SHREVEPORT, La. - Imagine the challenges involved in designing a unified comfort system for a 25-floor super-deluxe hotel with 606 rooms connected to an enormous floating casino boat and a temporary theater with seating for 1,350. Add to that a growing attached luxury retail area and four restaurants plus an employee cafeteria. Now locate the facility in Bossier City, La., with an annual average of 2,538 cooling degree-days and chronically high summer humidity. Allow for expansion of at least another 300 hotel rooms.

This was the daunting challenge facing the owners of the Horseshoe Casino and Tower as they began developing the casino and recreational complex near Shreveport in 1994. Riverboat gambling is the centerpiece of this facility, but it also has extensive convention facilities and a growing retail center. Both of these are on-shore and connected to the casino boat. In addition, the facility has a five-story parking structure that can accommodate 1,800 vehicles as well as surface parking for another 1,000 vehicles. The casino and hotel facility today provides jobs for 2,840 area residents.

According to Ron Payne, director of facilities and marine operations for Horseshoe, much of the direction for the facility has come from majority owner Jack Binion. "We've taken the high road in the design of this facility. Our direction was not to skimp in materials or in design. That specifically includes the comfort equipment." Payne indicates that he believes customer comfort is one of the reasons the Horseshoe operation consistently has the highest number of guests and the highest casino revenues of any facility in Louisiana.

Payne indicated that Mr. Binion wanted the facility to reflect high quality, "...the biggest and the best." That's the reason most of the hotel cooling is done with a chilled water system with individual fan-coil units in guest rooms and variable air volume (VAV) equipment in public areas, including hallways, restaurants and retail areas. These are supplemented with blower coil air handlers.

All of the public areas are spacious and well ventilated. This is a requirement because of the large number of visitors to the facility. Horseshoe's records show that the recreational site has had 21 million visitors in the past five years. Payne noted, "Over the recent July Fourth weekend alone we had 50,000 visits. And because of the 24-hour casino operation, there is no time when there isn't a steady stream of visitors. For this reason, equipment needs to be kept on-line around the clock and comfort levels must be constant."

The actual casino is aboard a boat on the Red River. This facility, "The King of the Red," replaced a smaller casino boat, "The Queen of the Red," in 1998. Casino staff members recall that the casino was closed for less than six hours while the earlier boat was moved away from the moorings and the new boat was moored and connections were completed to shore.

The King of the Red has 29,840 square feet of gaming space, just under the 30,000 square-foot maximum specified by Louisiana state law. Gaming areas include many of the familiar casino games - slot machines, blackjack and roulette. Cooling for the casino portion is provided by three Trane Model RTHB screw chillers.

High levels of outdoor makeup air are mixed with the air stream in the casino area through Trane Climate Changer® air handlers and a variable air volume (VAV) distribution system. Even though smoking is allowed in the casino, high ventilation levels make it almost unnoticeable. And because of these high ventilation levels, deep coils and low chilled water temperatures are essential for adequate dehumidification.

In the hotel, as well, high ventilation levels mean aggressive dehumidification is a requirement. The first portion of the shore facility was built in 1994 and is served by two 350-ton Trane Model CVHE centrifugal chillers. In 1998, the hotel was expanded and the temporary theatre was added. With these additions came two more Trane chillers. These are 850-ton Model CVHF units. For both pairs of units, typical summer condenser water temperature is 97 degrees F going to the cooling tower and 90 degrees F returning.

Chief of maintenance for the hotel is Gus Hayes. He indicated, "System efficiency is important, but customer comfort is our primary mission. That's why reliability and a great control system is important." Hayes noted that they want to keep the chilled water delivered to air handler coils below 45 degrees F to assure adequate dehumidification. "We just experienced 17 consecutive days with temperatures that got about 100 degrees F, mostly with high humidity. So for us, maintaining low chilled water temperatures is critical."

Hayes added that the other key to maintaining comfort in the facility is the control system that allows central control of comfort conditions with widely varying occupancy levels and weather conditions. The entire Horseshoe facility is controlled by a Trane Tracer Summit® building automation system.

Hayes said, "This control system has great capacity. We're still learning about the levels of control and the system diagnostics that are available. We plan to use more of these functions in the future."

Hayes added that in the Shreveport-Bossier City area, there is a high level of pride that this world-class gaming facility was designed, built, and is operated by local people. Hayes indicated, "We also take a lot of pride in the comfort levels everywhere in the facility - the hotel rooms, the restaurants, the casino - everywhere. The emphasis is customer comfort." Given the high levels of attendance at the casino and in the hotels and shops, customers appreciate the effort.

Publication date: 12/08/2003