A Royal Retrofit

Sustainable Lodging

Aside the roof, every system in the home was original and close to its end of life. That allowed the Crossmans to integrate a host of new technologies into the building and has reaped significant cost-savings as a result.

  • A total energy management system using infrared sensors to determine room occupancy kills power to empty rooms after 30 minutes and the thermostat allows the room temperature to float between plus or minus 4 degrees, resulting in tremendous energy savings. An efficient water-source heat pump allows for individual room temperature control and saves on the space necessary to heat and cool the building by using relatively narrow pipes instead of large ducts. A new boiler replaced the ancient, energy-draining model and features a variable drive that helps keep costs low by using as few of the four burners as necessary to meet hot water demand. The Crossmans said their monthly summer power bill averages $1,000 for more than 20,000 square feet of usable space. That figure is less than half what the local power company estimated for the building’s power consumption. Colin attributes the cost-savings to the interaction of the building’s original construction, including features like numerous large south-facing windows, with the high-efficiency systems the couple installed. “The walls are 18 inches of stone with an air gap, which engineers told us is some of the best insulation you can have. We have no filled insulation anywhere but the attic, and yet our utility bills are kind of like one or two houses,” he said.

    The 10,000-gallon underground cistern, shown here in mid-installation, collects the majority of the property's stormwater runoff. The collected water is later reused for outdoor irrigation.

  • A 10,000-gallon rainwater cistern collects more than half of the stormwater runoff generated on the property. The cistern water is then used for outdoor irrigation. A recessed rainwater garden in the front yard that is filled with a soil mixture that is 50-percent sand collects excess runoff, irrigating drought-tolerant plants and filtering the water as it seeps into the ground. Between the cistern, rain garden and the construction of an innovative, pervious concrete parking lot which allows water to percolate through it (the first of its kind in the county), the property captures all of its own runoff and adds nothing to the city’s stormwater management system.
  • The gray water system employed at the King’s Daughters Inn collects and reuses drain water from its commercial washing machine. Enough water is recaptured, filtered and reused to flush toilets in the building up to 43 times per load. Coupled with low-flow faucets and shower heads and high-efficiency toilets, the inn is billed for an impossibly low average of $200 per month in water usage. “We have 26 bathrooms, a commercial kitchen and a commercial laundry,” Deanna said. “Some houses around here will run $60 or $70 a month with just two bathrooms and a kitchen.”
  • LED lighting has been installed in many areas throughout the inn, and as technology improves—some LEDs don’t emit enough lumens to satisfy safety codes for lodging—Colin hopes to have nothing but LEDs in a few years.

In addition to these system retrofits, the Crossmans encourage guests to use complimentary bicycles to get around town. They also employ local artisans to provide everything from bath amenities like soap and shampoo to the chocolates on guests’ pillows.

A Dream Realized

Since the inn opened its doors in April 2009, the Crossmans have seen a steady increase in business and are now running at occupancy rates closer to hotels and motel standards than with lower-volume bed-and-breakfast operations. The inn offers first-class amenities including flat-screen TVs, high-speed wireless Internet, meeting and event space, gourmet breakfasts and evening wine and scotch.

The blend of new and old is what the Crossmans were aiming for when they set out four years ago to give the rest home a new life. “People sometimes think that if you do a lot of green building, it means ultra-modern,” Colin explained. “With the inn, guests will see that isn’t the case—green building and historic preservation can work together beautifully.”

Project Team

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