Hotel Marcel in New Haven Connecticut, the world's biggest Passive House? Our tech tour featured on Undecided with Matt Ferrell!

Posted by Paul Braren on Nov 1 2022 (updated on Nov 16 2022) in
  • Efficiency
  • SmartHome
  • Official Passive House certification takes at least full year of operation and monitoring to become official, but it's a pretty safe bet that Hotel Marcel will meet that goal. Read onward and watch the video to learn how!

    Hotel-Marcel-photo-from-beckerandbecker-dot-com
    Photo courtesy of beckerandbecker.com. Notice the large solar canopies covering the EV charging area, with Tesla Supercharging also available in that same area soon. The hotel lobby's bathrooms, drinks, and snacks are available 24x7 to EV travelers, amenities that are rarely so close to DC fast charging locations.
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    Ageto microgrid monitoring screenshot, from Matt Ferrell's excellent video.

    Thirty-three-year-career Architect and Developer Bruce Becker was the President of the EV Club of Connecticut for many years, and we are both part of the small leadership team that met up at his just-barely-opened technological marvel called the Hotel Marcel back in June of 2022. Bruce graciously gave us the full facility tour, and I think it's safe to say we were all amazed. I've featured Bruce in other articles, and I quite enjoy diving into the nerdier details of how he adopts newer technologies, seemingly with ease.

    What really struck me during this tour was imagining how much Matt Ferrell might enjoy seeing this place too. I've had the recent honor of a cameo in Matt's (million+ view) Why Heat Pumps are Essential for the Future - Explained video, and he and I are both working on our energy-efficient "forever" homes right now. This hotel struck me as a hugely scaled-up version of such energy efficiency projects, something I figured other people from this same planet might also find interesting.

    Maxwell-bus
    Hotel Marcel's all electric shuttle bus by Maxwell. A pollution-free way to visit nearby Yale. Powered only by sunbeams.

    In August, I spotted Bruce's Tour the Landmark Hotel Marcel! event set for September 29th by the Connecticut Green Building Council. This was it, a great opportunity to see if I could make the introductions and convince Bruce and Matt to meet up and have a look "under the hood" of this remarkable Tapestry Collection by Hilton hotel. While New Haven Connecticut a mere 40 minute drive away for me, it's more like 2.5 hours for Matt so I knew it was a bit of a longshot. My wife and I also had an electrician at our home that very same day doing major electrical work, prepping our new panel for a heat pump installation of our own, a story for another day. My wife got to stay back at home to "enjoy" the power outages without me.

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    Gladly, our visit to New Haven right off I-95 worked out very nicely. Matt pulled in right next to me in the EV charging area of course, with the hotel's new electric shuttle bus nearby. We both chuckled as we realized we're driving identical Model 3 Long Range EVs in the same Midnight Silver color. It turns out Bruce actually had the very first Model 3 in Connecticut.

    Insta360
    Shooting with an Insta360 is unique. Positioning matters, but aim is irrelevant. Viewpoints are chosen by the video editor during post-production.

    With time short, Matt quickly showed me the ropes as he entrusted me with his Insta360 camera. You'll see that he actually used a lot of the unique, pole-mounted, image-stabilized footage featured in his video.

    2022-10-31_19-53-43
    Screenshot of Matt's video, featuring Ageto ARC microgrid controller monitoring.

    Matt managed to capture the essence of the many magic moments through the magic of excellent video editing and story telling. I know I quite enjoyed our brief time together, as we experienced this very thorough tour of the entire facility, including:

    • Solar covered roof and solar canopies
    • Battery room featuring EPC Power inverter
    • 17 200lb Lithium iron battery modules by LG per rack, with 2 racks on both the 6th and 7th floors. That's 68 modules in all, totaling 1 MWh of battery storage
    • Ageto ARC microgrid controller with monitoring
    • Power over Ethernet patch panel for all-DC LED lighting and shades, using only 5,000 watts to illuminate the entire hotel
    • Mitsubishi heat pump HVAC, for all heating and cooling
    • DC powered KONE Elevators
    • ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilation)
    • Triple Pane Windows featuring superior noise isolation
    • Bradford White Commercial Water Heaters with foam-insulated supplemental storage tanks, with heat supplied by the Mitsubishi heat pumps located outdoors
    • Inductive cooktops in the kitchen, no natural gas

    Bruce decided to recycle/repurpose this existing building instead of bulldoze it in hopes of lowering the overall impact to the environment. He also took advantage of some of it's natural features that make it well-suited for living comfortably and safely right alongside a busy highway. Those thick concrete walls paired with triple paned windows sure help. I know that when I travel for business, what I care about most is a good night's sleep in a quiet, climate-controlled room. This place certainly delivers on both, as you'll see and hear.

