Solar Installation Highlights All Star Performance by Concord Suites G.M.

8/31/2012

Every now and then I chat with who I consider to be a green lodging all star. I have featured many of them on Green Lodging News in the past six years. That person is not always the owner or general manager of a property but it is often the case. This past week I spoke with Susan Cawley, general manager of the Concord Suites in Avalon, N.J. Susan definitely makes my all star list.

What makes Susan so special is what she has been able to accomplish at the 90-suite Concord Suites. It was her idea five years ago to pursue a solar photovoltaic installation for the rooftop of the seashore property. Not many green champions have to convince 90 owners to do something but that is what Susan did. You see, the Concord Suites is a condotel and each suite is owned by a different owner. The 90 owners comprise an association that has to vote before any significant capital investment is approved. When Susan’s proposed $500,000, 104 kW, 434-panel solar installation came to a vote, it was approved unanimously. Maybe Susan should run for president?

The solar system went “live” late last December and has performed great. Susan told me it provided all of the Concord Suites’ electricity through June 30 of this year. Over a calendar year, the system is expected to provide 60 percent of the hotel’s electricity. Payback on the system is expected to be less than five years. Susan already has had success getting one federal grant; she is currently applying for another grant to help fund the solar installation.

Green Commitment is Highly Visible

Susan said business at the Concord Suites this year has been “fabulous.” You can bet the owners’ commitment to sustainability has had something to do with that success. The hotel’s green story is evident from the lobby, where there is a display about the solar panels, to the guestrooms where there are recycling bins and informational cards describing ways guests can make their stay more eco-friendly. The Concord Suites now has a highly recognizable green heron mascot named Eco Eddie to help remind guests and prospective guests about the property’s green commitment.

The investment in solar is just one of the many green projects at Concord Suites. The owners have a goal of reducing electricity consumption by 20 percent this year. New lighting and heating and cooling systems are helping them reach that target. One of the most unique projects is the elimination of water bottles from the property. Instead of purchasing plastic bottles from a machine, guests can now purchase a polycarbonate bottle at cost and fill it with filtered water from a hydration station. You can read about some of the other green steps the property is taking by clicking here.

Congratulations to Susan and all of her team for their success at the Concord Suites.

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