Energy Management - The Litmus Test for Your Sustainability Credentials
By Robert Allender Founder, Energy Resources Management | September 11, 2011
Do your guests care how much energy your hotel uses, the source of that energy, whether you have targets for improvement, and how you are doing against those targets? And do you care, either way?
Your answers to these questions are a reliable indicator of your position, as a hotel manager, along the spectrum we could define as "primed for profit". Sustainability profit, that is. Because whether you like it or not, sustainability issues are going to bring about a sea change in the way hotels are operated in the future. The opportunities for profiting from these changes are enormous, even though there will be challenges, too.
If your first thought is that, never mind the future, sustainability is already driving or at least significantly influencing my short term and long term business decisions, then an observation by William Gibson, originator of the term 'cyberspace', will surely resonate. He proclaimed "The future is already here. It's just not evenly distributed." And a few seconds thought will leave you convinced that that's true on many levels, and in many domains. Sustainability is just one.
Your hotel's energy management practices are a reliable litmus test for the broader topic of sustainability. Let's drill down into this one particular resource to examine how energy management fulfills this litmus test role, and how you can take advantage of that situation. (Interestingly, energy management has also been identified by more than one rigorous study as proxy for overall management excellence. These studies correlated energy management excellence to dramatically superior share price performance.)
Energy is important in all three sustainability pillars – economic, environmental, and social, or, as some like to put it, profit, planet, and people. As a hotelier you might see energy as a largely fixed cost to be battled against but eventually passed on to guests and patrons, as a major headache, or as a source of pride for the improvements you have been able to champion. Underlying all of these perceptions, however, are sustainability factors that cannot be ignored. Energy costs money, generates pollution, and impacts individuals and societies. Yet at the same time it creates wealth, provides a superhighway to a clean future, and literally empowers community development.
Nonetheless, do guests care? You may have read that, until now, at least, environmentally conscious consumers' actions do not closely follow their words. Despite saying they favor companies and products that support environmentally sound business practices, studies show that consumers will spend little if anything more for more environmentally benign services. There is no reason to doubt that this would apply to energy efficient hotels, where any dollar benefit to the guest would be very hard to identify, let alone any environmental benefit.
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