    I know I found Bruce's casual way of mentioning how he overcame numerous huge challenges to be quite striking. Let us know what struck you by leaving us a comment below the video or this article. Enjoy!

    Video

    Undecided with Matt Ferrell - November 01 2022 - Can Solar Really Power This Entire Hotel?
    Still TBD Podcast - Nov 09 2022 - 142: Passive [House] Aggressively - Net Zero at Scale

    Here's a sampling of some of what Bruce said, as our private tour came to a close:

    We're trying to think to the future. I'm an architect and developer, and I have the ability to just study options and pick one. In the hotel world, the pattern is to just repeat a prototype. So if you're trying to introduce some new concepts like an all-electric kitchen, or not using any fossil fuels, it's not in the book. So, we had to sort of write our own book... I think that the problem with the hotel world was that there wasn't an example. Now there's an example, and there's a lot of interest in this. You know, we're going to be hosting sustainability conferences... I'm hoping that hen word gets out about this, and people get to come see it, and see that it does work and saves money, primarily that it's easier to market a sustainable hotel than one that isn't sustainable, that this can be a prototype, and this will be a new chapter in the book that people follow.

    Photos

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    Photo courtesy of beckerandbecker.com.
    2022-11-01_21-43-04
    Photo courtesy of beckerandbecker.com.
    Hotel-Marcel-Sep-29-2022-by-Paul-Braren
    Hotel Marcel, by Paul Braren.
    water-heaters-june-7-2022
    Utility room featuring heat pump based water heaters, and extra hot water storage tanks.
    Solar on IKEA New Haven, Connecticut by Paul Braren on June 7 2022
    Photo by Paul Braren on June 7 2022. Hotel Marcel is right next to IKEA, who clearly has a lot of solar on their roof too. Just a third of the roof seen here, from Hotel Marcel. A decade ago, this IKEA became Connecticut's largest solar installation at the time.

    Nov 02 2022 Update

    Photos added.


    Nov 03 2022 Update

    Title changed from:
    New Haven's Hotel Marcel, the world's biggest Passive House? Now featured on Undecided with Matt Ferrell!
    to
    Hotel Marcel in New Haven Connecticut, the world's biggest Passive House? Our tech tour featured on Undecided with Matt Ferrell!


    Nov 16 2022 Update

    So kind of Matt to do a shout-out at this spot on Still TBD Podcast 142. Thank you Matt!


    See also at TinkerTry

    three-year-heat-pump-water-heater-review

    i-saw-the-rivian-r1t-in-ct
    TinkerTry - May 2021 - Bruce Becker details the tech behind Hotel Marcel in New Haven Connecticut

    bruce-becker-interview

    See also

    hotel-thumbnail
    • Hotel Marcel

      A LANDMARK FOR THE FUTURE
      HOSPITALITY FOR THE PLANET

      A PASSION FOR PURPOSE
      It's like we're levitating with good vibes. Oh, yeah, actually we are levitating!

      With a redux of the landmark Pirelli building designed by Marcel Breuer — famed modernist architect and our illustrious namesake — we have reimagined an icon for the modern traveler.

      Beneath our Brutalist exterior we're a utopian feat of sustainable engineering using solar electricity to power our entire building. To light up the guest rooms. Cook delectable dinners for two or two hundred. Launder linens and let you personally choose just the right temperature for a perfect night's sleep.

    hotel-marcel-net-zero-becker-c2e-spc-intl
    • This revived architectural landmark could be the first net-zero hotel in the US
      Oct 7 2021 by Adeline Chen for CNN

      (CNN) — Bruce Becker has spent nearly his entire adult life designing buildings -- 33 years to be exact.
      For the 62-year-old architect and developer, one building in particular has consumed his time for the past few years. In 2019, Becker's firm, Becker + Becker, bought a local landmark and registered Historic Place in New Haven, Connecticut, for $1.2 million to realize his vision of a net-zero hotel -- believed to be the first of its kind in the US.

    2022-11-01_14-25-24
    • How Big Can You Make a Passive House?
      Nov 01 2022 by Matt Ferrell at Undecided

      Recently I’ve talked about my new net zero home I’m building, but not all net zero buildings have to be homes or houses. The same net zero, passive house concepts can be scaled up to large buildings, offices, and apartment buildings. In fact, I had a chance to visit the first net zero hotel in the United States and got to see some of the creative concepts at work. Stuff like this…

    undecidedmf

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