- Published on Wednesday, 18 May 2011 11:00
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Crowne Plaza Alice Springs has recently completed the installation of the largest commercial building mounted solar panel system in the Southern Hemisphere.
Comprising of over 1326 individual photovoltaic solar modules, the multi million-dollar energy saving project has put Crowne Plaza Alice Springs on the top of the growing list of hotels converging and installing green practices and initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint.
The $3 million project was a joint initiative between Crowne Plaza Alice Springs and the Australian government’s Alice Solar City Project. Alice Springs is one of seven cities that has been selected for funding under the Australian government’s $94 million solar cities program.
Alice Springs was chosen as one of the seven cities for funding because it has the highest solar resource of any town in Australia. It was due to this that the Crowne Plaza Alice Springs location and building design – which highlighted the hotel’s potential to make a substantial difference to its impact on the environment – made it all the more viable.
The rooftop combined solar arrays will generate nearly 1500kW of power per day and over 530,000kW per year - that is enough power to supply more than 60 family homes. The rooftop installation will also supply the greatest saving of up to 80% of the hotel’s power needs (depending on the time of year), save more than $79,739 annually in electricity costs, reduce the hotel’s carbon footprint by 420 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year as well as assisting to reduce the total energy load on the Alice Springs town electricity grid by about 0.5% or about 250kW of the 50,000kW generated in summer.
The project was first initiated after the Crowne Plaza Alice Springs invested in a full audit of all energy saving options in late 2007. The audit showed the enormous potential for solar powering based on the hotel’s location. This was what prompted the vision of a rooftop photovoltaic system.
Today, apart from the rooftop system, Crowne Plaza Alice Springs has also implemented energy efficiency projects on a major scale. These projects also reduce the hotel’s total energy consumption by 18% and its power bill by 15%.
One of these projects is the installation of ‘Energy Eye’, an innovative technical solution to managing heating and cooling of the guest rooms. This solution allows the hotel to minimise the energy consumption of it’s air-conditioning by detecting whether or not a guestroom is occupied. This system is so smart it can detect when a guest room is occupied even when the guest is sleeping.
It is the largest commercial building mounted solar system in the Southern Hemisphere
Other projects include replacing over 3110 light bulbs with energy efficient options in guest rooms, foyers, meeting spaces, restaurants, corridors and back of house areas, which will provide further savings of nearly 270,000Wh per year – the equivalent of powering nearly 30 family homes and improving water and gas usage by installing Jemflo showerheads into all guest rooms saving 11,580KL of water each year – that is enough water to fill over 30 Olympic sized swimming pools – and saving more than 778,120 Mj of gas.
Together, these projects along with the solar PV project have significantly reduced Crowne Plaza Alice Springs’ hotel energy consumption. For example, there has been a 5.5% reduction in gas usage; a 25% reduction in electricity; a 17% reduction in water usage and a 30% reduction in CO² emissions.
For an indication of the large scale of energy saving projects undertaken at Crowne Plaza Alice Springs, here are some interesting and novel facts about some of the measures under taken: 2400 light globes were changed over; 1350 halogen down light fittings were replaced; 35 public areas received lighting control upgrades and 11.4km of tubing was used for the swimming pool solar water heater.
Crowne Plaza Alice Springs general manager, Adam Glass said, “The days of asking guests to hang up their towels to save water is no longer enough. Our project is part of an organisation-wide environmental policy where our priority is for smarter, cleaner energy use.”