Nationwide 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 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.