A four-star-plus hotel has opened in 2018 in the north of Hamburg: the Nordport Plaza Hotel. Within view of the Hanseatic city’s airport, the hotel is remarkable not only for its impressive architecture and fittings but also for its outstanding energy concept. In addition to its striking appearance, the hotel boasts a unique energy concept that is based on renewables – thus minimizing the facility’s environmental footprint while ensuring cost-efficient operation.
The ten-story, 35-meter-high main building has a sharp-edged elliptical shape that looks like an eye when seen from above. Most of the hotel’s 188 guest rooms are located in the main building. The ninth floor is home to the exclusive Senator Lounge, which is transformed into the Sky Bar in the evening. Right next to the Lounge is the spa area, which comprises a gym, rooms for spa treatments and two saunas. Elegantly curved around the main building is an adjoining building – known as The Eyebrow because of its shape. This four-story structure contains a restaurant that seats 200 and a conference center. The two parts of the hotel are connected by a plaza with an inviting beer garden. The decor of the Nordport Plaza reflects the design language of the 1960s, when air travel was still something special.
Focus on renewable energy
The Nordport Plaza was planned and built by project developers Melanie Morgenthaler and Thorsten Schütte, the core team from Premero Immobilien. For the hotel’s power-supply concept, the aim was to use predominantly renewable energy sources in order to keep the hotel’s CO2 emissions as low as possible. Working with Daikin, the team from Premero developed a renewables-based building services concept that minimizes environmental impact while ensuring cost-efficient operation.
In 2015, Daikin had launched an initiative called FOR F.R.E.E. that aimed to promote energy efficiency through the use of renewables. The Germany-wide call for proposals was open to greenfield hotel projects that were still in the planning phase at the time. The initiative sponsors were looking for hotels that would serve as lighthouse projects for the
industry in terms of their energy efficiency, renewable energy use, low CO2 emissions and intelligent networked power supply as well as their ease of operation and user friendliness. The Nordport Plaza Hotel was one of the projects that made it to the final round.
Geothermal energy covers all heating and cooling requirements
An integral part of the concept is the use of geothermal energy to meet all of the hotel’s heating and cooling requirements. The Nordport Plaza’s challenging location – directly adjacent to a nature reserve – turned out to be an advantage. No above-ground construction was permitted at the property boundary, so the area was used for geothermal probes. Around 50 boreholes were drilled to a depth of 130 meters. A geothermal heat pump system was then connected to the boreholes – resulting in a heat sink capacity of 435 kW and a heat source capacity of 261 kW. The ground-source heat pumps provide heating and cooling for all of the hotel’s systems, with the exception of the ventilation system in the adjoining building, the so-called Eyebrow, which is cooled by a Daikin chiller and heated by pumped hot water.
Heat transfer cuts energy consumption
Climate control throughout the hotel is provided by systems from Daikin, with a total of 242 indoor units ensuring a comfortable indoor climate for an area of about 9,000 m². Eight ventilation units installed on the roof and in the basement of the hotel circulate around 60,450 m³ of air every hour. Water-cooled VRV heat pumps that have a heat recovery function and are connected to the geothermal heat pump systems provide the guest rooms on all floors with decentralized cooling and heating. The VRV heat pumps feature a triple-pipe system that enables intelligent heat distribution, making it possible for heat to be transferred directly between the rooms on a given floor as required. Excess heat is immediately directed to the rooms where it is needed. This approach can also be implemented for entire floors, without involving the centralized heating system. Energy losses are thus minimized, and the amount of power and heat that must be generated is cut.
Decentralized air conditioning on each floor
In the main building, floors one to eight each have 19 guest rooms and one service room for housekeeping. In the guest rooms, ducted units are installed in the false ceiling of the en-suite bathroom. In the housekeeping rooms, a wall-mounted unit provides climate control. All units are connected to an outdoor VRV heat pump system located in the utility shaft for the floor. The advantage of having decentralized climate control on each floor: in the event of a malfunction or maintenance work, only one floor is affected and the rooms on the other floors can still be occupied.
Intelligently networked with the hotel booking software
In the rooms, guests can regulate the climate control system via remote control. With its three-pipe design, the VRV heat pump system enables guests to individually adjust cooling and heating settings. To minimize energy consumption, all rooms are connected to the hotel booking software. If a room is unoccupied, the setpoints for heating and cooling are adjusted accordingly. Only when a guest checks in does the system switch back to comfort mode.
Air conditioning and ventilation technology in the adjoining building
In the adjoining building, The Eyebrow, the utility center is in the basement. The ventilation systems for the restaurant and the conference rooms and for the air supply for the kitchen and the guest rooms as well as all outdoor units for this part of the building and the chiller are located here. All ventilation systems are heated by pumped hot water and cooled by Daikin’s water-cooled chiller. A separate air distribution network also provides fresh air for this part of the building.
Special feature of the hotel: Combined heat and power (CHP) installations
An unusual feature of the Nordport Plaza – especially for a hotel – is its use of combined heat and power (CHP) technology. The more a CHP installation is in operation, the higher its efficiency. And a hotel “runs” all the time, 365 days a year, non-stop. The Nordport Plaza has two cogeneration systems – a redundant setup that eliminates the need toconnect to the public power grid in the event of a power failure. The hotel has special authorization to make immediate use of the electricity it generates.
The Premero advantage: Project developer and builder in one
In its dual role as project developer and builder, Premero leverages three advantages: first, the company integrates building technology systems into the planning process at an early stage; second, it can freely choose its construction partners; and third, it can freely choose building products and fittings, without investment costs always being the only decisive factor. Thorsten Schütte, project developer for the Nordport Plaza, describes his experience in planning and building the hotel: “Although the planning costs were higher than usual, the use of technologies that are energy-efficient right from the start is extremely profitable in the long term. The tenant benefits from lower operating costs and the investor benefits in the event of a sale.“
The Fraunhofer Institute will monitor the Nordport Plaza project for ten years to see if the hotel meets its ambitious goals for energy efficiency and carbon neutrality. Premero’s project developers are convinced that the building’s energy efficiency will be unparalleled. If that’s the case, the hotel is not only ecofriendly – its operation is also certain to be very cost-effective well into the future.
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