The new Comfort Inn & Suites on Gordon Highway near Bobby Jones Expressway hosted city leaders this morning.
It is such a great day for Augusta, our first green hotel, said Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver. It is my hope that this will set the bar for future hotels in Augusta.
The $4 million hotel is open to customers and nearly finished. More solar panels need to be installed on the roof, said its owner, T.R. Reddy, an India-born hotel developer and electrical engineer.
There are six rows of pipes 200 feet underneath the hotel that constitute the geothermal cooling system, he said. One set of solar panels on the roof of the overhang provide some electrical power.
The rooms have low-flow faucets and energy-saving light fixtures. The front desk can control the energy usage of each room, as well, in case guests leave on lights when not in the hotel room. There are infrared sensors to sense whether people are in the room, Mr. Reddy said.
Mr. Reddy started a wholesale power control equipment company in Augusta in 1985, Powerline Inc., which designed and installed the lighting a power controls for the Jacksonville professional football stadium and the General Motors Saturn manufacturing facility in Tennessee.
The solar panels create 40 percent of daily requirements, Mr. Reddy said of his new hotel. Eventually, we may be approaching 60 to 70 percent power supplied ourselves.
Though the green features added 25 percent to the cost of the hotel, he said he feels the expense will be paid back through savings and tax credits over the next five years.
Having a green hotel is also a selling point to entice visitors, Mr. Reddy said.
Statistics prove that at least 20 percent more people visit green hotels, he said.
The hotel employs 19 people.
Augusta Commissioner Calvin Holland said he was pleased with the development coming to that area of Richmond County.
South Augusta is an untouched area. We feel that the potential of this area will grow, Mr. Holland said. South Augusta is ready and south Augusta is growing.