Best practice: Hotel Andaluz, New Mexico

LEED certified hotel

In honor of the recent Sustainable Building Award from New Mexico Business Weekly, the only historic LEED Gold Certified hotel in the Southwest of America, Hotel Andaluz in Albuquerque, tells Green Hotelier about the top ten ways the hotel’s rooms are among the greenest in America.

We chatted to Darin Sands, the LEED AP who oversaw the construction and project as a whole and confirmed that whilst Hotel Andaluz is an excellent example of retrofitting to a high sustainable standard, the project was not without its challenges...

"The project was unique in that we took a historic hotel and redeveloped it to meet historic preservation requirements while at the same time meeting high environmentally sustainable standards. This presented a number of interesting challenges, one of which was the configuration of our rooftop solar thermal system.  The historic preservation department was concerned that the solar collectors were too visible from the ground - detracting from the overall historic character of the building.  We worked closely with them to reach a solution - we changed the angle on a number of the panels to lower their profile while at the same time minimally impacting the performance of the system."

"Another obstacle was the waste management component.  There were a number of non-historic  unusual items in the former hotel that we diverted from the landfill.  This required innovative solutions.  As a result, The New Mexico Recycling Coalition awarded us the  “most Innovative Recycling Project of the Year."

Top 10 sustainable features of Hotel Andaluz:

Rooftop thermal system

Guests are thankful every time they take a shower, bath or use the sink at the hotel that the hot water provided is heated directly by the sun and not through the use of fossil fuels. Our rooftop solar thermal system also heats the water for the laundry and restaurant operations. As a result, more than 214,000 pounds of greenhouse gases per year are kept out of the atmosphere at one of the largest hotel systems in use in the USA.

Energy management system

Our energy management system is another reason our guest rooms are so green. The heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems are in a very deep slumber before guests check in. When they check in, the system automatically brings their room to a comfortable level and turns on a couple of lights. A series of motion detectors and heat sensors tell the system when you leave your room, and climate controls are placed into a energy saving mode.

Fully biodegradable bottled water

The bottled water in our guest rooms are produced with a 100% biodegradable material and filled with locally-sourced water from the New Mexico Ogallala aquifer.

State-of-the-art heating and air con

Our heating and air conditioning systems employ state-of-the-art technology, making them among the most efficient available today.

Two stage flushing system

Each toilet has a two stage flushing system – one for liquid waste and one for solid. This system saves thousands of gallons of precious water resources per year. Also, our shower heads mix oxygen with water to give guests a rich, full shower while using just a fraction of the water used in a conventional shower.

Captured rainwater usage

The live plants are being watered with captured rainwater. We capture the rainwater from off of our roof and store it to provide all the watering needs for our plants.

Renewable furnishings and accessories

Most of the furniture and bathroom accessories in our guest rooms are made of bamboo or rubber wood, both rapidly renewable resources. If these furnishings were made of pine, it would take 40 times longer to replace the trees consumed to create the furniture. These products help keep our consumption of resources balanced with nature’s ability to replenish them – the definition of sustainability.

Carefully selected materials

The carpet, carpet padding, paints, stains and adhesives that make up our guest rooms have been carefully chosen to help keep the indoor environment as healthy as possible.

Above and beyond recycling efforts

During the hotel’s renovation, we recycled more than 1,100 tons of debris. For example, instead of sending the hotel’s old cast iron tubs and sinks to a landfill, we donated them to a local college foundry where they’ve been melted down and recast as works of art. We have continued our recycling efforts in the hotel’s daily operations too - we recycle the majority of our garbage, which includes all of our paper, cardboard, plastic, metals and the food waste is composted too.

Refillable containers

We reduce waste by using re-fillable containers. All of our amenities are in fixed dispensable bottles.

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