Eco-Friendly Practices: Now More Than Ever


A Energyuse Strategy: Crucial to Your Hotel Surviving What Lies Ahead

Climate change, ESG, and Net Zero Megatransitions

By Robert Allender Corporate Energy Affairs Advisor, EnergyUse Strategy Advisors | May 23, 2021

A glossary at the end of this article defines the terms energy-use, corporate energy affairs, energy-use ecosystem, and energy-use strategy.

Sometimes you have to stop and take a critical look at your beliefs and mindset and decide if a change is necessary.

The board members and senior executives of publicly listed companies, and in fact all serious corporations, did this as they began coming to the conclusion that climate change, ESG (environmental, social, and governance), and net zero were three intertwined mega-transitions they had no choice but to deal with.  They knew they needed to understand the causes. 

Professional fire fighters don't aim for the flames, they aim for the source of the fire.  Once they were left with no doubt that business energy use is the number one cause of climate change by far {see chart below}, the number one criteria of ESG ratings, and the very essence of net zero, too, they knew they needed to deal with business energy use especially thoroughly. 

What should board members and senior corporate executives choose for confronting that challenge other than the one skill, the one capability they had above all others: they would formulate a strategy.  An energy-use strategy.  Not to do so would be like building their climate response strategy and their ESG strategy and their net zero strategy on sand.  In a floodplain.

In fact every corporation, every business unit, every substantial asset already has an energy-use strategy.  But until recently it was almost always unwritten and unspoken.  Now it needed to be in writing.  And not only in writing, but clearly communicated to all concerned.

It was not always immediately obvious to corporate officers that individual business units and individual operating assets – a hotel for instance – should have their own written energy-use strategy, too.  But if the energy-use eco-system of an individual operating asset  is vastly different from the energy-use eco-system of a corporate office, it is a logical conclusion.

Since it is common for a hotel to have two corporate offices to take into account – the corporate office of the brand, the operator, and the corporate office of the owner – the likelihood of there being unmatched energy-use ecosystems is doubled.

Beginning the Energy-Use Strategy Journey

If one of those corporate offices has provided a hotel with a template for formatting their asset-level energy-use strategy, a hotel's management team will follow that model.  But if not, the following template will enable any hotel management team to be front footed on the matter of energy-use, and to avail itself of all the opportunities that will open up.

1. Value Creation

The first order of business is to identify what it is that the hotel's use of energy is intended to accomplish.  In all cases that will begin with "what value is to be created".  A hotel uses energy to advance its mission.  To accomplish its purpose.  To execute its business strategy.  Although it is still common to treat energy as only a commodity, a fungible resource, the fact is that in no case is that actually true. 

A study of the layer upon layer of complexity in a hotel's energy-use eco-system will reveal dozens of breaking points with the potential to be stressed to failure, and on the flip side of those breaking points are value creation points.  A hotel's energy-use strategy needs to be specific as to how its use of energy could create more value.

2. Stakeholder Expectations

The second core element of a hotel's energy-use strategy is that of meeting the expectations of its customers, direct and indirect, its current and prospective staff, its communities, and all the other stakeholder groups it can indentify in its unique situation.  Even the corporate executives in the operator head office and the owner head office, spurred on by their need to satisfy investors, ESG rating agencies, and regulators at multiple levels, need to be treated as the hotel's stakeholders in this instance.

Direct demands from stakeholders are by far the most extensively changed aspect of a hotel's relationship with energy over the last 5 to 10 years.  In this short time period a hotel's stakeholders have reached the tipping point in their level of awareness and interest in climate change and ESG and, most recently, in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). 

These stakeholders are now at the point where their opinion of a business includes an opinion about that business's carbon emissions, and the source of those carbon emissions: its direct and indirect use of energy.  A hotel's priceless reputation is on the table.

3. Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations began gaining weight due to institutional investors, such as pension funds, wanting a better view of how their investments looked on a time horizon that matched the needs of those who would be living on the pension checks they were going to be sending out, not on the 3 month time horizon of many in the financial markets.  As long as it was only of concern to pension funds, ESG may not have been a matter that a hotel management team needed to get on top of. 

But ESG has expanded and is now a key issue for virtually everyone issuing corporate bonds,  and interfacing with investors and financial market regulators.  Since the whole consists of the sum of the parts, where a hotel is one of those parts, its senior managers need an understanding of how its use of energy feeds into the reporting requirements imposed on the corporations by the biggest investment management firms on the planet – the Blackrocks and Vanguards and State Streets of the world. 

Determining a listed company's ESG rating is heavily weighted with energy consumption and the waste products of producing that energy – greenhouse gases and urban air pollutants.  Rather than simply sending its energy consumption and carbon emissions data to the head office, a hotel with an effective energy-use strategy will take an entirely holistic view of those few simple metrics and fashion every layer of its energy-use strategy to produce the greatest overall value, not some simplistic outcome such as "five percent fewer kilowatt hours used".

4. Legal, Risk, and Compliance

The legal layer of an energy-use strategy is fed from many different sources.  The laws and regulations about a hotel's source of energy, the contracts and commitments about, for example, the fresh air ventilation rates mandated in local building regulations, and the necessity to comply with standards as diverse as the LEED green building renewal certification or the ISO standards called for in a corporate event booking contract and contracts to buy renewable energy certificates.  These were already well understood from a legal perspective, but the question to be asked is how an energy-use strategy needs to take them into account.

5. Energy Supply

Another element that could , in days gone by,  be allowed to follow common practice, rather than be consciously housed in a strategy, is that of a hotel's sources of energy.  Electricity came from the power company.  Natural gas from the gas company.  And prices were regulated.  Today, however, the sources of energy are on a path known as the energy transition.  For a hotel not to have a view of the future that imagines what that energy transition is going to do  to its business – that would leave big gaps in its business strategy, its marketing strategy, its risk management strategy, and more. 

For instance, a hotel will need to have a future view not only of the price likely to be paid in the years ahead, and whether that price is going up or down, but also what the emission factors of that chosen source of energy are going to be.  Suggestions of a carbon price of $150 a ton are already common.  Many hotels have included power purchase agreements (PPAs) and onsite generation of electricity in their energy supply strategy (yes, energy supply warrants a documented strategy, too). 

This trend is only going to grow further.  Hotels are an ideal component of what are called microgrids.  Sooner rather than later many hotel decision-makers will be choosing whether they want to be included in a microgrid or not, and these decisions are made on far more solid ground when the hotel's energy-use strategy has already been well thought out.

6. Supply Chain

Did hotels need to question the energy-use of its supply chain or its customer chain a decade back? Probably not. But just as the hotel could easily have been surprised the first time a corporate event planner asked what carbon emissions they would incur if they used that hotel for their annual sales pow wow, so now the hotel's suppliers might be surprised the first time the hotel procurement person asks what carbon emissions the hotel would incur if they bought its beef or its stock of photocopier paper from them.  But these are exactly the issues that need to be considered to collate a complete picture of all the greenhouse gas emissions in the products and services a hotel pays for so it can accomplish its business mission.

Then will come the greenhouse gas emissions customers produce, directly or indirectly, so that they can consume the hotel's goods and services.  Supplier chain and customer chain emissions added together, known as Scope 3 carbon emissions, are proving to be one of the biggest challenges of any energy taskforce brought together to formulate their organization's energy-use strategy.

A big picture of a hotel's energy-use eco-system is also going to require a discussion of the resilience and the interruptability in suppliers' and customers' energy-use eco-system.   For instance, if a supplier's access to energy is cut off, what would that do to a hotel's ability to satisfy its customers and make money.  If customers' access to energy is cut off, as happened to the US motel industry twice in the 1970s because of the OPEC Oil Crisis, business volumes can collapse. Similar situations are sure to happen again in the future.

