Why Energy Efficiency is More Important Than Ever
By James Gieselman Principal, Servidyne | May 07, 2017
The generally accepted definition of sustainable operations is our using of resources such that we meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Certainly energy is chief among those resources that we are encouraged to use sustainably.
In an article by Climate Progress, Why Energy Efficiency Is The Most Important Fuel We Didn't Know We Had (Sept, 2014), the author begins by pointing out that "energy efficiency has graduated from the 'hidden fuel' to the 'first fuel.'" His meaning should be clear: while energy efficiency has played an important role in the past, its value to society has been severely under-appreciated. Its importance has been underestimated as well.
An earlier McKinsey report notes that through energy efficiency improvements alone the United States could meet its commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17% by the year 2020. Energy efficiency, then, should be regarded as a primary vehicle on the road toward sustainability.
Step up to the Plate
How does one begin the quest for energy efficiency? The very first step is to determine how far behind the efficiency curve your property really is. (You may discover that you're actually ahead of the pack.) The best metric for determining where you stand is your hotel's energy use intensity (EUI). This is simply a measure of how much total energy your property used per square foot over the course of a year. The units in the United States are kBtu per square foot per year; overseas it is typically kWh per square meter per year. The U.S. EPA estimates that the median EUI for domestic hotels is 187 kBtu/sf/yr.
Obviously there is much built into this number: location, property size, hotel type, laundry on site, indoor pool, etc. All of these variables have an effect on energy consumption, so using only this metric absent any qualifiers isn't optimum. Rather, using a tool like the EPA's Energy Star Portfolio Manager will take into consideration those parameters and others to measure your energy consumption on an equal footing with other hotels. Today over 10,000 hotels use Portfolio Manager's benchmarking function.
The Hotel Business Review articles are free to read on a weekly basis, but you must purchase a subscription to access
our library archives. We have more than 5000 best practice articles on hotel management and operations, so our
knowledge bank is an excellent investment! Subscribe today and access the articles in our archives.