A tale of mixed uses: How Hilton overcame barriers to energy efficiency at the Austin Convention Center

By Better Buildings Beat Team on Jun 12, 2017

The Hilton Austin Convention Center was a unique challenge for the Hilton team when it came to energy-saving upgrades; the space is a city-owned, mixed-use complex that contains the 801-room, 24-floor Hilton hotel, the Chamber of Commerce, 99 condos, and of course, a convention center. Mixed-use facilities often mean property managers must consider barriers like multiple sources of energy use, sustainability and LEED certification when it comes to resource allocation. Hilton focused on upgrading its hotel, freeing up capital to ensure enough resources were available to address the entire Convention Center, creating an excellent use-case for other mixed-use facilities.

The City of Austin was very supportive of energy efficiency improvements. By focusing on guestrooms, common areas, kitchen, and laundry, the Hilton Austin Convention Center was able to cut its energy use by 31 percent, saving $400,000 annually. Some of the specific measures taken include:

  • New guestroom thermostats with occupancy sensors and temperature pre-sets for better control;
  • Building automation system (BAS) upgrades, with a weekly BAS optimization schedule based on meeting space reservations;
  • LED upgrades and retrofits in the garage and common areas;
  • Melink hoods in the restaurant kitchens with demand control kitchen ventilation, for better exhaust and air balance; and
  • Variable frequency drives for the on-premise laundry exhaust system for better load control.

As part of the overall effort to improve performance of the building, Hilton also wanted to better understand and accurately measure its chilled water consumption. Though each business in the space was responsible for its own utility bills, chilled water consumption was not submetered. Instead, cost and consumption were allocated based on total square feet for each business. After BTU submeters were installed, both water and chilled water consumption could be accurately allocated, measured, and managed for each party. 

These measures have improved day-to-day comfort and efficiency for operations, guests, and hotel staff. Find out more about this showcase project in the Better Buildings Solution Center!