7. Energy Consuming Equipment

A hotel's energy consuming equipment is likely to be one factor in a hotel's energy-use strategy that contains the fewest surprises.  The engineering professionals involved in the original design of the hotel, in the ongoing operation of its energy consuming equipment, and in the periodic assessment of the necessity for end of life replacement or efficiency-driven upgrades of equipment made good engineering decisions.  That said, formulation of the hotel's energy-use strategy to bring all energy-use risks and opportunities together in one place will put a different complexion on some of those considerations.

Outside forces, such as new regulations about using natural gas for heating, are a good example.  Already some states have plans to ban the use of natural gas just as in days gone by one city or state after another banned hotels and other buildings from burning coal in the interest of lung health of its citizens.  The day will come when using natural gas will be banned in the interest of the climate health of its citizens.  Will the expected lifespan of some equipment be foreshortened as a result? 

And where, in the past, the question of efficiency of equipment was strictly governed by a rather short payback threshold, soon, if not already, priority will shift from making energy efficiency choices based on equipment cost to making those decisions based on a carbon pricing and absolute carbon emissions limits.  Or, at the very least, those lines will become much more blurred.

8. Knowledge Management

Knowledge management related to energy-use varies widely in the US hotel industry.  Some hotels, encouraged by either the owning company or the operating company or the management team's own aspirations, have comprehensive practices in place.  In every situation that better energy-use skills or better transfer of energy-use knowledge would strengthen or safeguard the hotel's business strategy, the necessary resources and governance are provided without hesitation. 

At other hotels, however, even in the same competitive set, equipment upon which the hotel's ability to operate depend are run by staff who have not had a training upgrade since their first day at work.  And when they leave, their entire treasure store of knowledge goes with them.  Lack of fresh learning opportunities is not only true about technicians.  Board members at the corporate level often come to the realization that they have not studied energy-use as a topic since their high school days  Nothing about corporate energy affairs was included in their MBA curriculum.  But once long term investors began asking for a company's climate strategy and ESG strategy, board members quickly found it was necessary to bring their knowledge and skill about the foundation of both strategies up to a higher grade. Yes, that foundation is energy-use. 

At an individual hotel, it may turn out that the competence of senior management will also require some upgrading if they are to make good decisions about these matters.  Since a hotel's energy-use strategy requires the participation of leaders of departments as diverse as finance, HR, and marketing, this question of "which people need to know about their hotel's energy affairs going forward" might be quite an eye opener.

9. Communications

The communications layer of a hotel's energy-use strategy will be distinctly 'local' compared to the communications layer of the corporate offices' energy-use strategy.  The hotel's audience will include not only its customers and its staff, but also its local officials and its local community.  A hotel's communication skills will be needed to convince customers, especially corporate event buyers and Millennial and Gen Z guests, that the hotel is 'climate astute'.  Employees want to be convinced they are working for a hotel with a plan to get to net zero.  Even the hotel's pair of corporate offices will be looking to management to show they are aware of the mega-transitions' arrival.

10. Finance

As with the engineering layer, the finance layer of a hotels' energy-use strategy will have been built up over a long period of regular exercise.  Decades.  But what is new is the need to consider many more big picture items.  Are the hotel's finance decisions being made with full consideration of the risks and opportunities in play?  Will procurement decisions, capital budgeting decisions, and insurance decisions need to be adjusted once the hotel is operating with an 360 degree view of its energy-use? 

Connecting the Dots

Finally, to close the circle, a hotel's energy-use comes back to the need for a coherent strategy to connect all the dots, to tie all the threads together.  And the need for the skill to communicate this strategy effectively to all the parties involved.  Many hotels do have considerable prowess in strategy formulation, yet find this has never been applied to energy-use. 

