WEF's membership newsletter covers current Federation activities, Member Association news, and items of concern to the water quality field. WEF Highlights is your source for the most up-to-the-minute WEF news and member information.
Luxury Albuquerque, N.M., Hotel Saving Millions of Gallons of Water
Historic Hotel Andaluz focuses on water efficiency, as well as posh appointments
||When Goodman Realty Group (Albuquerque, N.M.) set out to revitalize Hotel Andaluz (Albuquerque) in 2005, the company had visions of environmental sustainability, as well as luxury designed with a nod to the modern Andalucía Region of Spain. Originally built in 1939 by Conrad Hilton as Hotel La Posada de Albuquerque, the city’s oldest and only historic hotel was purchased by Goodman in 2005. The company immediately closed the hotel and invested $30 million in upgrades that it says make Hotel Andaluz the “greenest” boutique hotel in the U.S. Southwest. In September, the hotel received the Boutique and Lifestyle Lodging Association (West Hills, Calif.) and Hospitality Design magazine’s “Lifestyle Hotel of the Year” award.
|The entrance to Hotel Andaluz (Albuquerque), a historic hotel remodeled with sustainable features. Photo courtesy of Ramona Willis d'Viola/ilumus photography. Click for larger image.
Several key water conservation features at the hotel save upwards of 13,200 m3 (3.5 million gal) of water per year. The company is seeking the U.S. Green Business Council (Washington, D.C.) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold status for the hotel. Located in a water-strapped region, this water savings is an impressive figure that commands attention.
“Our owner, Gary Goodman, has always been passionate about sustainability,” said Darin Sand, LEED Accredited Professional coordinator, noting that Goodman has considered the environmental impacts of its projects since the 2001 installation of an underground closed-loop thermal cooling system at its headquarters. “We also are keenly aware of the need to conserve water in the high-desert Southwest,” he said. “As such, water conservation is always on our mind.”
Going for LEED Gold
Since the 107-room hotel reopened in November 2009, it has used an average of 1049 m3/mo (277,092 gal/mo). Compare that to the 3508 m3/mo (926,730 gal/mo) used by the same property before its renovation, and Hotel Andaluz appears to be a water steward.
|Water conservation measures at Hotel Andaluz go beyond polite cards suggesting that guests minimize towel use and forgo having linens changed daily.|
Each guest room features 7.6-L/min (2-gal/min) oxygen-assisted low-flow shower heads that mix oxygen with water for a fuller shower feel and dual-flush toilets, which reduce water use by more than 45% annually, according to Sand.
Sand said that first, obvious water-saving fixtures were installed — guest showers, faucets fitted with 5.7-L/min (1.5-gal/min) low-flow aerators, and toilets — and then the company added a sustainable solar–thermal system that heats the hotel’s guest rooms, public restrooms, kitchens, and laundry facilities.
For the upgrades, Goodman received a $200 rebate per toilet and an $8 rebate per showerhead, totaling a $23,000 credit on the hotel’s water bill. New Mexico also offers corporate tax credits for solar energy.
|A solar–thermal system and water-saving features including dual-flush toilets are key “green” features in Hotel Andaluz. Photo courtesy of Ramona Willis d'Viola/ilumus photography. Click for larger images. |
However, Brent White, water conservation analyst for Southwest Florida Water Management District, considered Hotel Andaluz’s key features and said some of the savings are average, compared to the benchmarks he uses for hotels ranging in size from 6 to 900 rooms. He concluded that while Hotel Andaluz’s “savings are achievable with the application of water-conserving best management practices and careful management and monitoring of all major uses,” the real savings are due to the dual-flush toilets.
“The toilets have contributed a great deal to the savings,” Sand said. “They use [3 L] 0.8 gal of water for a half flush and [6 L] 1.6 gal for a full flush. There have not been any complaints about toilet clogs or problems.”
