Solar success for Sandton hotel PDF Print E-mail
The Legacy Hotel Da Vinci has installed a solar water heating system that will save 60% in electricity usage.

The Legacy Hotel Da Vinci, in Sandton, unveiled its solar water heating installation this week, consisting of 117 flat panel solar collectors on its rooftop.

The installation will pre-heat 30 000 litres of water before it enters the hotel`s electrical heating system, resulting in annual electricity savings of 60%. The installation was done by Kayema Energy Solutions, which worked in collaboration with Legacy`s architects and design engineers to incorporate the system.

Kayema GM James Shirley says the company submitted the basic proposal to Legacy roughly a year ago, and it took another six months of planning before any physical work started. “There were some challenges in fitting the system to the building design, with 15 storeys between the roof and the boiler room.”

He adds that the added weight of the panels had not been factored into the initial design, and there were considerations around waterproofing and gaining maximum exposure for the panels, because of the angle of the roof.

“A lot of people worked together on the project, and continually modified plans as the building designs changed.”

According to the hotel`s GM, Roberto Rosa, additional measures have been put in place to control and save energy. These include a card-activated guest system, which switches off all power when a room is unoccupied; water saving shower heads in all the bathrooms; and an LED system installed in public areas and on garden pathways.

“Electrical timers have also been installed to switch off basement parking lights and keep only selected lights operational when necessary, reducing basement energy by up to 50%,” adds Rosa.

Shirley says there`s been an increase in demand for sustainable solutions in buildings, especially with the upcoming electricity price increases. “It`s something a lot of people are becoming interested in, and this high-profile case gives other companies, which may have been thinking about it, a tangible example of a working model.”

Another feature is the remote monitoring system, which keeps track of flow rates, water pressure, and radiation between the rooftop and boiler room. Shirley adds that the monitoring system is not only used to calculate savings, but also for analysis, such as losses experienced, a drop in the efficiency of the heat exchanger, or changes in the amount of radiation.

There`s also a graphic user interface that provides information in near real-time to maximise efficiencies. “It allows an instantaneous view of this system`s efficiency and performance from any computer desktop 24/7,” says Legacy.

According to Shirley, there are massive opportunities for solar technologies in SA, and he says large companies are doing their part. ”Even if they`re not implementing solutions yet, they are investigating.

“Often there`s resistance to new technology, because if people aren`t used to it, it seems like a lot of money to spend upfront. But as more and more companies start seeing it as an investment, and energy efficiency becomes important, that resistance is starting to fade.”

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