Harmon Guest House conservation diagram by Brett Randall Jones
By now you’ve likely read about the historic drought facing Northern California and Sonoma County, where we own and operate Hotel Healdsburg, H2Hotel, and the Harmon Guest House.
In Healdsburg proper, residents have been asked to cut back water usage by as much as 40 percent—a dramatic (but mission-critical) attempt to conserve the limited resources the city has at its disposal until the first rains of the year.
Early returns say locals have done the work; recent stats indicate Healdsburg residents cut water use by 54 percent this July when compared to July 2020, the most of any city in California.
Even though businesses were exempt from the new rules, we were happy to support these conservations goals and have implemented strategies to conserve water while still delivering a hospitality experience to match guests’ expectations.
Harmon Guest House water filtration system
Water Conservation Efforts
We’re also proud of the water conservation efforts we’ve had in place for years. Perhaps the best example of these efforts is a giant concrete cistern that sits beneath Harmon Guest House. This large tank was installed when Harmon’s parking garage was built, meaning we erected the entire hotel around it. The tank can hold 16,000 gallons of water enough to handle landscaping without any additional water from the city for an entire summer. (It also helps that we’ve planted drought-tolerant flora around the hotel.)
When it rains—and eventually, it will rain again this year—water is collected and immediately sent to a filtration system that is visible to guests from the breezeway on the south side of the hotel. From there the water goes directly into the cistern, where it is stored until landscapers need it.
There are smaller cisterns at h2Hotel as well.
Daniele Petrone, senior project manager for Piazza Hospitality, said incorporating these water catchments was a nod to the future.
LEED Gold certification awarded to h2hotel
“For us, a big part of our hotel identity is that we’re not just for visitors—we want to be an integral component of the community for locals and visitors alike,” he said. “ As we see the impacts of climate change, we understand the importance of designing for resiliency and resource management.”
Across the trio of properties, we have taken additional measures to conserve water and minimize the resources we use overall.
Both h2Hotel and Harmon Guest House have received Gold-level status from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, a national program that certifies structures as sustainable.
Across all three of the Healdsburg hotels, we’ve installed low-flow water fixtures such as sinks, toilets, and showers; based on operational data we estimate this move has reduced water use by about 40 percent across the board.
To bring all these initiatives to life, we turned to David Baker Architects in San Francisco.
Brett Randall Jones is a principal at that firm and said he helps many different clients with sustainability. He described our commitment to resource conservation as “refreshing” and “progressive.”
“Piazza always has made sustainability an important piece of their projects, which is incredibly important considering the environmental conditions facing the areas in which they operate,” he said recently. “For us, it has been fulfilling working with them in that regard.”
We are excited to continue water and energy conservation initiatives at other projects across California. Our newest property, Hotel SLO in San Luis Obispo, has some of the same water conservation measures we’ve put into practice in Healdsburg. Our next property, Hotel Sebastopol, will incorporate photovoltaic power to use net-zero energy.
Down the road, as we begin exploring a fourth project in Healdsburg, we are investigating the viability of incorporating cisterns and other protocols to develop a hotel that uses net-zero water. Particularly in the context of the current drought, the mere possibility of this kind of innovation is exciting.