Foundation for Successful Energy Management

energy managementNationwide we’re seeing growth in the green economy, but hurdles still remain as hotels, companies, and other businesses look for resources and funds.

One growth area that we have noticed is the emergence of opportunities around energy. With Obama focusing on green and clean technology, we’ll be seeing more funds (tax rebates, federal energy incentives, etc) allocated to help businesses move towards our national goals. Case in point, over the next three years, $900 million in federal and state grant money will be going to Chicago for energy efficiency work according to Chicago’s Department of Environment.

Good news for the future, but what about now? Not only are resources needed, but money is needed. With banks virtually putting a freeze on grants to small businesses including hotels, more and more hotels are struggling to either meet budget goals, or even sustain their financing, forget about trying to fund an energy project.

So what can green hotels do now with limited funds? Aside from the simple measures such as replacing incandescent lighting to CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) or LEDs, we, at EcoGreenHotel,also recommend green hotels to prepare for an energy efficiency project.

energy starEnergy Usage & Benchmarking
It is astonishing to see how many properties are still not tracking their energy/utility usage. As a company focused on helping hotels stay in business, we don’t start any hotel energy projects without benchmarking it in ENERY STAR Portfolio Manager. Tracking and managing your energy performance is critical.

It is very simple, if you do not know where you are starting, the baseline, how do you know how far you have gone? How do you quantify energy savings or monitor your energy usage? How do you know if your most recent energy conservation measure reduced your usage? You have to evaluate progress, measure results and benchmark against your competition to know exactly where you stand. Otherwise it is going to cost you.

The key action hotels seem to overlook is they can start benchmarking and tracking energy usage anytime – even today. Hotels don’t have to wait until they have secured funds for an energy efficiency project or wait for senior management approval or new budgets. On the contrary, understanding current and past energy use is how many organizations identify opportunities to improve hotel energy performance and gain financial benefits. It can pay for itself by highlighting which hotels use the most energy, pointing to areas of greatest opportunity, and even identifying errors in utility bills, such as overcharges, that might have otherwise gone unnoticed and paid.

Assessing your energy performance helps you to:

  • Categorize current energy use by fuel type, operating division, facility, product line, etc.
  • Identify high performing hotels for recognition and replicable practices.
  • Prioritize poor performing hotels for immediate improvement.
  • Understand the contribution of energy expenditures to operating costs.
  • Develop a historical perspective and context for future actions and decisions.
  • Establish reference points for measuring and rewarding good performance.

In the end, starting sooner than later is going to benefit in the long run. Not only will the tracking system for maintaining the ENERGY STAR portfolio be established, but it will also become a standard process that your staff will be familiar with when you do start implementing your hotel’s energy efficiency projects, which will then allow free time for other things.

A Small Business Case: The Merits of Energy Efficient T8 Tube Lights

Today’s new generation of optimized, “high-efficiency” T8 lamps and electronic ballasts are available in a range of energy-saving models. Energy efficient lamp and ballast systems contribute significantly to reducing energy consumption and costs by nearly 30%. Paybacks of one to three years are common.

Upgrading your hotel’s fluorescent lamps and ballasts will:

  • Reduce energy consumption
  • Lower the hotel’s energy cost
  • Simplify maintenance and stocking requirements (low life-cycle costs), and
  • Provide illumination that closely resembles natural light

According to one property installation conducted by Cushman & Wakefield, “these products can reduce total system wattage by over 45% relative to the use of older T12 fluorescent systems driven by magnetic ballasts.”

Description
T8 lamps: Slim profile enables them to function more efficiently including longer lamp life, better lumen maintenance and higher color rendering capability.

Electronic ballasts: Designed to provide right voltage and current to lamp (programmable model). Use high frequency and solid-state circuitry instead of heavy copper. Save one watt of energy and product more light for each watt, run cooler and last longer.

Business Case
Installing new high performance T8 lamps along with electronic ballasts in guest bathrooms and the back-of-house of a 300-room hotel.

In guest bathrooms, two 40-watt fluorescent lights can be replaced with 25-watt T8 lamps and electronic ballast. The 290 back-of-house lamps, which run on average of 18 hours, can be converted to 25-watt T8 lamps.

