ENERGY STAR: What Can This Rating Bring to Your Hotel?

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

What is ENERGY STAR?

Just over 10 years ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy created a joint program, ENERGY STAR®. It assists businesses in tracking energy consumption and protecting the environment through energy efficient products and practices. With this energy performance system, energy managers can benchmark the energy consumption of their buildings against similar buildings nationwide. The system, which uses a scaled rating of 1-100, evaluates several factors to make building performance comparisons as accurate as possible. Included are the impact weather differences have on energy demand and consumption, the physical building spaces, and the operating characteristics of each building.

The availability of a tool that conveys the effects of behaviors on energy use enables building operators to clearly demonstrate the need to focus on certain target areas at each site. Over time, behaviors can be influenced and changed as positive impacts are demonstrated through an improved rating. ENERGY STAR provides an easy-to-understand metric of energy performance, and encourages awareness through the publishing of case studies, annual awards, and access to the ENERGY STAR label for site recognition. Using the ENERGY STAR rating system as a first step to benchmark your facilities' performance is a low-cost means to jump start an energy awareness program.

How can ENERGY STAR impact hotels?

According to ENERGY STAR, each year the hospitality industry spends over $7.5 billion on energy alone. Reducing energy consumption by just 10 percent across the industry could help reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 6 million tons. Research reveals that tactical improvements in energy efficiency can reduce energy spending by 10 to 30 percent, without forfeiting service, quality, or luxury.

The hospitality industry is well served by a common energy metric because it enables them to benchmark and track energy usage across multiple sites. Benchmarking energy use is a first step in the process of assessing energy performance and measuring ongoing progress towards established goals. Once rated, hospitality facility managers can track changes and differences at each site, letting them consider the necessary modifications to improve energy consumption. ENERGY STAR is a low-cost benchmarking tool that offers a clear-cut way to understand and communicate how a hotel's performance is measuring up to others.

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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.