Jermaine Goldson of Farrell Electric works on one of six wind turbines atop Hilton Fort Lauderdale
Beach Resort (Susan Stocker, Sun Sentinel) August 22, 2013
Hilton Beach Hotel to power up wind energy soon
Six wind turbines were recently installed on hotel's roof
By Arlene Satchell, Sun Sentinel
A new rooftop attraction is turning heads at one South Florida hotel.
The Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort has installed six wind turbines to plug into the natural breeze blowing from the Atlantic Ocean and help power its facilities.
It's the first Hilton of more than 500 properties to have installed wind turbines, executives said. They also believe it's the first hotel in South Florida to get them.
The turbines are now undergoing inspections to be operational by mid-September, a hotel official said Tuesday during a tour.
The Fort Lauderdale resort invested more than $500,000 on the energy savings project, which is expected to help it reduce the amount of power it uses primarily in common areas such as the lobby.
"We are proud of this renewable energy initiative as well as other eco-friendly programs that implement sustainable practices that will help future generations," General Manager Andreas Ioannou said.
The use of wind turbines as a source of renewable energy is still rare in the lodging industry, but is increasingly becoming a viable option for lodging establishments, according to Green Lodging News.
"The technology has improved with innovation in design, and costs are coming down," said Glenn Hasek, editor and publisher of the Ohio-based industry publication.
In July 2011, 15 U.S. properties were listed on Hasek's website greenlodgingnews.com as having incorporated wind turbines in their energy mix.
The Hilton's wind turbines are new arsenal in its energy conservation efforts.
Standing 52-feet tall when erect, the turbines are strategically placed on the corners and center of the rooftop to capture maximum wind velocity, and are expected to produce 24,000 kilowatt hours of energy.
With their addition, the hotel is anticipating to cut its more than $500,000 annual electric bill by 5 percent to 10 percent, Ioannou noted.
The custom-design wind turbines, which Ioannou called "whimsical, beautiful structures," were originally slated for installation in September 2012, but this was delayed to ensure their supporting mechanism was strong, he said.
The project received support from the city and surrounding community, and reaction from hotel guests has been positive, Ioannou said.
The move demonstrates the hotel's commitment to protecting the local environment and preserving its resources, a city official said.
"The wind turbines will showcase the hotel's sustainability programs and serve as a model for other businesses, and the city appreciates this innovative approach," said Mayor John P. "Jack" Seiler.
Nicki E. Grossman, president and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau said the resort's wind turbines join the Gold LEED-certified Broward County Convention Center are "as models of community sustainability furthering the greening of tourism."
Since opening in 2007, energy conservation has been a key mandate of the 374-suite resort. In 2008 it became the first resort on Fort Lauderdale Beach to be designated a Florida Green Lodging property.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection program recognizes and designates lodging facilities that make a commitment to conserve and protect the state's natural resources.
"We love to see hotels who are participating in the Florida Green Lodging Program go above and beyond the minimum requirements and implement innovative technology and initiatives in their facilities," said JoAnn Shearer, program coordinator.
As a member of Hilton Worldwide's flagship Hilton Hotels & Resorts portfolio, the Fort Lauderdale beach property uses a proprietary system called "LightStay," to track and analyze its sustainability performance.
"We can see the savings," Ioannou noted.
The resort's "Green Team" spearheads and monitors its environmental efforts and implements waste reduction, resource conservation and energy efficiency programs. Previously implemented initiatives include the recycling of all paper, florescent bulbs and batteries, and the installation of automatic water flush meters in all public restrooms.
While the hotel's initial goal is to "evaluate the effectiveness" of the wind turbines, plans also call for adding rooftop solar panels within the next two years, Ioannou said. By year-end, it will install a food composting machine to turn food waste into a nutrient-rich water product, which will help save on waste, and trash disposal costs.
"We are committed to implementing innovative programs and making continual improvements to our overall sustainability results each year," Ioannou said.