The green theme that’s moving across the country is affecting the hospitality industry. There are private groups, such as the Green Hotels Association, and states, including California, Pennsylvania and Vermont, officially working to promote and reward hotels’ eco-friendly efforts.

Not only does a hotel help the environment by going green, it also cuts costs and acquires potentially valuable marketing options. So far, there are only four Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified hotels in the United States, but many more are registered or in the planning stages. Administered by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the LEED Green Building Rating System is the nationally accepted standard for green buildings.

The Hotel Terra Jackson Hole in Teton Village, Wyo., scheduled to open in December 2007, is one of the nearly completed, LEED-registered hotels. It will be the first in a collection of such hotels launched by the Jackson Hole-based Terra Resort Group. By 2015, Terra Resort Group intends to develop more than a dozen Hotel Terra eco-conscious properties in resort locations worldwide.

The six-story Hotel Terra is a condominium hotel property that offers suites or single guest rooms, which can be broken up into as many as 72 separate rental units. Its design is inspired by the natural landscapes of Jackson Hole and its Western sensibility, seeking to incorporate indigenous materials with modern functionality. Guests will enjoy rough-hewn lumber with steel detailing, granite stonework lit by fanciful light fixtures and flagstone fireplaces with modern furnishings, all created with environmentally conscious design.

Top technology

Each guest room or suite will be outfitted with Bose surround-sound speakers, flat-screen televisions and touchscreen telephones. There will be complimentary wireless Internet access throughout the hotel and guest rooms. The property will include a spa and fitness center, a living room-style lobby, an oversized outdoor rooftop hot tub, two restaurants, and snowboard and ski rental shops.

DHS General Contracting Inc., which is a sister company to the Terra Resort Group, is the general contractor of the project. DHS worked previously with Wheeler Electric Inc. of Idaho Falls, Idaho, and based on that relationship, DHS invited Wheeler Electric to be a part of the Hotel Terra design/build team. Wheeler Electric, which has licenses in five mountain states, is eastern Idaho’s largest electrical contractor. It employs a staff of approximately 125 and has completed projects in Georgia, New York, Minnesota, Washington, California and Hawaii.

Wheeler has maintained a crew of approximately 12 electricians on-site throughout the 20-month Hotel Terra project. The electrical room is on the ground floor, into which Wheeler Electric is installing a 4,000-amp Square D main switch.

“All of the metering will be inside the electrical room,” said project manager Shane Monson, who has worked for Wheeler since 1985. “That will make a really clean setup for the building, with only the transformer outside the building.”

There will be 18 electrical panels, ranging from 100 to 600 amps, to service the common areas of the property. An additional 40 panels will service the condo units.

Heating is an important part of the project. While the house areas of the Hotel Terra will use traditional heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) climate control systems, Wheeler Electric will install electric Comfort Cove radiant heaters by Radiant Systems Inc. of Valentine, Neb., in the individual living units. Wheeler also is installing two systems by Bylin Engineered Systems of El Dorado Hills, Calif. The first is Bylin’s patented roof ice melt (RIM) system that specifically targets areas of a roof prone to ice dam and icicle formations. The RIM system consists of continuous-heated aluminum and copper panels that directly and efficiently heat roof eaves and valleys. It is an aesthetically attractive system that safely provides reliable electric heat through self-regulating heating cable technology.

The other system by Bylin is its WarmGlo electric radiant heat system, installed under the condo unit bathroom tile floors. Its electric heating cables attach directly to the subfloor and are hidden in the mortar or other setting material under the flooring to provide uniform radiant heat.

Building systems

In addition to performing the traditional electrical work on the Hotel Terra, Wheeler Electric also is performing all of the low-voltage work. Wheeler has been doing low-voltage for the past 10 years, and Jerry Lamprecht, a 17-year veteran with Wheeler, leads all of its telecommunications projects.

The project currently calls for about 700 telecommunications drops, including the cable TV system, which, in addition to the telephone and computer networks, will be transmitted over Category 5e+ unshielded twisted pair cabling. Lamprecht will use nonplenum cable by Superior Essex, and the system devices will be by Leviton. All of the horizontal cables will be home run to patch panels and supported by The Loop cable hangers from Arlington Industries.

There will be four telecommunications rooms—one MDF and three IDFs—that will be interconnected by fiber optics cables by Corning terminated with 3M connectors. The property intends to use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

There also will be a 1,200-foot interbuilding fiber optic cable installed in buried conduit between the Hotel Terra and a Terra Resort Group neighboring property, Teton Mountain Lodge, for communications interconnectivity. Similarly, Terra Resort Group’s next project, which actually will be a Hotel Terra second phase, also will have fiber optic interconnectivity.

“The three will have operational connectivity,” said Shelley Holland, a Terra Resort Group managing partner, “so a guest from one of the hotels can have dinner in another one and still bill it to his room.”

“Our electricians on the project will prewire and pull all of the cables for us,” said Lamprecht, “and then it will just take a couple of guys to do the terminations.” Wheeler Electric also will install all of the cabling and devices for the fire alarm system and SimplexGrinnell will then certify it.

Several of the Hotel Terra lighting systems are noteworthy. For example, building codes prevent any outside lights from disturbing the community’s natural night sky.

“So while the building and walkways are externally lit, it’s all with downward-facing fixtures,” Monson said.

Wheeler will install a GRAFIK Eye preset lighting control dimmer system by Lutron Electronics Co. Inc., of Coopersburg, Pa., in the Terra Café. GRAFIK Eye allows the user to adjust the choice of lights and intensity of lighting in any part of a room to create preset scenes that can fade or brighten at variable rates, from instantly to one hour.

With all the complicated systems installed in the Hotel Terra, Wheeler Electric was able to deliver. This kind of electrical contractor is the perfect entity to include a host of services and equipment, especially as the hospitality industry goes for green. 

MUNYAN is a freelance writer in the Kansas City, Kan. area, specializing in business writing and telecommunications. He can be reached at