Inefficient energy use in buildings is one of the leading causes of climate change. We burn fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal) to create electricity, and energy inefficient buildings require more energy to function. The more energy we need, the more we create, and the more greenhouse gases are released to the atmosphere through fossil fuel combustion. It is now common knowledge that when we burn fossil fuels and cut down trees, we add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere that trap the sun’s heat. More heat means more unpredictable weather and other big changes for life on Earth.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the hotel industry spend on average well over $4 billion on energy, and that number continues to increase – especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq War’s impact on oil prices. Energy usage accounts for 60-70% of the utility costs of any typical hotel. One area where significant advances can be made is in energy management – and over the past decade, evidence of this trend may be seen at just about every hotel. The most common sign is “re-lamping” – which is replacing traditional incandescent bulbs with low-energy fluorescents. Another common approach is identifying thermal leakage points, such as windows and doors, and sealing them appropriately. The strategies above do, of course, represent worthwhile steps in reducing energy consumption. However, the potential for energy management savings goes much further than this. Advances in technology, and a well-planned approach to systems design, can yield a substantial decrease in energy consumption – and with that decrease comes significant additional savings in energy costs.
Hotels, especially full-service facilities, have a wide-array of energy uses and a correspondingly wide-array of savings possibilities. From lighting to cooling to cooking, a hotel can easily save energy, money and the environment.
Here is a basic energy plan that can be implemented by any hotel, whatever the size, to be more energy conscious:
Step 1: Make a Commitment
Step 2: Amount of Energy Use
Step 3: Find Opportunities
Step 4: Develop a Goal
Step 5: Create an Action Plan
Step 6: Implementation and Evaluation
Step 7: Reassess
Step 1: Make a Commitment. In order for a hotel (or any other organization) to be successful in reducing energy consumption and its associated costs, a commitment to allocate sufficient resources to any energy management initiative must be made.
- Appoint an Energy Director — Sets goals, tracks progress, and promotes the energy management program.
- Establish an Energy Team — Executes energy management activities across different parts of the facility and ensures integration of best practices.
- Institute an Energy Policy — Provides the foundation for setting performance goals and integrating energy management.
Step 2: How Much Energy Does Your Facility Use? Look at hotel’s bills and see how much energy wasting is costing your facility! Develop a facility-policy to purchase energy efficient equipment when old equipment needs replacing to conserve energy when possible.
- Gather and track data — Collect energy use information and document data over time.
- Establish baselines — Determine the starting point from which to measure progress.
- Benchmark — Compare the energy performance of your facilities to each other, peers and competitors, and over time to prioritize which facilities to focus on for improvements.
- Analyze — Understand your energy use patterns and trends.
- Technical assessments and audits — Evaluate the operating performance of facility systems and equipment to determine improvement potential.
Step 3: Where and What Are Your Facility’s Opportunities? There are multiple opportunities wherever your facility uses energy.
- Fluorescent lights use up to 90% less energy than conventional incandescent lights! Fluorescent last 7 times as long and reduces labor for changing. They also emit very little heat, which can save a great deal of cooling costs. Install fluorescent lighting.
- LED Exit Signs. Replace exit signs with LED lighting – they never burn out and use 90% less energy.
- ENERGY STAR. Whenever the hotel buys computers, copiers, refrigerators, washers, dishwashers, vacuum-cleaners, air conditioners….you name it – any type of electrical equipment – look for the Energy-Star logo. This means that this device has been tested and rated to be in the top 1/3 of the brands in the market from an energy-efficiency standpoint.
- Automation. Lighting sensors and automated thermostats are easy to install and will pay for themselves in a matter of weeks!
- Heating and Air-Conditioning. How old is that system and when was it last maintained? Try to isolate the hotel’s costs for heating and air-conditioning through metering or bill estimates and consider how much the facility could save with an energy-efficient system.
Step 4: Develop a Goal You know how much energy your facility uses today. Create a team and develop an energy reduction goal. Set goals like, “Can we reduce our energy consumption by 10% this year? How are we going to get there? How much money can we save?!” By having a goal in place, now the energy team has a target. Also, you can easily translate these savings to environmental benefits by using an energy-emissions calculator [click on this link to access the calculator]. For instance, if your facility reduced consumption by 200 KwH per month, then your facility could claim reduced environmental emissions from power generation of 3000 pounds of Carbon Dioxide, 6.8 pounds of Nitrous Oxide, and 1.7 pounds of Sulfur Dioxide. Now that’s nothing to sneeze at!