When that high level, long time horizon document is finally in circulation, it will guide and align the actions of the hotel's senior managers, middle managers, and non-management staff alike, lead to better allocation of resources, and result in genuine and non-trivial competitive advantage.  Considering the modest amount of effort involved in its creation, it would be difficult to find a management undertaking that returned more bang for the buck.


Energy-use is a new word created to make it easy to refer to the complex and indispensible business activity that encompasses acquiring a source of energy, putting it to use, getting more value from that use, and dealing with the emissions that using energy led to.  It can be compared to other business activities like marketing and accounting.  Making use of this new term avoids confusion with the many meanings of energy such as "this hotel uses a lot of energy", "I don't have much energy this morning", and "I can feel the great energy in the room".  Energy-use is much more than energy management (and even that term suffers from confusion with management of personal energy.

Corporate energy affairs is a straightforward but previously little-used term which bundles in one place the entire array of relationships a company has with parties internal and external regarding the corporation's energy-use.  It uses the word affairs in the same way that government affairs, industry affairs, or community affairs do.  It implies these relationships are somehow being managed or at least being paid attention to.

Energy-use ecosystem is also a new term.  Like other uses of the word ecosystem in the business world, it describes a naturally occurring array of interconnecting elements including natural processes, companies, laws and regulations, and stakeholder desires and demands that a particular organisation could point to as affecting it (and probably its rivals) in any way, positively or negatively.  Not something that was created by one organization, and not something that could ever be truly managed.

With those three now understood, the fourth term, energy-use strategy, simply refers to a functional strategy, like a marketing strategy or an organizational development strategy, that takes a high-level, long-time-horizon approach to energy-use in terms of how the company is going to get to those future goals, targets, and milestones it has set itself.  Every business has an energy-use strategy, but mostly this strategy is unwritten and unspoken.  And its unwritten and unspoken rules were created and passed down by a variety of individuals in a variety of different functional areas.  These days an energy-use strategy can only be formulated by decision makers with the authority to make serious and impactful decision about matters such as investor relations, government affairs, a shadow carbon price, and green bonds.

Mr. Allender Robert Allender has been helping hotel owners and operators to drive maximum value from their hotels' use of energy since 1992. Now, as corporate boards and C-suites grasp that business energy-use is both the number one cause of climate change and the number one criteria determining ESG ratings, he works to give them the knowledge and market intelligence they need if they are to guide their company to success in today's climate-aware world. Mr. Allender's company, EnergyUse Strategy Advisors, provides executive masterclasses, energy-use strategy formulation workshops, and periodic corporate energy affairs maturity assessments to companies needing to have a robust climate plan and a competitive ESG rating. Robert Allender can be contacted at +86 85228344701 or Please visit for more information. Extended Biography

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We expect all users of our Site to take responsibility for their own actions and cannot and do not assume liability for any acts of third parties which take place at our Site. By utilizing the Good Samaritan procedures set forth herein, you waive any and all claims or remedies which you might otherwise be able to assert against hotelexecutive under any theory of law (including, but not limited to, intellectual property laws) that arise out of or relate in any way to the content at hotelexecutive or our response, or failure to respond, to a complaint.

E. Investigation/Liability Limitation

You agree that we have the right, but not the obligation, to investigate any complaint received. By reserving this right, we do not undertake any responsibility in fact to investigate complaints or to remove, edit, disable or restrict access to or the availability of Content. We will not act on complaints that we believe, in our sole discretion, to be deficient, incomplete, or otherwise questionable. If you believe that Content remains on HotelExecutive which violates your rights, Your sole and exclusive remedy shall be against the user or other party responsible for said content, not against HotelExecutive. your sole and exclusive remedy against HotelExecutive shall be to terminate your use of HotelExecutive and service.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act Compliance. As set forth in Subsection (b), you must contact our agent if you believe that a work protected by a U.S. Copyright which you own has been posted on our Site without authorization or that our Site, in some material way, contributes to its infringement. It is our policy in appropriate circumstances, if possible, to terminate the access rights of repeat infringers and other users who use HotelExecutive in an inappropriate or objectionable manner.


