The Corbie Ring Hotel in the Belgian town of Lommel is arguably the most sustainable hotel in Belgium. During construction of the hotel, which is now partially open, the owner opted to install the TripleAqua: an energy-efficient heat pump employing natural refrigerant propane (R290), a hydrocarbon, with a global warming potential (GWP) of three.
“This is the most sustainable hotel in Belgium thanks to the TripleAqua,” Bart Beerten, owner of HVAC contractor Willems-Diels – which installed the unit at the Lommel hotel – told Accelerate Europe.
Jan-Baptist Koch, the hotel’s owner, nods in agreement. He has a passion for sustainability, and has even installed solar panels in his home. “We asked [Beerten] to look for a good technique to put savings in our pockets, of course, [and one which] is environmentally sound.”
“This is the most sustainable hotel in Belgium thanks to the TripleAqua.”Bart Beerten, owner of HVAC contractor Willems-Diels
Koch is also owner and manager of two other Corbie hotels – one in Lommel and one in Mol, where his parents first started the business. His sister Pauline Koch, who is also an artist, runs a further Corbie hotel. She is responsible for the design and decoration of the Lommel Corbie Ring hotel, which incorporates the local area’s high-quality glass in its aesthetic.
The hotel has 27 hotel rooms and 20 business flats, with a small reception area and a breakfast area. It generally caters for business guests.
TripleAqua plays starring role
The TripleAqua, an invention of Accelerate Europe’s ‘Person of the Year’ for 2017 Menno Van der Hoff of TripleAqua Licensing Ltd.,, is an outdoor 113 kW unit. It has been placed on the roof of the hotel.
The unit provides the hotel’s entire space heating and cooling throughout the year. It is connected to 54 internal HVAC units and a floor heating circuit, allowing guests and staff to adjust the temperature in individual rooms and common spaces according to their needs.
Beerten first met Van der Hoff at an HVAC&R show where the latter was exhibiting the TripleAqua. He approached Filip Van Hulle, sales manager at ECR Belgium (part of the Beijer Ref Group) – who is responsible for TripleAqua sales in Belgium – to discuss various sustainable HVAC&R options.
Van Hulle proposed the TripleAqua to produce all the building’s space heating and cooling – in combination with a condensing water heater to produce hot water – as an extremely energy-efficient solution. The other option was to install a separate heat pump to provide hot water to serve the hotel’s entire demand, including the showers.
Beerten also looked at integrating solar energy into the hotel’s energy picture. In the end he decided on the TripleAqua together with a separate condensing water heater for hot water production, with no solar panels because the heat pump takes up too much space on the roof. The solar park and wind turbines close to the town serve the hotel’s energy needs.
According to Beerten’s calculations, the current setup was the best option, as space heating and cooling is generally responsible for the majority of a building’s energy consumption.
It also had the highest payback for the end user and was the most environmentally friendly solution, Beerten argues.
For Koch, trust played a key role in following Beerten’s recommendations. ”I looked over it and said [to Beerten], if you say this is the best option, I will go for it,” he said.
Beerten has made a theoretical calculation comparing it to his work in the other Corbie hotel in Lommel, where he installed a different heating and cooling system. “It’s [around] 50% more efficient,” he told Accelerate Europe.
Beerten also praises the uniqueness of the system. “We can take heat from the south [which has glass windows that warm up the reception area] and [redistribute] it to the north side,” which does not get as much sun during the colder winter months.
“We [also supplied] the hotel [with a balanced] ventilation system,” Beerten says. In a balanced ventilation system, a network of ducts throughout the building supplies air to vents in each room without the different airflows crossing each other and recovers air through a heat exchanger.
“This allows us to recover warm air during the winter and cool air during the summer,” Beerten says. Also, “during the winter the water is stored for later heating [in the system] and can also be used later as heat,” he notes.
An important aspect of the system is its low-temperature lift. Most heating systems use radiator pipes at temperatures of up to 70°C, according to Beerten, but rooms can be heated efficiently with under-floor water pipes at lower temperatures.
The TripleAqua generally heats and cools the three water pipes to return ambient temperatures ranging from 28-36°C and 12-16°C.
“We told [Koch] to keep the rooms at 18°C” as standard, and then let the customer change the temperature through a small panel in their room to what they want,” Beerten says.
This system is not the only environmental technology employed in the hotel. Beerten recommended collecting rainwater to use in the toilets and elsewhere.
Koch is also expanding the family business: “We [may start building] a new hotel in the summer.” The TripleAqua could also be installed there. Koch has been pleased with it so far and plans to add a page on the system’s environmentally friendly credentials to the hotel guide that he is writing.
“We will convince them to install the TripleAqua [again],” Beerten says. “We think it’s the best solution for a hotel.”
To learn more about this story, please read the full version of this Accelerate Europe here.
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