Step 5: Create an Action Plan. Based on the goals you have developed for your facility, you now must develop a roadmap to accomplish those goals to improve energy performance. Action plans should be updated on a regular basis (about once a year) to accommodate for shifting priorities and previously unseen issues that may have surfaced.
- Create performance targets for each facility, department, and operation of the organization to track progress towards achieving goals.
- Set timelines for actions, including regular meetings among key personnel to evaluate progress, completion dates, milestones and expected outcomes.
- Establish a tracking system to track and monitor the progress of action items. This system should track and measure energy use and project/program activities.
Determine Roles and Resources
- Identify internal roles – Determine who should be involved and what their responsibilities will be.
- Identify external roles – Determine the degree to which consultants, service providers, vendors, and other product providers will be used.
- Establish performance metrics (if appropriate) – If contractors will be used, determine what standards will be used to evaluate bids and incorporated these metrics into agreements with contractors.
- Define and secure sufficient resources – For each project or program in the action plan, estimate the cost for each item in terms of both human resources and capital/expense outlay. Develop the business case for justifying and gaining funding approval for action plan projects and resources need.
Step 6: Implement and Evaluate Action Plan. The effectiveness of an energy program depends on the people who are implementing it. Gaining the support and cooperation of key personnel at different levels within the facility (management, maintenance, etc.) is an important factor for successful action plan implementation. In addition, reaching your goals frequently depends on the awareness, commitment, and capability of the personnel who will implement the projects.
Evaluating the progress of your efforts includes formal review of both energy use data and the activities carried out as part of the action plan and comparing it to your performance goals. Evaluation results and information gathered during the formal review process can be used to create new action plans, identify best practices, and set new performance goals.
To implement your action plan, consider taking the following steps:
- Create a communication plan — Develop targeted information for key audiences about your energy management program.
- Raise awareness — Build support all levels of your organization for energy management initiatives and goals.
- Build capacity — Through training, access to information, and transfer of successful practices, procedures, and technologies, you can expand the capacity of your staff.
- Motivate — Create incentives that encourage staff to improve energy performance to achieve goals.
- Track and monitor — Using the tracking system developed as part of the action plan to track and monitor progress regularly.
To evaluate your action plan, consider taking the following steps:
- Measure results – Compare current performance to established goals.
- Review action plan – Understand what worked well and what didn’t in order to identify best practices.
Regular evaluation of energy performance and the effectiveness of energy management initiatives also allows energy managers to:
- Measure the effectiveness of projects and programs implemented.
- Make informed decisions about future energy projects.
- Reward individuals and teams for accomplishments.
- Document additional savings opportunities as well as non-quantifiable benefits that can be leveraged for future initiatives.
ENERGY STAR — ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping everyone save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices. Because a strategic approach to energy management can produce twice the savings — for the bottom line and the environment — as typical approaches, EPA’s ENERGY STAR partnership offers a proven energy management strategy that helps in measuring current energy performance, setting goals, tracking savings, and rewarding improvements. EPA provides an innovative energy performance rating system which businesses have already used for more than 62,000 buildings across the country. EPA also recognizes top performing buildings with the ENERGY STAR.
ENERGY STAR for Hospitality –EPA, through its ENERGY STAR® program, has developed this resource to provide partners with guidelines for superior energy management built on the practices of industry leaders. These guidelines can increase profits, enhance the comfort of hotel guests, and focus limited resources to achieving a hotel’s business objectives. Following these steps will allow participating hotels to demonstrate their environmental commitment by reducing pollution and the emissions that contribute to global warming.
Also, see ENERGY STAR’s “Leaders in the Hospitality Industry Tap the Power of Superior Energy Management” factsheet.
DOE’s Building Technologies Program, under of the office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), partners with states, industry, and manufacturers to improve the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings. On this site you’ll find information about the program’s research and development of innovative new technologies. Discover energy-efficient building practices and resources for designing, building, and operating commercial and residential buildings.
California Hotel and Lodging Association – This website has information on hotel case studies related to energy efficiency, guides on how to conserve energy, a link to ENERGY STAR’s benchmarking online tool, how to implement and energy plan, and much more.
A Basic Energy Audit Checklist — Many facilities have found that conducting an energy audit will result in significant benefits, including the discovery of energy inefficiencies and new ways to save on energy costs – perhaps as much as thirty percent – depending upon your facility’s energy-use scenario.