No Cost, Low Cost Energy Conservation

By Jim Poad Director of Client Solutions, Advantage IQ | August 03, 2010

For businesses that have put a freeze on spending, the idea of taking action to reduce energy consumption may seem impossible. What many are unaware of are all the options for energy conservation that cost nothing, or very little. There are many opportunities for no cost, low cost, energy conservation measures (ECMs) that are effective in cutting consumption and adding to a business' bottom line. All that is required to put these ECMs into action is close observation of facility operations, and small changes to daily operations.

Energy Conservation Measures Explained

An ECM or Energy Conservation Measure is an action that reduces energy consumption or power demand. ECMs are the building blocks of any business' green initiatives and are the most cost effective way to reduce consumption and "go green". They can come with no cost, a small expense, or a more significant investment. The price tag depends on the magnitude of the action taken to conserve energy and reduce its waste. The simple payback from an ECM can be immediate; you might even see a difference in the next energy bill. To develop an energy conservation game plan, it's vital to begin with solid data which will help you create an accurate energy profile of your facilities. This data or facility profile allows you to determine how and where to focus your energy conservation efforts. Developing an energy program that is right for your facilities requires a few basic steps to ensure it is off on the right track.

  • Complete an initial energy performance analysis, which compares energy consumption data across every facility in the portfolio. It is wise to normalized for variables like average temperature, square footage, hours of operation and so on. Comparing normalized data will reveal trouble spots and help you to focus your efforts.

  • Closely assess facility equipment and operations. Facility managers should be checking to see that equipment is functioning properly and that it is being used as efficiently as possible.

  • Inform facility staff and all employees of their individual impact on energy costs. This can be accomplished by disseminating energy conservation information electronically throughout your organization or through poster campaigns. When employees and facility staff are educated about the impact of their activities and how simple changes in their behavior can significantly improve their company's bottom line, the savings can mount quickly.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.