Further adding to the list of sustainable features, the hotel manages a comprehensive recycling program, which has carried over to other businesses on the block. “We are the ones leading the program; no other city block is doing this,” Sand said.
|Additionally, the hotel has a full set of brand-new dual-pane, low emissivity, energy-efficient windows that conform to historic preservation requirements. And instead of plastic water bottles, the hotel provides a tap-water filter system for its restaurant, Lucia, and rooftop club, Ibiza.|
Coordinating Irrigation and Cistern Space
Goodman installed a drip irrigation system for its landscape, which, in downtown Albuquerque, is limited to six trees lining its street front and indoor potted plants. But the company has other ideas, such as installing cisterns to take the hotel’s water conservation program even farther.
To capture runoff from Hotel Andaluz’s 576-m2 (6200-ft2) roof, Goodman is installing three 9460-L (2500-gal) cisterns in the adjacent city-owned garage and creating a new irrigation source.
|A view of the lobby of Hotel Andaluz, the self-proclaimed “greenest” boutique hotel in the U.S. Southwest. Photo courtesy of Ramona Willis d'Viola/ilumus photography. Click for larger image.|
At first, adding cisterns seemed like an easy way to acquire LEED points, Sand said. However, “the rainwater capture is a challenge, because we are located on an established downtown city block,” he said. “Finding a location for the [cisterns] required some thinking. … It has taken coordination with the City of Albuquerque.”
This latest step is worth following through, Sand added. It represents “how far we can go with our downtown property” in achieving one of LEED’s highest standards, he said. The cistern system is expected to be operating before the end of the year.
Andrea Fox, WEF Highlights
UK Debuts First Wastewater-Powered Car
When children of the 1960s see a Volkswagen (VW) Beetle, they think “Flower Power.” When children of the 2010s see the iconic car, they may someday think “sewer power.”
How It Works
|At least that’s the hope of a group in England that converted a second-hand VW to operate on methane gas from a virtually inexhaustible source: human waste.
Dubbed the Bio-Bug, the sewage-powered car is the brainchild of GENeco (Bristol, England), a sustainable-energy company owned by Wessex Water (Bath, England), a water and wastewater company serving much of southwestern England.
The prototype vehicle was conceived as a way to use excess biogas produced at a local wastewater treatment plant while publicly showcasing the viability of using human waste as a sustainable and clean fuel alternative, according to Ben Powis, environmental business development manager for South West Regional Development Agency (Devon, England), which also collaborated on the project.
|The Bio-Bug, a modified VW Beetle, runs on both conventional fuel and compressed methane gas. Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of GENeco (Bristol, England). Click for larger image.
||The Bio-Bug is a conventional 2-L, four-cylinder VW Beetle convertible modified by Greenfuel Co. (Bath) to run on both conventional fuel and compressed methane gas. Compressed-gas fuel cylinders were added to the car to store methane, as well as simple mechanisms for filling the cylinders and connecting them to the car’s engine. The car’s existing fuel system remains intact. The total conversion cost amounts to about $2350 (£1500).
Like many dual-fuel vehicles, the Bio-Bug starts using regular unleaded gas. When the engine reaches full operating temperature, it automatically switches over to methane fuel. If the methane tank runs empty, the Bio-Bug automatically reverts to gasoline power.
Thanks to special refining of the methane gas, the Bio-Bug’s performance is comparable to that of a similar car filled with traditional fuel, said Mohammed Saddiq, GENeco general manager.
“If you were to drive the car, you wouldn’t know it was powered by biogas, as it performs just like any conventional car,” Saddiq said. “Drivers won’t know the difference.”
|The Bio-Bug runs on regular gas until it reaches full operating temperature and switches back to gas when the methane tank runs empty. Photo courtesy of GENeco. Click for larger images.
Fill ‘Er Up?
Currently, the Bio-Bug’s methane fuel tank only can be filled in one place: the wastewater treatment plant at Avonmouth in England.
There, anaerobic digestion has been used for years to convert wastewater and organic wastes into biogas, which traditionally has been used to power the site, with the excess exported to the National Grid (London), Saddiq said. National Grid is an international electricity and gas company that owns the high-voltage electricity transmission network in England and Wales.
While suitable for generating electricity, the biogas needs further processing to improve its performance as a vehicle fuel, Powis said.
