Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center Success Story

Bill Clemens, Pacific Power regional business manager, and Mike Lemke, director of engineering at Marcus Whitman Hotel and Conference Center.From left: Bill Clemens, Pacific Power regional business manager, and Mike Lemke, director of engineering at Marcus Whitman Hotel and Conference Center.

From the moment its doors opened in 1928, the Marcus Whitman Hotel aimed to offer a one-of-a-kind experience. For instance, it was the only hotel at the time to use the same system for heating and cooling its guestrooms. With this time-tested idea of first-class comfort and a modern view of energy efficiency in mind, the facility’s management recently fine-tuned the historic downtown Walla Walla, Washington, property’s HVAC equipment.

Adding control

When new owners renovated the property in the early 2000s, all its major systems were upgraded. However, on the heating side of the facility’s four-pipe HVAC system, the water flow was not well controlled.

“It was all done mechanically with throttling valves,” said Mike Lemke, the Marcus Whitman’s director of engineering. “We had two large pumps running wide open at times.”

Not only did this create high water pressure within the system, the pumps were using more electricity than necessary. To solve the issue, Doyle Electric, the hotel’s electrical contractor and a Pacific Power Energy Efficiency Alliance vendor, recommended using the utility’s wattsmart® Business program incentives to help pay for adding variable frequency drives on the system’s water pumps. VFDs are electronic controls that regulate motor speed and torque, resulting in reduced energy consumption. When the pumps do not need to run at full speed, the VFDs make the adjustment.

Upgrades lead to savings

Marcus Whitman Hotel’s energy efficiency project received $1,950 in Pacific Power incentives to help with upgrade costs. The VFDs are saving the Walla Walla landmark approximately 26,580 kilowatt-hours in electricity and $1,390 in energy costs annually.

“A big benefit along with the energy savings is the improvement in guest experience – controlling the water pressure has reduced the water flow noise in the guest room heaters,” said Lemke.

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