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Maui Business Report

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Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa has installed high efficiency lights in its lobby.

Photo: Courtesy of Hyatt Regency Maui
 

Lean and Green

Hoteliers home in on a smaller energy footprint.

If Gary Bulson gets his way, Maui could soon be home to Hawaii’s first LEED certified hotel – the building industry’s coveted “green” stamp of approval.

Bulson, senior director of engineering for the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa, has long been championing energy efficiency for the 806-room property. Now he wants the hotel to get some recognition for it.

“It’s a lofty goal, but I really do feel it’s attainable,” Bulson said.

The property already heats its swimming pools using “waste” heat from air-conditioning motors; super efficient motorized pool filters have shaved off $84,000 in annual energy costs; and smart thermostats automatically power AC units on and off as guests check in and out. The latter alone helped the hotel eliminate 6 percent of its total energy needs.

The ocean-front pool utilizes the Hyatt’s water filtration system.

Photos: Courtesy of Hyatt Regency Maui

While the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED – or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – certification program has been around for more than a decade, the upfront costs have been cost prohibitive for hotels in particular because of their enormous needs for electricity and water.

But as the return on investment has improved – added to the soaring cost of oil-produced electricity and a trendy visitor segment that seeks out green accommodations – LEED hotels are gaining in popularity.

Improvements at the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas – Maui’s largest hotel with 1,021 units – have included a smart weather station that communicates with the property’s irrigation system, an investment that has cut water use by close to 15,000 gallons a day; and a “Make a Green Choice” program that allows guests to defer daily housekeeping service in exchange for complimentary breakfast. That initiative has saved the hotel $65,000 annually on energy and water needs.

“We are so passionate about our sustainability efforts,” said Sulinn Aipa, the hotel’s operations coordinator. “A big part of it has to do with our isolation as an island community, and our culture that was rooted in environmental stewardship.”

 

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