JULY 11, 2013 – SPSU’s International Knowledge and Research Center (IKRC) recently helped the Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead bring an idea to life that will increase the 439-room hotel’s energy efficiency and save its owners considerable money in water bills.
Wes Shirley, the hotel’s director of engineering, came up with the idea of using the Grand Hyatt’s 32,000-sq. ft. third-floor roof to collect and reuse rainwater. To get started, he turned to Jim Mabes, an engineer and director of administration and development for the IKRC, who researched the local annual average rainfall over a 30-year period (50 inches a year) and calculated the measurements for the state-of-the-art catchment system. Mabes then worked with Craig Carroll – an SPSU student with experience in computer-assisted design who graduated in May with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering Technology – on the engineering drawings.
Steve Miller of the local firm The Plumber Company handled the June installation of the system, which catches and recycles both rainwater and condensation through a series of drains and stores it in tanks. These tanks hold up to 30,000 gallons and will primarily be used for the hotel’s cooling tower, which will decrease the amount of city water needed.
The harvesting system is expected to gather 992,000 gallons of water per year for a total annual savings of $26,050 and will take 3.84 years to pay back its cost at that rate.
“Atlanta has some of the highest water rates in the country, and we also are very mindful of the carbon footprint of the hotel,” said Shirley, who noted that the Hyatt pays about $0.02 per gallon for city water. “A rain harvest system made both financial and socially responsible sense for us.”
“Our student learned a real-world lesson about how to calculate the payback for a capital investment project,” said Mabes. “The IKRC looks forward to helping the Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead with future projects that have a sustainability component that can serve as a learning experience for our students.”
The hotel plans to next look into ways to save gray water, which is wastewater used in activities such as dish washing or laundry.
This is one of many projects on which the IKRC has partnered with local businesses and government entities, including the Cobb County Schools, Atlanta Public Schools, the governing officials of Cobb County, the Georgia Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, the Office of the Georgia Lieutenant Governor, the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia and the Association of Building Contractors of Georgia.