Energy and Cost Analysis

[Assumptions: occupancy gathered from P&L, hours of lamps based on national average, and one electronic ballast for two T8 lamps installed]

Cost per kWh as stated on electric bills is approximately $0.144.
Cost per T8 lamp and half of electronic ballast including installation is $14.25.

GUEST BATHROOM

Equation:
Guest Rooms X Occupancy Rate X Number of Lamps X Reduction in Wattage X Number of Hours Used X Total Days X Kwhr Multiplier = Total kWh Saved

300     X         67%    X         2          X         15w     X         6          X         365     X         .001    = 13,205.7 kWh

BACK-OF-HOUSE

Equation:
Number of Lamps X Reduction in Wattage X Number of Hours Used X Total Days X Kwhr Multiplier = Total kWh Saved

290     X         15w     X         18        X         365     X         .001    =       28,579.5 kWh

Energy & Cost Savings Annual Electric Savings No. Lamps
Guest Bathroom 13,206 kWh 600
Back-of-House 28,580 kWh 290
Total Annual kWh Savings 41,786 kWh  
Annual kWh Electric Savings($0.144) $6,017  

 

Investment Payback (ROI) Investment ($14.25 ea) No. Lamps
Guest Bathroom $8,550 600
Back-of-House $4,133 290
Total Investment $12,683  
Return on Investment 2.1 years  

The numbers speak for themselves. You can easily calculate your green hotel’s custom lighting project’s ROI and savings by simply using the above equations.For more information on T8 lamps or to reach EcoGreenHotel’s recommended lighting specialists click here to contact us.

Overall, lighting represents almost a quarter (sometimes even more) of all electricity consumed in a typical hotel, not including its effect on cooling loads. According to ENERGY STAR, lighting retrofits can reduce lighting electricity use by 50 percent or more, depending on the starting point, and cut cooling energy requirements by 10 to 20 percent as well.

Even if your hotel’s budget is small you can still reduce your costs by upgrading to compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) – if you haven’t already. A Michigan Marriott replaced its public-space incandescent lights with CFLs and saved more than $40,000 in energy and maintenance costs. The historic Willard InterContinental in Washington, D.C., installed CFLs in common areas and guest rooms. The investment resulted in few complaints about lighting quality and a six-month payback based on energy savings.

In conclusion, whether you call them energy efficient, energy saving, high performance or high efficiency lighting, upgrading your hotel lights to the new generation technology makes cents!

Eco-Friendly Fabrics

Organic cotton to bamboo, these are the threads you should know about.

When it comes to purchasing your linens, you have the power to make a difference. It’s up to us,consumers including green hotel purchasers, to buy from companies that will create a shift in the market for our environment and long-term health.

You should know that not only are chemicals in the foods that we eat, but they are also found in our upholsteries, blankets, bed sheets and clothes. More and more, people are experiencing health problems such as rashes, allergies, respiratory and concentration problems due to chemical sensitivities. This adds to the growing demand of “green” hotel guest rooms.

So what makes fabric “eco-friendly”? Wikipedia defines eco-friendly (as well as environmentally friendly, nature friendly and green) to be used to refer to goods and services, laws, guidelines and policies considered to inflict minimal to no harm to the environment.

“Green” fabrics, for the most part, include any fabric made from sustainable or organic natural materials using fewer chemicals, sustainable operations and environmentally supportive manufacturing methods. Green fabric is also used to describe recycled fabric.

Lets focus on the following four eco-friendly fabrics. Keep in mind, these aren’t the only eco-friendly fabrics available – we’ve chosen these to start with.

1–Organic cotton: is weaved from non-genetically modified plants. It is certified as grown without the use of any synthetic agricultural chemicals, such as fertilizers or pesticides. It doesn’t damage the quality of the cotton or the land and surrounding ecology.

2– Organic linen with flax fibers: True organic linen is created with flax fibers. It comes in the color of a natural cream or light tan since pure white is only achieved through bleaching. Although it wrinkles easily, it is a great hot-weather fabric because it absorbs moisture without getting damp, thus drying quickly and cooling the skin. If you accept the wrinkle look charm, keep in mind flax fiber is stronger than cotton fiber and is less elastic.

