The Hospitality Industry Pays Attention to Energy Efficiency

December 21, 2015 By Carl Weinschenk

hotelThe varied ways in which hotels use energy offer great opportunities for relatively easy efficiency gains. Some of the big players in the sector clearly are paying attention.

There has been news on the hospitality power front lately.

Today, Hilton Worldwide said that it has become the first hospitality company to gain Superior Energy Performance (SEP) from the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE). The company gained the recognition at three lodges: The Washington Hilton, the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort and the Hilton Union Square San Francisco.

The Washington property, which will host the 2016 Better Buildings Summit, was SEP Platinum Certified. It used 15.85 percent less energy than its 20011 baseline. The Hawaii and San Francisco properties were SEP Silver Certified. They achieved 8.4 percent and 6.3 percent reductions from their 2011 baselines, respectively. Last year, the company as a whole gained was certified for ISO 50001 Energy Management.

Last week, ARIA Resort & Casino, a hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, said that it is adding 200,000 square feet of space. The $154 million project by the MGM Resorts International and World Development Corp. will be built to LEED Gold Standard, the company said. ARIA has been awarded the top Five Keys rating by the Green Key Global’s Eco-Rating Program.

MGM last year installed a 6.4 MW solar array to serve The Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, which has the potential to provide 20 percent of its energy. MGM is part of the American Business Act on Climate Pledge and has pledged to reduce its energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020. Part of that initiative will be the conversion of 1.3 million lights to LEDs.

There are a lot of energy efficiency opportunities in hotels. Last year,  Arvind Upadhyay  and Sushil Mohan – both from the Business School of the University of Brighton, UK – and U.K.-based hotel development and investment consultant Celine Vadam contributed a paper to the Production and Operations Society’s Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. “Sustainable Operations in Hotel Industry” broke down where energy is allocated in a typical hotel: 63 percent goes to room heating and hot water; 11 percent to the kitchen; 6 percent to air conditioning; 4 percent to lights, television and radio; 4 percent to laundry; 1 percent to ventilation and 11 percent to miscellaneous uses.

A detailed breakdown is provided for each category. For instance, in the heating/hot water area, there are four subcategories: Efficient building shape (whether the lodge is consolidated in one building or is comprised of several structures) has a medium implementation difficulty (obviously at the planning stage) and a medium impact on expenditures. Efficient isolation also is medium in terms of implementation difficulty and impact. In-room thermostats are high in both categories and lowering heat is low in both.

More work needs to be done, according to co-author Vadam. I don’t think that the hotel industry has been very aggressive or that addressing the problem is in the top of their list of priorities,” she told Energy Manager Today.

The job at hand is obvious, she wrote. “In order to be taken more seriously, sustainability needs data and monitoring. We need to know how much it costs to build a sustainable hotel versus a traditional one, and how much saving it implies in the medium to long term. We need to stop seeing sustainability as ‘something good for the planet’ and start seeing it as a proper business strategy if we want to involve all the stakeholders.”

More insight into possible energy savings in hotels and other types of lodges is offered in a SlideShare posted by Prudential Overall Supply. The company cites Environmental Protection Agency figures that found hotel rooms across the United States have energy costs of $2,196, or 6 percent of a hotel’s operating costs. Laundry costs per year are $7,277, though the presentation says that only 49 percent of hotels factor in these costs in their energy budgets.

The presentation suggests moving to LEDs and making ensuring that vending machines are serviced on a regular basis. It is a good idea to transition to modern vending machines, which use significantly less energy, the presentation says.

There are two dimensions in the hospitality industry: The design and construction of new lodges and the retrofit of energy-efficient products and services into existing properties.

Vadam points out that one-building lodges are inherently more efficient than those that are spread out. Once built, a number of steps can be undertaken that appear to lead to quick and significant gains.

As the Prudential SlideShare suggested, simply replacing inefficient ice making machines can lead to savings. Another step is retrofitting the in-building network to enable room heating and cooling to be individually controlled. Most rooms in a hotel are empty for long periods of time. Technology exists to lower the heat and raise the air conditioning — and in other ways control energy expenditures in vacant rooms. Leviton, for instance, offers products that address this issue.

2 comments on “The Hospitality Industry Pays Attention to Energy Efficiency

  1. Great article, glad to see Hilton taking a big step. Has anyone had any experience with Combined Heat and Power units in the hotel space? Do we know if Hilton is using this technology? Wondering if CHP would be a fit for reliable environmental energy in the industry.

Leave a reply


*