The Westin St. Maarten Dawn Beach Resort and Spa is the first Westin resort to utilize solar panels to reduce energy consumption throughout the resort. Phase one of the solar photovoltaic system has been installed on the resort’s roof and includes 480 Suntech solar panels, with 1,200 solar panels scheduled to be installed by 2014. The resort’s owner, Columbia Sussex Corporation, enlisted the expertise of Anthony Prall Jr.’s Caribbean Energy Store to design a system to facilitate its 317 guest rooms, restaurants, restrooms, laundry facilities, and spa. The resort began taking advantage of the island’s abundance of sunshine in 2007 with the installation of solar panels to heat the water used in the property’s guest rooms. Regional director Dan Szydlowski says, “With sunshine nearly guaranteed year round, we saw only positive attributes to making this capital and environmental investment.” The system will avoid 40 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions and 35,000 pounds of nitrogen oxide emissions over the next 30 years. It will also save 4,875 tons of oil, otherwise needed for electricity production, the equivalent of planting 2,500 trees annually, according to Prall.
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