3–Hemp: Ok, so it’s still illegal to grow hemp in the Unities States due to its association with marijuana. However, legislation is in the works to change. Right now it’s grown elsewhere in the world and, unfortunately, this increases it’s carbon footprint. Nonetheless, hemp products are manufactured in the U.S.

As for the hemp itself, it’s grown easily and is environmentally friendly. The fibers are mildew-resistant, antimicrobial, UV protecting and even fire proof. This makes it an ideal candidate for fabrics that get a lot of use, but it isn’t the softest option around.

4–Soy: It’s softer than cotton, much more durable, warm, absorbent, and lightweight. Made out of discarded tofu, it’s considered the ultimate sustainable fiber and sometimes referred to as “vegetarian cashmere” – “cashmere” due to its softness and luxurious appeal.

So how do you make fiber out of tofu, you ask? Well, leftovers from tofu manufacturing are gathered, liquefied, and extruded through spinnerets to create filaments that are spun into fine yarns. (Fun fact: Henry Ford first investigated the use of soy in textiles for his automobile in the 1940’s, but the arrival of synthetics on the scene stole the show – however it’s now being rediscovered).

Side note: There is much controversy around the use of bamboo for fabrics and products. Therefore, keep an eye out for EcoGreenHotel’sbamboo pros and cons article to help hotel operators make a well-informed decision.

Green Your Routine

By Susan Patel

I was watching clips of the Today Show a few days ago and found a segment titled “Green Your Routine,”which brought attention to green cleaning products. It got me thinking: why isn’t there a law or regulation requiring manufacturers to list ingredients? Not knowing what chemicals are in products can be dangerous. You don’t know what you’re using and how it could destroy our immune system, cause cancer, lung disease, and death – a health and safety nightmare!

Companies are shockingly allowed to use general terms for chemicals such as “fragrance”or “preservatives.” This wouldn’t make the cut with the Food & Drug Administration, but apparently products we touch and breatharen’t that important on the list. What we need is national regulation so that companies must disclose every ingredient in a product.

So, what are we to do? Warning labels are useful, first line of defense. But we need to start gradually creating a system that works for our well-being and us.We have to start somewhere, right? Why not with all of us – you!

At the frontline of the EcoGreenHotel Store, I’m on a mission to know exactly what we’re selling. One form of verification I’ve become familiar with is the Green Seal, a third-party certifier. Of course there is also EcoLogo, Environmental Choice and EPA’s Design for the Environment Program that test products for effectiveness, besides health and environmental considerations. I wouldn’t say one is better than the other since each is slightly different, however a certified product is better than none at all.

When hotels purchase products certified by Green Seal or any of the other eco-labels, they know that the products meet good standards and consumers aren’t completely on their own. Still, some green cleaning products are not certified. There are several reasons for this: the product might be new on the market, the company that produces it has chosen not to pay the fee the certifying agencies charge to evaluate it, or that they didn’t meet the criteria of that certifying organization.

When it comes to what we sell on EcoGreenHotel Store, we’ve made sure our green cleaning products are Green Seal certified. For example, the Proxi hydrogen peroxide multi-purpose cleaner, a versatile, environmentally friendly cleaning product formulated with an active ingredient that is safer than aggressive acids and bleaches. Added bonus, due to its high concentration (dilute 1oz per quart water to make 128 quarts), it’s actually saving you money too!

Aside for looking for a third-party certification, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) is another tool that helps hoteliers to make a well-informed decision. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) also has information about many toxic substances at www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/index.asp.

Next time you’re purchasing your green cleaning products, make sure you know what chemicals are in the products you’ll be using at your green hotel.

Generation Y’s Green Hotel Demands:

Not what you might expect!

A new study of the workplace preferences of Generation Y (people born between 1981 and 2000) reveals some striking information – and provides an important heads up for green hotels that hope to attract this up-and-coming demographic.

Not surprisingly, Gen Y’ers want their workplace to have the latest technology and to be set up to allow for greater teamwork, creativity and multi-tasking.  But an overwhelming number also expect their employers to provide an eco-friendly work environment that not just meets but exceeds minimum compliance standards.

