Embodied Energy in Two Historic Resort Hotels. The Hotel Del. And, Mackinaw Island’s Grand Hotel.

As summer approaches, thoughts turn toward time off/time away and relaxation.

But, to remain true to green blogging, this post is about embodied energy seen in two marvelous resort hotels of the Victorian era. But first…

embodiedenergychart2“Embodied energy is the total energy required for the extraction, processing, manufacture and delivery of building materials to the building site. Energy consumption produces CO2, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, so embodied energy is considered an indicator of the overall environmental impact of building materials and systems,” according to Level.org.

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation states that preserving buildings “…saves energy by taking advantage of the nonrecoverable energy embodied in an existing building and extending the use of it.”

According to some, the greenest building is an existing building. The USGBC’s LEED scorecard gives value to building reuse in 2 credits under “Materials and Resources.”

Hotel DelWhat a fabulous place the Hotel del Coronado is! Very historic. It was opened in 1888 as an “architectural masterpiece, acclaimed for its spectacular seaside setting,” according to a brief history at the hotel’s website. The Crown Room was architect James Reid’s “special pride.” The ceiling is sugar pine, and is fitted together solely with pegs and glue. Nary a nail in it.

It was conceived as a fishing and hunting resort, and was reached by rail. There was a spur for the hotel. From the Journal of San Diego History “…a typical dinner menu [at the time would have included] ‘mackerel, smelts, barracuda — followed by quail, venison, canvas back duck and fresh vegetables grown every month of the year.'”

Did you know this is the first hotel in U.S. history to have electrified lighting throughout? Edison himself came to the Hotel Del to oversee the electrification project prior to construction completion. Per the owner’s spec, the electric wires were drawn through gas lines to the various fixtures so that, in the event the electric didn’t work, the wiring could be pulled out in favor of the standard gas illumination. Originally the guest rooms all had fireplaces with chimneys projecting through the various rooflines.

Otis1There were elevators. Elisha Otis had been working to perfect mechanized vertical transport for 34 years by the time they were employed in The Del. By the Victorian period, birdcage elevators were popular as they allow passengers to look outside to the surroundings as the elevator moves floor-to-floor.

Films made at the hotel include “Some Like It Hot” (1958) with Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemon and Tony Curtis.

Birdcage elevator operator back in the day at The Hotel Del

Birdcage elevator operator back in the day at The Hotel Del

Today it has 757 rooms on 7 floors, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (1977) and is rated a 4-diamond AAA hotel.

It’s also a Green Seal Bronze lodging property (GS-33), meaning it meets the organization’s standards for waste minimization, water and energy efficiency, hazardous substances handling and environmentally responsible purchasing. Not sayin’ it’s LEED certified, but Green Seal is well-recognized in LEED for its standards for green cleaning products.

Grand HotelThe equally historic Grand Hotel opened on Mackinaw Island in 1887, just a year earlier. It too is an architectural masterpiece, overlooking the West Bluff of the Michigan island at the east end of the Straights of Mackinac. Its architect was Carlton Varney.

Grand Hotel2One of this hotel’s claims to fame is that its veranda is reputed to be the longest in the world; according to the 1972 National Register nominating report: the “…hotel has some Colonial-Revival details, especially on the enormous deep verandah, which is 628 feet long.” It overlooks the vast Tea Garden and the resort-scale Esther Williams swimming pool.” Some 2,500 geraniums adorn the veranda in 260 or so planting boxes and has been its signature flower since the hotel first opened its doors.

The pool was named for the famous actress after she starred in “This Time for Keeps,” filmed in color at the hotel in 1947. Her co-stars were Jimmie Durante, Johnnie Johnston and opera singer Lauritz Melchior.

As of the late 1980s, the Stable building could house as many as 50 horses and numerous appropriate wooden carriages or wagons for hooking up. Horse-drawn, bicycle or foot are the most common forms of transportation on the island. “Somewhere in Time” (1980), starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, was also filmed at the hotel. An exception was made for the use of motorized vehicles in the movie.

The Grand Hotel is a member of the Historic Hotels of America group.




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