In Part 1 of this series we learned that everyone in a hotel, and every department, can have an impact in energy consumption. In this next installment, we begin to look at the role key individuals and departments play in designing and executing successful energy and utility conservation programs. We begin with the hotel’s fearless leader, the General Manager, and his engineering team.
Energy conservation leadership at the most senior level at a hotel is vital to the success of the program. The GM should routinely make energy and water conservation an agenda item at staff meetings. Department heads need to know what the hotels annual budget for utilities is, and what the goal is to reduce consumption and costs going forward. The GM should establish an energy committee made up of a representative from each department that meets on a quarterly basis to review the hotel’s conservation efforts, and should consider electing an associate to become the hotel’s energy champion and chairman of the energy committee.
The engineering and maintenance staff can certainly have the biggest impact on energy and water conservation in a hotel, and should be at the forefront of thinking green. First, the Director of Engineering should know and understand the utility tariff components for what is almost certainly your largest monthly utility cost – electricity. Having a good understanding of the electric tariff will help a property identify ways to reduce costs. If a hotel is on a time of use rate, for example, electricity costs more during certain times of the day than others, so you may save money by shifting consumption. And make sure the staff understands the difference between the peak demand (kW) part of your bill and the energy consumption (kWh) part of the bill. Many rates include peak demand ratchets, too, so you may pay for a particularly high demand day not just in your current billing month, but for another 11 months too.
Your hotel may already have a real time electric meter, or your utility may be able to provide that data to you if you have a smart meter. If so, your team should access that data to understand how and when the property uses electricity. It is easy to see from looking at that information when chillers and air handlers kick in, or when guests are checking into rooms or taking showers. If you don’t have a real time meter, having the engineering staff read utility meters on a daily basis will help you understand what factors drive energy and water usage. Problems will be identified as they occur instead of waiting for the utility bill.
Don’t forget the impact of water conservation on your hotel greening initiative. Here is a simple idea – toilets should be checked periodically to ensure that there are no flapper leaks. To do this, test the toilet by inserting blue dye (available in packets with two dye tabs) into the toilet tank. If blue water appears in the bowl after several minutes, there is a leak that needs to be repaired. A single toilet can leak as much as 3.0 GPM and waste more than 4,000 gallons of water each day!
Your engineering team should develop a property specific energy audit check list and periodically lead “walk around audits” conducted by members of the energy committee. Consider doing some of them in the dark – you can find lots of savings opportunities at night. Make sure everyone is turning off lights and ensure that thermostats are set back where possible. Finally, the engineering team should work with housekeeping to train their staff on the importance of seasonal HVAC temperature set-points, especially for unoccupied rooms.
In our next installment, we’ll take a look at the important contributions which can be made by other departments. Stay Tuned!