As Earth Day approaches, many hospitality businesses are focusing on ways that they can reduce their environmental impact and promote these green practices to their stakeholders. One of the most important environmental goals that a business can embrace is energy conservation. While energy conservation strategies are often associated with high-cost renovation projects and upgrades, there are several ways that hotel managers, supervisors and employees can help to reduce the building’s overall energy consumption through their daily actions.
Following are easy no-cost or low-cost ways to reduce energy consumption in your hotel.
Promote energy conservation tips to employees and guests.
Awareness can be a powerful thing. When people feel like they are part of something bigger than just themselves, they are more likely to join in. But it takes more than just asking each person to cut back on energy usage – it’s important to communicate where your hotel currently stands and where you want to take it; then explain how each person’s individual efforts can help to reach that goal. When a person knows the why and the how of what they are being asked to do, they are more likely to connect with the vision and participate. Helpful resource: AH&LA Green Tips for Travelers
Conduct energy audits.
Building maintenance routines should include regularly scheduled energy audits to track and monitor the effectiveness of your equipment. Things change, including the condition of your equipment and surroundings, as well as opportunities for new innovation. A regularly scheduled energy audit with your power provider will help to keep tabs on how well your equipment is running, and any new opportunities for newer better products, including rebates and incentives. To learn more about energy audits, check out Energy Star’s “Guidelines for Energy Management” Step 2.5: Conduct Technical Assessments & Audits.
Seek out most energy efficient equipment for replacements.
It is not necessary, or even recommended, that you swap out all of your equipment at once for more energy efficient models. (Doing so could produce more GHG emissions related to waste than is reduced through energy use reduction.) But what is necessary is that you identify IN ADVANCE the equipment you own that is the most inefficient, and identify the best choices for replacement for when the time comes. Too often we wait until something breaks down, and then scramble to replace it as quickly as possible. Last minute purchases are unlikely to result in the best overall choice for price, efficiency and fit. Take the time in advance to inventory your existing operating and computing equipment, identifying your least efficient models and creating a replacement plan as needs become apparent. Helpful resources: Energy Star’s Find Energy Star Products, and the Green Electronics Council EPEAT Registry.
Verify heating/cooling output matches occupancy.
No two hotels run exactly alike. There will be varying occupancy loads depending upon seasons, days of the week, and times of day. Take the time to learn more about your hotel’s occupancy load patterns, then check to ensure that HVAC systems are set to match the needs of your business. Helpful resource: Business Energy Advisor “Strategies for Demand Response”
Ensure equipment is scheduled to run at most efficient times.
As we all know, energy is not a one-size-fits-all commodity. The costs to produce it, delivery it, and use it can vary dramatically depending upon your location and the availability of sources. Your costs will also fluctuate considerably based upon your demand periods. Most utility companies charge a different rate for base usage, low-peak periods, and high-peak periods. You can realize significant savings on utility costs by knowing the timetable established for these rate variances and adjusting any flexible work tasks in accordance with these times (for example: laundry, carpet cleaning, etc.). Helpful resources: LADWP “Understanding Your Rates.”
Use daylight to help light interior spaces.
Sunlight not only provides an inexpensive light source, it makes people happier and more productive. Open up the window coverings and use the sunlight to your advantage! As much as possible, train housekeeping and banquet staff to clean and set rooms using natural lighting, and advise office personnel to open blinds. The positive impacts will go beyond energy conservation and will help to improve the overall mood and staff morale. Helpful resource: LEED Hotel News, Daylighting: Energy Saving and Productivity Boosting Benefits.