HotelExecutive reserves the right to fully cooperate with any law enforcement authorities or court order requesting or directing HotelExecutive to disclose the identity or other information regarding any user or member alleged by any governmental entity to be using HotelExecutive or any Content or materials available in, at, through or in association with HotelExecutive in violation of any law or regulation, or in violation of this Agreement, including, without limitation, the posting of e-mail messages, or publishing or otherwise making available any such materials. By accepting this agreement you waive and hold harmless HotelExecutive from any claims resulting from any action by HotelExecutive during, or as a result of, its investigations, and from any actions taken as a consequence of investigations by either HotelExecutive or law enforcement authorities


If any provision(s) of this Agreement is held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be contrary to law, then such provision(s) shall be construed, as nearly as possible, to reflect the intentions of the parties with the other provisions remaining in full force and effect. HotelExecutive's failure to exercise or enforce any right or provision of this Agreement shall not constitute a waiver of such right or provision unless acknowledged and agreed to by HotelExecutive in writing. The section titles in this Agreement are solely used for the convenience of the parties and have no legal or contractual significance. This Agreement may be assigned in whole or in part by HotelExecutive. This Agreement may not be assigned in any manner by you without the express, prior written permission of HotelExecutive.

Any and all disputes or controversies of any kind, including but not limited to any performance, duty, obligation or liability arising under or related to this Agreement which are not first resolved informally, shall be determined by binding arbitration in San Francisco, California, in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association. The final award in any such arbitration proceeding shall be subject to entry as a judgment by any court or competent jurisdiction, provided that such judgment does not conflict with the terms and provisions hereof. The jurisdiction of the arbiter (or arbiters) with respect to legal matters shall be limited only by the statutory and common law of the State of California and the United States.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, any and all disputes, which the parties cannot informally resolve, regarding the scope of issues or matter with the jurisdiction of the arbitrator, shall be resolved by a separate dispute resolution process whereby HotelExecutive, in its sole discretion shall elect the dispute to be resolved by either (1) a court of competent jurisdiction in the State of California or (2) a panel of three new arbitrators.

This Agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of California notwithstanding any conflict of laws provisions. You and HotelExecutive agree that the venue for all legal disputes, controversies, actions of any kind arising under or related to this Agreement shall be San Francisco, California. You and HotelExecutive further agree that in case of any litigation regarding this Agreement, you irrevocably and unconditionally (i) consent to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the state and federal courts in the County of San Francisco, California for any litigation or dispute arising out of or relating to this Agreement, (ii) agree not to commence any litigation arising out of or relating to this Agreement except in the California Courts, (iii) agree not to plead or claim that such litigation brought therein has been brought in an inconvenient forum, and (iv) agree the California Courts represent the exclusive jurisdiction for all litigation relating to this Agreement.


Hotel Business Review Subscriptions

If you choose to purchase a subscription, member subscription payments can be made in U.S. Dollars, as well as a variety of international currencies. Membership terms are Annual Recurring, and Monthly Recurring. The Annual Recurring subscription is an annual commitment and subscribers will be charged each consecutive billing cycle. Annual Recurring subscriptions can be cancelled after the first billing cycle and within 30-days of the billing date for a full refund. Monthly Recurring subscriptions are ongoing and subscribers will be charged each consecutive monthly billing cycle. Monthly Recurring subscriptions can be cancelled after the first month and within 7 days of the monthly billing cycle for a full refund.


Payment for the services provided to you in, at, through or in association with HotelExecutive may be made by automatic credit card, debit card, direct debit, bankwire or Paypal and other approved payment means offered in, at, through or in association with HotelExecutive, and you hereby authorize HotelExecutive and its agents to transact such payments on your behalf.