For example, 96% of those surveyed said they demand an “environmentally-aware or friendly workplace,” and close to 60% said they expect their employer to go above and beyond the regulatory requirements. They want more than just strategically-placed recycle bins – they want real water conservation efforts and the highest level of energy efficiency to be standard operations at work.

The report recommends that employers bring their green initiatives front and center, and that they make sustainability policies a meaningful part of day-to-day operations, because the eco-savvy Gen Y’ers are clearly on the lookout for environmental-friendliness in all aspects of their daily lives.

“[Gen Y] preferences for an environmentally focused working environment are very strong; not only in the physical aspects of the workplace, but also in their way of working: flexible working, travel patterns, etc.,” said the report.

Are you listening, green hotels?Clearly, if the members of Gen Y are that determined to make eco-friendliness an integral part of their work-lives, they’re probably equally determined to exercise that same level of sensitivity when making travel and lodging decisions.

And there will be no fooling this knowledgeable bunch. They’ve grown up alongside the environmental movement. They know green-washing and lax or phony eco-standards when they see them.

If you’re ready to boost your hotel’s energy efficiency and water conservation efforts to prepare your property to attract a new generation of environmentally-aware consumers – contact EcoGreenHotel today.

From ENERGY STAR benchmarkingof your energy usage to finding rebates and incentives to help pay for energy efficiency upgrades to targeted, industry-specific marketing services, our professional green team has got you covered.

Feds and States Link Up for Energy Efficiency:

Excellent News for Green Hotels

In a move that will undoubtedly benefit green hotels across the country, the Obama administration recently announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy have teamed up to create an action group that will assist states in improving energy efficiency in residential, industrial and commercial buildings – including green hotels.

The group, called the State Energy Efficiency (SEE) Action Network, will partner with representatives of state and local governments, public utilities, business leaders and associations to assist states with their energy efficiency initiatives, including energy efficiency programs for homes and businesses,funding opportunities to invest in carrying out innovative energy efficiency policies, and improving the availability of energy usage information.

The action network’s goal is to jumpstart the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency, which calls for maximum energy efficiency to be achieved in the United States by 2025.  SEE’s ambitious mission is to beat that deadline by five years. It aims to do so by providing technical assistance and funding “to states that seek to create new results-based policies and programs that encourage energy efficiency.”

For green hotels, we envision a lot of good coming out of this partnership.  SEE’s fierce determination to beat the 2025 deadline by five years creates a much-needed sense of urgency that has been sorely lacking over the past few years.  The network’s goal of promoting energy efficiency through a web of statewide, regional and nationwide partnerships means there may finally be a coordinated, orchestrated and cohesive effort to get the job done.

And additional funding means that good state and local energy efficiency programs that have great potential to make a lasting difference – those that never received quite enough funding to get off the ground, or those whose funding was slashed – (remember Florida’s outstanding Green Lodging Program that was gutted due to budget shortfalls in 2009?) may once again have a fighting chance.

Thanks to the formation of this new action group, we see a future filled with wonderful possibilities for green hotels to take advantage of energy efficiency programs, rebates and incentives.  Members of the network began meeting a few weeks ago, so we should begin to see positive movement very soon.

EcoGreenHotel will be monitoring SEE events as they happen, and we promise to bring you the latest news about how the green hospitality industry – and your green hotel – can benefit.

The Best Business Strategy for Your Green Hotel, Energy Efficiency

At EcoGreenHotel, clients are always asking for our advice about how to go green in the quickest and most affordable way possible. And our advice is always the same: operating a truly green hotel is not a piecemeal proposition. It’s not about switching a few light bulbs or putting out some recycling bins (although those are all good things to do!).

No, developing and maintaining a green hotel requires a holistic approach that begins with a shift in the way everyone thinks about what it means to own and operate an eco hotel. At the precise moment that everyone from the owner on down starts thinking about environmental sustainability as a business strategy – that’s the moment your hotel begins to go green in a meaningful way.

