per month.”
Other “soft” benefits of solar power, according to GreenHotelier.org, is improved guest experience and public perception. But the organization also suggested some caution was necessary when picking a supplier for a sun power installation.
“Any maturing industry will see consolidation and growing pains from time to time, as the recent bankruptcy filing of SunEdison – one of the largest solar developers – demonstrates,” the article said. “This news might make investors nervous if considering a solar installation for their property, but there are some easy measures that will ensure you choose a solar company that can provide the service your hotel requires for the lifetime of your installation.”
Those guidelines include considering the installer’s track record, financial strength, ability to deliver on time and customer base.
“While the bankruptcy of an industry trailblazer has many wondering what the future holds, experts and participants in the renewable energy field anticipate continued strong growth.”