You hereby authorize HotelExecutive's Internet Payment Service Provider to charge your credit card to pay for your membership to HotelExecutive. You further authorize HotelExecutive's Internet Payment Service Provider to charge your credit card for any and all purchases of products, services in association with HotelExecutive. You agree to be personally liable for all charges incurred by you in association with your access or other use of any content provided by HotelExecutive or any third party in association with HotelExecutive. You acknowledge and agree that your liability for all such charges shall continue after termination of your access or any type of membership arrangement with HotelExecutive.

In the event that you have chosen to have your membership automatically rebilled, unless and until you notify HotelExecutive that you wish to cancel or terminate your membership to HotelExecutive, you hereby agree and authorize HotelExecutive's Internet Payment Service Provider to automatically renew your membership to HotelExecutive on a continuing basis and to charge your credit card (or other payment means you have selected) to pay for the ongoing cost of your membership. You hereby further authorize HotelExecutive's Internet Payment Service Provider to charge your credit card (or other approved payment means you have selected) for any and all purchases of products, services and entertainment provided to in, at, through or in association with HotelExecutive.


The following is the Privacy Policy for HotelExecutive

We can be reached via telephone, email, or online at our contact page. When you visit our site we do not log any information regarding your domain or email address. Information Sharing: We do not share user information with any third parties other than via press release distribution as described below.

Hotel Newswire is a newswire service that distributes press releases on behalf of our users. If you decide to submit a press release for distribution through our system we will transmit your entire press release including any personal information therein contained to our media contacts and online distribution points including search engines. This is the only redistribution of your information that we engage in. Your submission of press releases through our system indicates consent with this policy. The information we collect during your registration process is used to notify users about updates to our service and inform users of any special events hosted by Hotel Newswire. This information is not shared with other organizations for commercial or non-commercial purposes.

Cookies: Our system requires the use of cookies to enable the user to log back into our website to access information from the newswire, without having to log in each time using the required username and password.

If you do not want to receive email from us in the future, please let us know by following instructions included in our communication with you. Users who supply us with telephone numbers online may receive telephone contact from us regarding their account, or informing them of new products and services available on the HotelExecutive website. If you do not wish to receive such telephone calls, please edit your account and remove your phone number from your account profile. This can be done from your user account menu.

Ad Servers: We do not partner with or have any relationship with any ad server companies. From time to time, we may use customer information for new uses not previously disclosed in our privacy notice. If our information practices change at any time, we will post the policy changes to our website to notify you of these changes and provide you with the ability to opt out of these new uses. If you are concerned about how your information is used, you should check back at our website periodically.

Upon request we provide site visitors with access to all information (including proprietary information) that we maintain about them. Users can access this information by logging in to their account.

Security: We always use industry-standard encryption technologies while transferring and receiving user data exchanged with our site. We have appropriate security measures in place in our physical facilities to protect against the loss, misuse, or alteration of information that we have collected from you on our site. We do not store credit card information in our systems.

If you feel that this site is not following its stated information policy, you may contact us.

Mark Munoz
Norm Rose
Shayne Paddock
Eugenio Pirri
Renie Cavallari
Michael Kasavana
Linchi Kwok Ph.D.
Paul Feeney
Robert M. O'Halloran
Coming up in June 2021...

Sales & Marketing: Playing the Long Game

During an economic downturn, it is tempting to slash marketing budgets to make up for lost revenue. But smart hoteliers play the long game, knowing that companies who stay engaged with their customers will be the first to benefit from a rebound. Therefore, now is the time to renew and revamp sales and marketing strategies in order to be ready for what lies ahead. For example, this is a perfect time to refresh website content, social media and SEO.  The same for hotel blogs where content can be updated to give customers inspirational ideas as they begin to travel and meet again. Multimedia assets should also be revised with new photo/video shoots that provide accurate information about how setups, room configurations, and onsite offerings have changed to accommodate safer meetings and social distancing. The June Hotel Business Review will focus on the sales and marketing strategies that some hotels are adopting in anticipation of a recovery in 2021.