Plan Your Way Toward Low-Tech Energy Savings

By Steve Kiesner Director of National Accounts, Edison Electric Institute | May 04, 2010

A business buzzword at the moment is sustainability-or operating with concern for the planet's natural resources, so that future generations will be able to meet their needs. As interest in sustainability grows, so too does the importance of using energy more efficiently. Getting more use from every dollar you spend on energy will help to lower the nation's greenhouse gas emissions and improve its air quality. It will, of course, also create significant opportunity for saving money.

In the hotel industry, energy typically accounts for three to five percent of total operating expenses. By becoming more energy efficient, you can lower your operating costs, which will create money to spend on guest amenities, on staff salaries, or on other vital areas.

Too often, though, the goal of becoming more energy efficient is seen as something that can only be reached through large capital expenditures. But in reality, there are many no- and low-cost steps that your company can start taking today to use its energy more wisely. And in doing so, you can lower your energy bill by 10 percent or more. Spending more to save more is always a good idea, but you do not have to put off becoming more energy efficient.

To realize what I call these low-tech energy savings, you need to follow three simple steps:

To get started and organized for success, you must build a team. Ideally, the team should be a task force of several people from various departments within the organization. Key groups are housekeeping and the kitchen staff. Little things they can do, such as resetting thermostats and closing drapes, or turning off lights and appliances that are not needed-will add up to make a big difference in energy costs.

Pull the team together for a planning session and start laying the groundwork. The easiest and least expensive way to identify and evaluate where to start making energy-saving improvements is by having your team conduct a 'walk-through' energy audit. You can find significant energy-saving opportunities this way. The decisions your employees make regarding lighting, heating and cooling, and other appliance use have a major effect on how energy is used in your hotel. The walk-through audit pays particular attention to identifying habits and procedures that can be adopted to use energy more efficiently.

Coming up in March 2018...

Human Resources: Value Creation

Businesses must evolve to stay competitive and this is also true of employment positions within those organizations. In the hotel industry, for example, the role that HR professionals perform continues to broaden and expand. Today, they are generally responsible for five key areas - government compliance; payroll and benefits; employee acquisition and retention; training and development; and organizational structure and culture. In this enlarged capacity, HR professionals are no longer seen as part of an administrative cost center, but rather as a member of the leadership team that creates strategic value within their organization. HR professionals help to define company policies and plans; enact and enforce systems of accountability; and utilize definable metrics to measure and justify outcomes. Of course, there are always new issues for HR professionals to address. Though seemingly safe for the moment, will the Affordable Care Act ultimately be repealed and replaced and, if so, what will the ramifications be? There are issues pertaining to Millennials in the workforce and women in leadership roles, as well as determining the appropriate use of social media within the organization. There are new onboarding processes and e-learning training platforms to evaluate, in addition to keeping abreast of political issues like the minimum wage hike movement, or the re-evaluation of overtime rules. Finally, there are genuine immigration and deportation issues that affect HR professionals, especially if they are located in Dreamer Cities, or employ a workforce that could be adversely impacted by federal government policies. The March Hotel Business Review will take a look at some of the issues, strategies and techniques that HR professionals are employing to create and sustain value in their organization.