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How to Really Save on Energy Costs and Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Diana Szpytma 22 June 2018
How to Really Save on Energy Costs and Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

By Cian Duggan, Chief Technology Officer, Carbon Credentials, a carbon performance and management business

Energy usage can be one of the biggest overheads for a hotel group regardless of size. Rapid change of use in room occupancy across accommodation and events and often a mix of old and new building fabric with different energy systems can make it very challenging to manage.

But if you want to increase turnover, improve guest reviews and save on energy costs, the right energy management approach ensures that guests enjoy your rooms and facilities for longer – if they’re not too hot or too cold then they will stay and spend more.

Your business will also save at least 10 to 20 per cent in energy costs and future proof itself against further energy price rises, cut maintenance costs by not over-running equipment, be able to identify faults faster and increase employee engagement along with corporate appeal.

Get energy performance wrong and not only does your hotel business potentially waste hundreds of thousands of pounds, but it also reduces guest comfort levels, increases maintenance costs and reduces your hotel’s appeal to a growing number of corporate guests who want to see real proof of sustainability – not just a ‘please re-use your towels’ notice.

Looking ahead, by December 2019 hotels with more than 250 employees, or an annual turnover of £39 million, will also need to submit detailed reports on their energy use across buildings, transport and operations as part of phase 2 of the Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme (ESOS). Village Hotel Club and Morgans Hotel Group are two of our clients already gearing up for ESOS phase 2.

Energy auditing

Where should a hotel business start? Regardless of size, firstly a hotel needs to assess its energy efficiency. This means getting a really accurate picture of its energy usage via data analysis of its Building Management System. This can be done as part of ESOS or another energy compliance programme.

For example, in a 200-room hotel, an accurate energy audit will gather data from across 1,000-2,000 data points over a two to four week period to provide a complex model of how energy is being used, then analyse it against variables such as occupancy and outside temperatures.

High quality data analysis will quickly highlight the problems and areas for improvement, whether it’s boilers, heating, air-conditioning, maintenance, over-running of equipment, unoptimised controls – or a combination of all.

Our audits offer a range of key recommendations, often identifying up to 40 possible and practical changes, while highlighting the three to four key priorities that if fixed will massively reduce energy usage and costs immediately. While these larger fixes frequently achieve savings of over £10,000 each annually, smaller ones can also save thousands.

Any energy audit, whether ESOS driven or not, should not just be treated as a ‘tick box’ exercise but used to create a long term vision to drive energy cost transformation, with a solid business case to obtain board level buy-in and commitment.

To maximise the data analysis and opportunities available, a hotel can ask a specialist company to develop and take ownership of a sustainability programme and create an energy performance optimisation strategy which it can deliver without the day to day operational distraction of running a hotel.

This optimisation of energy performance can include monitoring equipment remotely so issues and faults can be quickly identified and rectified before they become an issue with guests and waste energy, or potentially damage your equipment. Performance data can also pinpoint issues that regular in-house maintenance teams can find very difficult and time intensive to trouble-shoot. For example, a faulty sensor can be identified without taking down ceilings or fixtures unnecessarily.

Fully measuring and verifying any implemented changes provides a ‘before and after’ picture to show the real impact to the bottom line. For example, Village Hotel Club achieved a saving of £460,000 in 2017 out of total £5.5 million in energy spend. This is expected to increase to over £500,000 by the end of this year. For a small hotel group we would expect to easily achieve savings of around £100,000-£150,000 in year one.

Employee engagement and education

Alongside any good sustainability programme or ESOS process there should be a focus on employee engagement across individual hotels to regularly train and educate employees on energy usage and ways to decrease consumption as part of their individual job specification to consistently ensure guest comfort. This education can be a particular challenge in the hotel industry which sees a regular turnover in staff, but delivered correctly brings great rewards when employees can see how much energy can be saved, the impact on carbon and how it equates to sales.

Get your hotels’ energy performance and sustainability programme right and you’ll not only greatly reduce your energy costs and carbon footprint, but also improve guest comfort levels, corporate appeal and help strengthen staff engagement. It could be one of the best investments you make in your business.