Straight from the digesters, the biogas is approximately 60% methane and 40% carbon dioxide, Powis explained. After putting the biogas through a siloxane plant for initial cleaning, GENeco uses a pressure swing absorption unit to pressurize the gas and filter out the carbon dioxide. Then, the resulting product — now 99.9% methane — is compressed into cylinder packs and ready to use.
Win–Win for Drivers and the Environment
GENeco claims that waste flushed down the toilets of only 70 homes in Bristol produces enough methane to power the Bio-Bug for a year, assuming it travels 16,000 km (10,000 mi) annually.
What kind of mileage does the Bio-Bug get? Powis said it can be difficult to compare the performance of gasoline to that of methane gas. “The generally accepted belief is that the Bio-Bug uses about one-third more fuel [than an ordinary VW Beetle],” he said. “But because the fuel is less expensive to produce, it is still about one-third cheaper to operate overall.”
The methane fuel that powers the Bio-Bug offers another bonus, Powis said. It’s virtually pollutant-free. “The exhaust consists of carbon dioxide and water,” Powis explained. “There is no soot or tar.” Perceptible odor also is absent from the exhaust.
Currently, only one high-visibility Bio-Bug can be found cruising the streets of Bristol. But if the trial proves successful, GENeco said it will consider converting some of the company’s fleet of vehicles to run on biogas.
Before anyone else can jump on the Bio-Bug bandwagon, however, the company and its partners will have to develop a way to sell and distribute “refined” methane gas.
|In the long-term, that could also mean increasing methane production. Wessex Water currently produces approximately 18 million m3 (635 million ft3) of biogas at its Avonmouth plant every year. So, the waste of the region’s 1 million inhabitants currently produces enough biogas to power about 6000 cars a year, according to Powis.|
It’s an amount that could conceivably grow, even if the population does not. Saddiq explained that GENeco is making plans to recycle food waste at Avonmouth, which could substantially increase biogas production. “It will mean that both human waste and food waste will be put to good use in a sustainable way that diverts waste from going to landfill,” he said.
Powis thinks even bigger. Anaerobic digestion technology generates considerable interest in British agriculture, wastewater, and waste management organizations, he said. This trial could help potential investors decide if it is appropriate for their use. In other words, he hopes people will be bitten by the Bio-Bug.
|The flow diagram shows the cycle of biogas energy production for the Bio-Bug. Figure courtesy of GENeco. Click for larger image. |
Mary Bufe, WEF Highlights
From the President: Plans For a New Year
As I begin my year with the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.), I realize that it is truly an honor to be president of this great organization.
|Jeanette Brown, 2010–2011 WEF President.
But along with that honor comes responsibility and challenge. I am assuming the presidency of WEF at a very pivotal time in history for both the organization and us as water professionals. We have to think differently from how we did before the recession. We need to be creative with financial resources that, at times, are not sufficient. We all are faced with doing more with less. Utilities throughout the United States have sustained severe budget cuts, yet we must operate and maintain our treatment plants, repair and rehabilitate our infrastructure, face work-force issues, deal with increasingly stringent permit requirements, manage stormwater, prepare for climate change, and ensure sustainable practices to have the resources needed for future generations.
We are stewards of the environment, but we also must be humanitarians and understand what we can do as individuals and organizations to truly protect and enhance the global water environment. We need to work hard to bring clean water and sanitation to everyone. Throughout the world, there are at least 2.6 billion people who do not have access to basic sanitation and clean drinking water that results in 2 million to 5 million people, including more than 1.5 million children, dying each year from waterborne diseases and poor sanitation. This is not acceptable.
Goals for the Upcoming Year
Operators are the lifeblood of our efforts to protect the environment, and we must do everything we can to educate and train them. During this next year, we will be promoting our Distance Learning Initiative. This program will enable our excellent training programs to be used by anyone with Internet access no matter where they are located and allow operators to develop their skills and achieve higher levels of certification in a cost-effective way. They will have access to renowned experts in the field without ever having to leave their location.
