First 100% solar-powered U.S. Marriott hotel coming soon

LANCASTER, PA—High Hotels will soon be installing a $1.5-million solar array at the Courtyard by Marriott Lancaster, making it the first U.S. hotel under the Marriott umbrella to be powered completely by the sun.

“The decision to ‘go solar’ is consistent with High Hotels’ commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Russ Urban, president of High Hotels. “High Hotels has been advancing many environmentally responsible practices across its hotel portfolio, including converting the interior and exterior lighting at the Lancaster Courtyard to LED, which will lower electricity demand by 15%. Installing solar is another important step in this progression.”

Work is scheduled to begin on the installation of the solar array in June, with completion expected in September.

Part of the funding for the project is coming from a $504,900 grant High Hotels received from Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) through its Solar Energy Program (SEP). An independent agency of the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), the CFA is responsible for evaluating projects and awarding funds for a variety
of economic development programs, including the Solar Energy Program.

The Lancaster Courtyard will receive a credit from PPL Electric Utilities Corporation for the power generated by the solar array, which will be turned over to the SEP. Any excess power will be sold to the utility.

High Hotels is also working with Marriott on the project. “We are working closely with the Marriott organization, plugging into its different teams to communicate this innovation,” he said. “Marriott has a strong sustainable positioning and shares our excitement for the project.”

This location was specifically chosen for its position in the Greenfield Corporate Center, a 600-acre master-planned mixed-use campus. “[It has] a strong track record of sustainable practices going back many decades,” said Urban. “Greenfield has the advantage of more than 3 million sq. ft. of rooftop space that can be evaluated for possible solar installations. After evaluating several on-site and near-site alternatives, High Hotels decided to install the solar array on the roof of a nearby building in Greenfield Corporate Center. Utilizing the existing roof saves more than three acres of open land and has additional aesthetic benefits.”

The installation of the photovoltaic panels will fill an area more than twice the size of a football field. The roof will support 2,700-plus ballasted panels generating more than 1 million kWh of electricity through the year. The panels will be manufactured by Canadian Solar, headquartered in Guelph, Ontario; Ephrata, PA-based Meadow Valley Electric Inc. will install the array.

The carbon offset of 922 metric tons of carbon dioxide is the equivalent of 197 passenger cars driven for one year, 1,008,846 pounds of coal burned, or 99.6 homes’ energy use for one year. The system will produce more power than the hotel consumes, supplying neighboring buildings with power and reducing congestion in the local grid. In supplying 100% of the hotel’s electricity needs, the solar array will make the Lancaster Courtyard a “Net Zero” building. Lancaster, PA, receives an average 3.8 kWh/m2 of sunlight per day.

Urban knows the importance that sustainability has in the hospitality industry—and how adopting these types of practices can be beneficial to business. “The eco-conscious segment of the travel market is growing, and, at the same time, our traditional travelers are becoming aware of the environmental impact of their decisions. This has implications for driving revenue. High Hotels team members are educated about—and emboldened to practice—earth-friendly habits. We invite and encourage our guests to join us in our efforts to be good stewards of the environment and our resources. High is committed to environmental stewardship, and we want our guests to have confidence that their stay with us will be both comfortable and consistent with their values,” he said.

The installation of solar panels, as well as the switch to LED lighting, are not the only sustainable practices at the property. “As with all the hotels in our portfolio, the Lancaster Courtyard pursues conservation programs that reduce consumption, and therefore cost, making our hotels the green choice of eco-conscious travelers,” he said. “Our responsible use of resources includes recycling programs, linen and towel reuse, low-flow faucets, showerheads and toilets, energy-efficient lighting, and donating linens and other items in the communities in which we operate.”

While no definitive plans are set
for any other High Hotels properties to go solar, this project could be a starting point. “We strongly believe in solar power and will look to apply lessons from this as we expand our portfolio of premium select-service hotels,” said Urban.