Formulating a business strategy means that you meticulously choose and apply your business’s resources in a way that you think will bring some sort of competitive advantage in the future. Your team already does this at your hotel. Whenever you make a decision to upgrade the carpeting or offer a new amenity, you’re strategizing. You’re betting that the upgrade and new amenities will pay off in the long run through higher guest satisfaction, which translates into repeat bookings, which means increased revenue for your hotel. You are banking on that strategy.

But have you ever thought about how going green might be an equally good business strategy? Without a doubt, the most strategic way to go green is to increase your hotel’s energy efficiency.

Energy efficiency means using less energy to obtain the same quality of service. Here’s why energy efficiency should be the centerpiece of every hotel’s business strategy:

  • The hospitality industry spends $3.7 billion a year on energy.
  • Electricity use accounts for 60-70% of the utility costs of a typical hotel.
  • Energy-efficient lighting can reduce electricity use up to 75%.1

Clearly, making your green hotel more energy efficient will positively impact more than the environment. It will positively impact your bottom line, and no matter how you slice it, that’s just good business!

EcoGreenHotel’s team of energy efficiency experts can help your green hotel plug energy efficiency into your business strategy, quickly and affordably. Contact us and get started today with our Energy Efficiency Analysis Program.

1 California Hotel and Lodging Association

The Gulf Oil Spill: What Good May Come

Gulf front resort hotels are taking an economic hit without one drop of oil soiling their pristine beaches

We’ve all watched in horror as the ever-growing BP oil slick reaches shorelines along the northern Gulf of Mexico.  Not only did eleven men lose their lives in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, but the spill that resulted from it is now fouling gulf waters in an area the size of some states – water that’s home to sea life including dolphins and sea turtles.  It’s destroying precious marshlands that served as safe, healthy nurseries for all kinds of baby birds and fishes, right at the height of nesting and spawning season.  It’s also wiping out the livelihoods of fishing families and obliterating the culture of some of the sweetest, hardest working people in America.

And it’s also adversely affecting the hospitality industry.  In spite of BP’s multi-million dollar grants to gulf coast states to fund additional tourism advertisement, hoteliers from Texas to the east coast of Florida – many of whom are hundreds of miles from the nearest oil – report that they are dealing with a devastating economic fallout caused by cancellations from nervous travelers.

The director of Mississippi’s lodging association has estimated that beachfront bookings were down 50% with Memorial Day approaching, and the same was reported in the Florida panhandle.  This is all in addition to the hit the region took from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the recession that followed right on the storm’s heels.

How much more battering can the hospitality industry take?  How much more can any of us take?

If there was ever a wakeup call for America – including those in the hospitality industry – to get on board the energy efficiency and clean energy train, this oil spill is it.  At last, it appears that Americans are finally getting the message that we must wean ourselves off foreign oil – and our dependence on fossil fuels in general – and turn our collective attention to developing clean, renewable energy sources for our country as quickly as we possibly can.

Imagine the good we could accomplish if we took all the brain power and resources we’re currently using to try and plug that oil gusher in the Gulf, and applied them to developing cleaner energy!

On a day when we’re all feeling so helpless and frightened at the devastating environmental and economic news we’re hearing today, imagining that kind of good – and vowing to work toward making it our new American reality – may just be the most righteous thing we can do.

Five Quality, Affordable Products for Your Green Hotel’s Shopping List

(and One Convenient Place to Find Them All)

Today’s environmentally-conscious, well-informed travelers expect green hotels to do more than just provide a comfortable place to stay.  They want to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the green hotel they’ve chosen for their business or leisure accommodations practices energy efficiency, and that it’s resourceful and earth-friendly in every conceivable way.

As a green hotel professional, it’s your job to fulfill your guests’ expectations and even exceed them whenever you can. To help you get the job done, we’ve put together a list of products that will not only make your guest’s smile, but they’ll also be good to your green hotel’s bottom line.