We as WEF members must be recognized by public and regulatory agencies as leaders in science, technology, and policy areas regarding water. I pledge to work hard to make this happen and continue to expand our influence, reputation as experts, and leadership in all matters related to water.
We also need to change the public’s view of water. WEF and our members can be leaders in educating the public on how to use water, the value of water, and the importance of full-cost pricing for the use, treatment, and disposal of water to ensure the protection of public health and the environment. Water has no substitute, and if not managed properly, water will become the limiting resource in developed, as well as developing, regions.
Jeanette Brown, 2010–2011 WEF President
World Water Monitoring Day Reaches Around the World
World Water Monitoring Day (WWMD) continues to reach more people around the world every year. Participants in the international education and outreach program coordinated by the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) and the International Water Association (IWA; London) span the globe, including Vietnam, Pakistan, Bulgaria, India, and the United States.
|Students visit an exhibit at the 2010 World Water Monitoring Day celebration held Sept. 16 in Washington, D.C. See more photos in the WWMD 2010 gallery. Photo courtesy of Allison O’Brien. Click for larger image.
The program encourages people to test their local waterways for a core set of water quality parameters — including temperature, acidity, turbidity, and dissolved oxygen — with the WWMD water testing kit between March 22 and Dec. 31. Participants submit their results to be shared through the WWMD Web site, www.worldwatermonitoringday.org. Every year, the official WWMD observation is Sept. 18, and many have come out to celebrate.
WEF and IWA hosted the D.C. celebration of WWMD on Thursday, Sept. 16 at Hains Point. For the event, nearly 300 students from schools in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia participated in hands-on monitoring of the Potomac River and were able to visit the 21 exhibits hosted by local groups involved in water protection. Another notable event comes out of Vietnam, with the first WWMD activity in the country occurring as more than 500 students spent the beginning of the year sampling, testing, and reporting findings in 14 waterbodies in the Nhue-Day River basin. More WWMD stories can be found on the program’s Web site.
The extensive reach of WWMD can be seen with the new data map, designed as a volunteer effort by the New Zealand-based firm Outpost Central. Pinpoints on the Google map describe monitoring results and any additional information, such as species, photos, videos, comments, and history of monitoring results for different locations around the world. This platform facilitates navigation of the data collected and provides the opportunity for participants to connect with each other and collaborate in the future. “The map will allow groups to record more qualitative information about their sites, such as greater detail about how the land around the site is used,” said WEF assistant director of communications Lorien Walsh.
WEF and IWA received financial and in-kind support for WWMD from the program’s primary sponsors, including the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, PerkinElmer Inc. (Waltham, Mass.), ITT Corp. (White Plains, N.Y.), Sinclair Knight Merz Group (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), and Smithfield Foods (Smithfield, Va.).
To host your own event, purchase materials at the online store, or have free materials shipped directly to you for your event by submitting the materials request form. Also, see the WWMD 2010 photo gallery.
In Memoriam: Joseph L. Abbott Jr., Godwin Pumps National Sales Manager
Joseph L. Abbott Jr., national sales manager of Godwin Pumps (Bridgeport, N.J.) and a Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) member, died Sept. 12.
|Photo courtesy of Godwin Pumps (Bridgeport, N.J.).
Abbott, a resident of Radnor, Pa., received his bachelor of science degree in accounting from Saint Joseph’s University (Philadelphia). He was a member of the National Association of Sewer Service Companies (Owings Mill, Md.) for more than 20 years. In addition to being a member of WEF, he belonged to the North American Society of Trenchless Technology (Liverpool, N.Y.), National Utility Contractors Association (Arlington, Va.), National Mining Association (Washington, D.C.), and American Rental Association (Moline, Ill.).
Abbott provided sales and manufacturing expertise from the sewer rehabilitation industry to Godwin Pumps. Since joining the company in 1989, he became the primary sales contact with consulting engineers and worked on hundreds of large and small bypass operations, pumping process sewers, and municipal treatment plants, pump stations, and sewer systems, according to a Godwin Pumps news release. He helped build the company’s distribution network throughout the United States and Canada. In addition to managing product pricing and overseeing bids, he had speaking engagements at trade functions throughout North America.