Smarter Stays

Smarter Stays

Powering the leisure sector is expensive, but with a little strategy, hotels can decrease energy expenses.

The hotel and leisure sector uses vast amounts of energy and with that usage comes huge opportunities for carbon reductions, but the task of reducing energy consumption in hotels goes beyond just recycling and reusing.

Sustainable Energy Ireland has identified the hotels and restaurants sector as one of the two sub-sectors with the most potential for energy efficiency improvements.

While the 24/7 nature of hotels makes achieving energy savings a constant challenge, there are a number of active measures the hospitality sector can take to reduce energy costs, with hidden or radical technologies, such as smart LED lighting and intelligent heating, now playing key roles in energy conservation.

“Inflating energy costs can be eased, or even eliminated, by making energy efficiency a core element of management practice,” says Sustainable Energy Ireland’s guide for hotels. “Doing so can also lead to sustainable competitive advantage.”

O’Hanlon adds that energy is one of the easiest expenditures for hotels to manage and many hotels can even reduce their energy costs by up to 20% without significant investment.

“Hotels that improve their operating efficiencies will enjoy competitive advantage”

Sustainable Energy Ireland

According to the Carbon Trust, heating (which can account for 60% of total energy costs), lighting (accounting, on average, for 25% of an organisation’s electricity costs) and energy management are three areas the hospitality sector should focus on in their efforts to reduce energy consumption.

Costs can be reduced by maintaining appropriate temperatures and ensuring heating equipment and controls are managed correctly. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) advises that heating costs increase by approximately 8% for each degree Celsius of overheating, and recommends using a digital thermometer to make sure that temperature set points are correct.

Hotels should ensure their systems are operating only during those hours when staff and customers really need heating, cooling and ventilation. Installing a smart controls system – particularly in guest rooms which are often unoccupied – can also help energy efficiency without affecting staff and customer comfort.

Checklist: energy-saving tips

You can save lighting costs by up to 50% by implementing lighting controls and efficient luminaires, according to the Carbon Trust estimates.

Maximise light output by regularly cleaning lamps, reflectors and covers, SEAI suggests. The Carbon Trust advises on a ‘switch off’ policy. suggests hotels, particularly those that have heating and pumping systems from pre-smoking-ban days, address the building’s pump and fan inefficiency.

Service boilers annually. A poorly maintained boiler can often use 10% more energy than necessary and may also be less reliable. encourages hotels to switch to LED lighting, which not only offers energy savings but also provides significantly better clarity and definition for CCTV monitoring and security.

Hotels should consider operating a combined heat and power plant, especially those with high and constant heat demands throughout the year – such as those with swimming pools – says the Carbon Trust.

Reduce energy loss by using pool covers and turning off heating in saunas and steam rooms – the electric heating in these facilities is expensive to run.

Occupancy sensors and daylight sensors also help reduce lighting costs.

Avoid wasting hot water using measures such as tap controls, spray taps and water-efficient showerheads, and urinal flush controls.

Greener rooms: more guests

Being energy efficient can also enhance a business's reputation and help to attract more customers.

“Those hotels that improve their operating efficiencies and succeed in reducing their operating costs will enjoy competitive advantage,” says Sustainable Energy Ireland.

However, hotels are often faced with the challenge of limited funds and time, and the array of energy-saving equipment available can be daunting.

The Green Hospitality Programme teaches businesses to reduce energy, water and waste costs. Businesses that engage with the programme have saved from €5,000 to over €100,000 per annum in reduced costs.

Leading the charge: hotels with sustainable ideas

The Woodlands House Hotel in Adare, Co Limerick – winner of the Energy Management award in Green Hospitality’s Responsible Travel & Tourism Awards 2015 – has invested in a combined heat and power plant, solar thermal plates, high-efficiency boilers and LED lighting.

The Woodlands House Hotel has been backed by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland to carry out energy-reducing projects, and aims to reinvest the savings made into improving the hotel’s overall efficiency and eco-friendliness.

Hotel Doolin in Co Clare was a runner-up in the Environmental Management category of Ibec’s Environment Awards in 2015/16, with the hotel’s staff – who all have a role to play in the hotel’s green hospitality programme – praised for their environmental commitment.

Since implementing the programme, Hotel Doolin has introduced a free charge point for electric cars, a no-disposable-cup policy for staff, cut back the use of paper receipts and began collecting rainwater. The hotel has also introduced some ducks and hens to the garden and grows its own vegetables and herbs.

Bush Hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim, was the first hotel in Ireland to receive the EU Ecolabel for Tourist Accommodations in recognition of its commitment to sustainable tourism and protection of the local environment. Despite being over 200 years old, this hotel is serious about eco-friendly tourism and has taken a number of steps to reduce its carbon footprint. The hotel’s policy is to “minimize the harmful effects and maximize the beneficial effects of our activities on our environment”.

Bush Hotel aims to be a zero-waste hotel and does not accept pallets, shrink wrap, bubble wraps or polystyrene: all deliveries now come in returnable and reusable plastic crates and all excess packaging is removed by suppliers.



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