Residing in Floyd, Virginia, not far from the Blue Ridge Mountains and just southwest of Roanoke, is the aptly named Hotel Floyd. Originally built in an effort to bring sustainability to the small town, this hotel has exceeded that goal; proving to be a worthwhile model of renewable energy technology and sustainable practices for hotels across the country. Its impressive use of geothermal and solar energy systems will certainly catch your eye. But it is the breadth of their environmentally conscious building elements and the utilization of local resources that makes this hotel a standout in the hospitality market.
The Hotel Floyd is firmly committed to renewable energy – and using that energy as efficiently as possible. The original hotel structure uses solar energy for a variety of purposes. A 4.5 kilowatt (kW) photovoltaic system has helped provide clean electricity to the hotel for years. The new addition to the hotel, opening this June, will bring an added 15 kW of solar. And besides electricity, the hotel uses a solar thermal system to provide hot water in guest rooms and for laundry services.
Working in tandem with the sun to provide clean energy for Hotel Floyd is the Earth, otherwise known as a geothermal heating and cooling system. The original hotel units maintain their temperature through the GeoExchange system, which consists of ten, 350 foot deep wells dug around the property, installed by WaterFurnace. However, despite providing free energy, this system has come with high installation and maintenance costs. Given the mild Virginia climate, this has caused the hotel to reflect and seek a different solution for the new addition; an air to air heat pump system. With temperatures in Floyd rarely dipping below zero, this type of system should meet the new addition’s energy needs as efficiently as the geothermal system, but without the installation or maintenance costs; certainly something hotels in warmer climates should consider.
Less is More
Making use of renewable energy is great, but using less energy is even better. With that in mind, the Hotel Floyd is equipped with an energy management system, including a central thermostat control which allows for increased energy conservation whenever possible. Additionally, all light bulbs have been converted to LED or compact fluorescents, heat pumps carry a highly efficient SEER 18 rating, and the hotel has an EV charging station for electric vehicles and will be adding more with their new addition.
The Power of Passive
While all these updates and investments have proven to be great for the hotel’s sustainability, there are more subtle ways efforts, which the Hotel Floyd has embraced, with the incorporation of passive housing standards into two of their hotels units. The main goal of passive design is to create a well-insulated building that allows temperatures to remain consistent, with little or no assistance. To do this, the hotel enlisted the aid of a computer model for improved efficiency, and installed 12 inches of insulation throughout the walls of the building and another 26 inches of insulation in the ceiling; effectively keeping the outside temperature from coming inside.
Body heat, heat from appliances and the passive solar energy that enters through windows combine to provide enough heat to maintain the units at a comfortable temperature. And not to worry, an Energy Recovery Ventilator is utilized to maintain fresh air flow in the units, despite their super insulated status. Given the use of solar electricity which powers appliances and the ventilator, the hotel’s passive designed units operate on a net zero energy basis most of the time. That’s quite an accomplishment for something so passive.
A Local Connection
Sustainability is usually best accomplished when one works in conjunction with the local community, and few understand this quite like the Hotel Floyd. After all, it was built to help demonstrate this concept to the naturally beautiful community in which it stands. Not only is it pulling energy from the sun and out of the Earth (doesn’t get more local than that, right?), but it’s buildings were constructed using locally sourced wood that was also milled and processed locally, using sustainable methods. But beyond this, the hotel has allowed the local community to put its stamp on the hotel. Each one of their rooms has been themed and decorated by local businesses and non-profit organizations from Floyd. Also, much of the artwork displayed throughout the hotel is the work of local artists, which helps promote the natural wonders and values of this region. And by opening their doors to the local community, the Hotel Floyd has given the community a stake in their mission of sustainability, which is wonderful news for this exquisite environment and those wishing to enjoy it in the years ahead.
Shining the Limelight
Through its extensive pursuit of renewable energy, incorporation of passive building design, and an emphasis on local involvement, the Hotel Floyd is doing its part to spread the word about sustainability and keep this majestic area of Virginia beautiful. For these efforts and more (there’s so much we couldn’t possibly discuss them all here), the Hotel Floyd has, without a doubt, earned a spot In the Limelight.
Contributor: David Thurnau has a background in political science, municipal government, and agriculture with an emphasis in environmental issues.