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DOE Touts San Diego Hotel As Energy Saver

The boiler room at the Marriot La Jolla is noisy, but it’s not as noisy as it used to be. The hotel recently replaced its 25-year-old water chiller, which cools water for the hotel’s air conditioning system, with one that is energy efficient.

U.S. Department of Energy officials toured the hotel today to check out its recent upgrades. Tom Broene, a Marriott engineer, pointed to the chiller’s control panel, a bright digital touch screen. He said the drop in energy consumption from last year to this is dramatic.

“There is a huge spike in July where the weather got really hot. Where the 2012 graph is, it’s flat. It's a night and day difference between 2011 and 2012.”

The hotel invested $833,000 in energy efficient upgrades as part of the Department of Energy's (DOE) Better Buildings Challenge. It's a federal effort to corral business owners, leaders of local governments, and university presidents to reduce energy consumption across the country. Today department officials saw the hotel’s updated motion sensor lighting and kitchen hoods, updated heating system and more.

One DOE official and program advisor, Maria Tikoff Vargas, said energy efficient upgrades are sometimes what she called a “blinding flash of the obvious.” As she walked down the hallway to a stairwell equipped with motion sensor lights she added, “Why would you have the lights on if there’s nobody there?”

She said it’s about time that institutions across the country start to adopt conservation methods like these.

“The question really was, why isn't it happening? And if it is happening in certain pockets, why isn't it happening faster?”

The Better Buildings Challenge hopes sharing successes will help to propel other businesses, governments and schools to invest in innovative energy saving techniques. The Marriott La Jolla estimates it will take two and a half years of saving energy to payback all of the upfront costs.

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