Slough’s double-decker hotel sets bar for best practice

Hotel exterior

Slough’s new dual-branded hotel development has been designed to score high on comfort and low on environmental impact. Neville Small, Key Accounts Director at Baxi Heating, looks at the clever combination of renewable and high-efficiency heating and hot water technologies that is contributing to its environmental success.

Slough is on an exciting journey of renewal as new iconic buildings regenerate large swathes of its townscape. The cornerstone of the town centre’s revival is a striking £48 million mixed-use development that has transformed the former Old Library site into the first double-decker hotel of its kind in the UK.

The new nine-storey Marriott International hotel, which operates under the Moxy and Residence Inn brand, is part of a wider mixed-use scheme delivered by Morgan Sindall Construction for Slough Urban Renewal (SUR). Next door is Novus Apartments, a collection of 64 apartments with 4,100 square feet of restaurant and retail space on the ground floor.

Guest satisfaction is everything in the hotel business. Ensuring optimal temperatures in guest rooms, supplying plentiful hot water for showers and providing delicious food and drinks in the restaurant can all require a significant amount of energy usage. So, for hotels, achieving maximum comfort while minimising the carbon footprint of their building can be a tricky balance to strike.

Heating and hot water, often one of the largest users of energy in hotels, are central to optimising guest comfort. Ensuring an energy-efficient solution that would meet all the requirements at the Marriott International development was therefore critical to the success of this project.

And it’s a challenge that has been successfully achieved, as the new dual-branded hotel development has been awarded a BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating for its energy performance. The rating, which reflects the energy efficiency of the building, how sustainably it was built and how well it will respond to user needs, is particularly rare for a hotel, given their typically large energy consumption.

Early engagement

So how did the design of the heating and hot water services contribute to this impressive outcome?

Early engagement between Morgan Sindall and Baxi Heating was instrumental in driving design efficiency from the outset, providing the opportunity to collaborate on the most appropriate total commercial heating and hot water solution that would meet all requirements.

With 244 luxury bedrooms in total across the two hotels, and a restaurant and bar in each, the demand for hot water in the building is understandably high.

Hot water usage in hotel buildings is often characterised by extremely high peaks followed by longer periods of low demand. For example, large numbers of guests taking a shower first thing in the morning will usually be followed by very little need for hot water throughout the day. A second peak will then occur in the evening – either due to guests taking baths, or to end of service in the hotel restaurant and the cleaning down period for the kitchens.

Direct-fired condensing gas water heaters are an effective solution to meeting the sudden peaks as they can deliver large volumes of water in a short time to satisfy demand. A key benefit of this approach is that it reduces energy loss between peak periods as the system will only use energy when hot water is required.

Two Andrews Water Heaters SUPAflo EVO SF64 direct-fired condensing water heaters, were selected as the best solution to meet the project requirements. Designed specifically for high demand environments, these units can produce a continuous supply of hot water at a superior recovery rate of 4,900 litres an hour. Built-in digital controls ensure easy installation, diagnostics and maintenance while the unique pre-mix burner system and optimised stainless steel heat exchanger and bronze primary pump ensure energy-efficient, cost-effective operation.

The units are complemented by two 780-litre glass-lined buffer vessels, to ensure that the system will satisfy the requirement for hot water during periods of peak demand and high occupancy at the double-decker hotel. 

Neville Small
Neville Small

Natural ventilation heat recycling units (NVHRs) have been installed to maintain optimum temperatures in the two hotels, providing a low-energy solution that will maximise comfort while minimising carbon emissions. Working alongside the NVHRs to ensure reliable space heating at all times are two compact condensing boilers, chosen for their reliability, high efficiencies, low NOx levels and flexible design.

Electricity is another large source of energy consumption in hotels. Photo-voltaic (PV) solar panels have been installed on the roof of the building to generate renewable electricity for use within the Moxy and the Residence Inn and help offset the building’s energy consumption.

Delivering both aesthetically and environmentally

The new hotels, which opened their doors at the start of February, deliver aesthetically as well as environmentally. Designed by award-winning architects Franklin Ellis, the scheme achieves its aim to create an exciting new focus for Slough while respecting the heritage of the existing High Street.

The Moxy, which provides 152 luxury bedrooms, follows a unique design theme with Thunderbirds graphics in honour of the vintage series filmed in the town by its creator Gerry Anderson. The Residence Inn’s 92 suites, in contrast, are designed with longer-staying guests in mind and boast fantastic views of the London skyline.

The pandemic hit the country at the busiest time for the site, bringing unprecedented challenges including a 90% drop in operative levels overnight. But thanks to an excellent working relationship between the project partners, both hotels were able to open three-months ahead of schedule, on budget, safely and in line with government guidelines. The early collaboration between Morgan Sindall and Baxi Heating also helped avoid any potential delays from multiple deliveries.

“We were proud to deliver this fantastic new development ahead of schedule, during the logistically challenging period of COVID-19 restrictions,” said Steven Vaux, Senior Project Manager at Morgan Sindall Construction. “This was due in part to the great relationship across the project team, including with our suppliers Baxi Heating.”

The development has driven £40.1million of social value reinvestment into the Slough community. Education programmes engaged 2,000 students through curriculum-based events. 22 jobless residents were employed and over 1,200 hours were voluntarily invested in community projects. 70% of the hotel employees are Slough residents. The development has left a positive lasting legacy on the surrounding area driving inward investment, opportunities and community wealth to benefit all stakeholders.

The scheme is a joint venture between Slough Borough Council and national urban regenerator Muse Developments.

“The hotels are a fantastic asset and our projects continue to be a catalyst for change in the town,” said Andy Howell, general manager for Slough Urban Renewal, SUR.

“As well as the essential accommodation they will provide for both business and leisure users, the additional bar and lounge facilities will give a new sense of life to this area of the high street.

“Sat alongside Novus Apartments, our new collection of homes, we have created an exciting and enticing new hub for the benefit of the wider town.”

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