Installing Energy Efficiencies? Don't Miss Out on the Myriad of Incentives

By Marky Moore Founder, Capital Review Group | November 25, 2012

It seems that more and more hotel owners are considering energy efficiency for their properties.It is both environmentally responsible and a sensible way to reduce operating expenses, while providing the comfort your guest's require. Being environmentally responsible is as easy as using a big ceiling fan to cool rooms in your hotel rather than wasting energy with air conditioning units. As a progressive hotel owner in today's economy, you understand that creating an energy efficient property saves both long-term dollars and provides immediate impact by providing reliable performance, a more comfortable environment for guests, and significantly reduced operating costs. However, the first cost and the logistics of efficiency implementation may prove financially prohibitive.

Unfortunately, the dynamics of the evaluation and determination of efficiency systems coupled with the market difficulty in securing financing options presents a conundrum for the owner. Many hotel owners will assume that funding for energy efficient upgrades will result from dipping into the equity of the facility, or from outside funding sources such as a bank loan.

The fact is, there are numerous incentives and tax benefits available to owners of commercial properties who decide to complete energy efficient projects. One of the first considerations for funding is through rebates and grants offered through local, state municipalities and utility companies.

A great resource for the incentives available-specifically for utility rebates is through the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE). This comprehensive resource is an effective place to start researching opportunities for funding sources. DSIRE was established in 1995 and is an ongoing project of the North Carolina Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council. It is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. This broad database contains listings of commercial and residential tax deductions, tax credits, tax incentives and utility rebate programs for energy efficiency projects.

The incentives and policies included in DSIRE are reviewed frequently to ensure that the most current information is available, and each program summary is dated to indicate when it was last verified. DSIRE's comprehensive listings include information on the policy type (rebate program, tax credit or net metering); whether it is federal, state or implemented by a utility; which technologies are eligible for the program; and which sectors are eligible. In addition to summarizing the incentive or policy, the listings also contain links to the incentive or policy website, contact information, and links to relevant legal documents, authorizing statutes and regulations.

DSIRE includes information on federal incentives and policies for renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, as well as a U.S. map for locating state incentives and policies. DSIRE Solar provides information on incentives and policies specifically for solar energy projects.

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Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.