  • Organic Personal Care Products in Biodegradable Packaging: The Save Your World line of hotel amenities offers all natural organic products packaged in an earth-friendly way. Your guests will love the fresh tropical scents and luscious feel of these superior green hotel amenities.
  • 100% Bamboo Bed Linens: Your green hotel guests will have no problem sleeping at night knowing they’re snuggled into luxurious sheets made from rapidly renewable, pesticide-free and ultra-soft bamboo.
  • Eco-Friendly Cleaners: Super concentrated, hydrogen peroxide-based cleaners like Proxi are not only safe and highly effective, they can also save your green hotel a ton of money. It takes just one ounce of Proxi to make a full quart of some of the best hard surface cleaner you’ll ever use in your green hotel – and it’s earned the Green Seal certification to prove it!
  • Safe Pesticides: Fighting and preventing bed bugs with toxic chemicals just isn’t on the agenda of any eco hotel. Instead, green hotels everywhere trust all natural, pesticide-free Rest Easy Bed Bug Spray to safely rid their rooms of these nasty biting parasites, once and for all.
  • Recycled Key Cards: When your hotel front desk staff hands over one of these Green Earth renew Key Cards at check in, your guests will know without a doubt that eco-consciousness is not just a slogan at your green hotel. Made from 100% recycled PVC and printed with soy-based ink, these customizable, reusable cards will last and last.

Sourcing affordable, high-quality products like these for your green hotel can sometimes seem like a wild goose chase.  But the EcoGreenHotel Store makes it easy to find, order and re-order your favorite green hotel products and services – everything from the five products listed above to bath hardware and accessories, lighting, furnishings, pool care, food service and recycling supplies, and much, much more – all in one friendly and convenient online store.

So get out your shopping list and stop by at EcoGreenHotelStore.com today.  The doors are always open, the shelves are always full of great products, and the eco-deals are always hot!

The Energy Analysis: The First Step in Saving Your Green Hotel Some Serious Green!

If you read any hospitality industry news, you’ve undoubtedly seen stories of green hotels that are saving big money by becoming more energy efficient.  You might wonder how they do it.

Indeed, hoteliers across the country are always asking us the same question: What’s the quickest, most affordable and meaningful way for our aspiring green hotel to begin reducing its negative impact on the environment while also saving money in the long run?

Our answer – Conduct an energy efficiency analysis!

An energy efficiency analysis, also known as the E2A program, is an examination and analysis of a building’s energy flow by an expert, for the purpose of identifying ways to monitor and conserve energy without negatively impacting overall productivity.  In the case of green hotels, an energy audit would allow the property to figure out, quickly and precisely, how to reduce it’s consumption without having an adverse effect on the guest experience or on the green hotel staff’s work environment.

Here’s how it works: our EcoGreenHotel team of qualified energy efficiency professionals uses a variety of specialized tools to determine exactly how much energy is being used at the property. We take things like weather, occupancy, and other factors into account to arrive at an accurate benchmark, or measurement standard, that your green hotel can use to begin tracking – and lowering – its energy consumption over time and results in savings.

We use the most trusted measurement tools and hospitality-specific resources in the industry – chiefly those developed by ENERGY STAR – to calculate the benchmark, so you can be sure it’s a valid representation of your property’s actual usage.

Our team then recommends concrete ways to reduce consumption at your green hotel – ways you may never even have thought of.  For example, after one energy efficiency analysis, we recommended that the hotel install wireless energy management guest room controls that interface with the hotel’s software to give management direct control over energy use in unoccupied rooms. The savings for a 100-room hotel?A whopping 30% of the total energy used for guest rooms!The system paid for itself in no time. Of course, the key is to find the right technology, provider and price for it to make sense.

Whether it’s implementing new policies (linen re-use, for example), upgrading electrical and HVAC systems, exploring alternate energy or looking for ways to maximize your energy purchasing power, we’ll turn you on to all the hundreds of ways you can get more bang for your energy buck.

And speaking of bucks, we’ll help you identify and apply for all the rebates, incentives, grants and other funding available to help green hotels like yours go even greener, and we’ll do it faster and more affordably than you ever dreamed was possible.

Are you ready for an energy efficiency analysis at your green hotel?  Contact an EcoGreenHotel energy efficiency professionalat info@ecogreenhotel.comtoday and let’s get started!

Why? Read our Triple Bottom Line & Eco-Efficiency article for more information.