How to save on energy management

This article is part one of a three-part series on energy management. Look to Thursday’s technology news for the second part.

In the U.S., hotels spend in excess of $7.5 billion on energy each year according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This translates to an average spend of nearly $2,200 per available room each year on energy by the more than 47,000 hotels and motels in America, which in turn accounts for around 6 percent of all domestic hotel operating costs. Saving on energy costs equals a savings directly to the bottom line.

Robert Attaway, director of engineering for the Westin Buckhead Atlanta, has been continuously working on making his hotel the most efficient it can be in the past 16 years he’s been with the property. In the last five years, he has been collaborating with the hotel owners with more to keep energy consumption down. “If you waste energy, you’re wasting money,” he said. “But with increasing energy efficiency, we can actually increase guest comfort and save money.”

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Starwood Hotels and Resorts recently implemented a “30/20 by 20” program is to reduce energy use by 30 percent and cut water consumption by 20 percent by 2020 at every property. “We really think of energy efficiency by data first,” said Andrea Pinabell, vice president of sustainability at Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide. “We track energy, water and waste, and then use that data to develop a multi-faceted approach to reduce our impact.”

Starwood Hotels enabled a third-party energy and water audit in 2011 and looks for a return on investment of less than a year on energy-efficient projects and for capital projects with the lowest initial costs for the biggest impact.

The Westin Buckhead recently installed an INNCOM energy management system as part of a comprehensive strategy to support the 30/20 by 20 initiatives. The hotel has done several low-cost, high payback things to save energy, such as using LED lighting throughout the hotel, replacing the kitchen exhaust hoods that automatically senses smoke or steam to run efficiently, and only operating the ice machines at night. The hotel also has done larger ticket items as well, such as installing a water pressure system, a guestroom energy management system and an energy recovery unit, which can change the inside air temperatures by up to 50 degrees in the winter and 30 degrees in the summer months, Attaway said.

Mike Prevatte, owner of Wilmington Development, which has a Sleep Inn and MainStay Suites in Wilmington, N.C., is a strong proponent of energy management systems. Prevatte built his properties with Lodging Technologies’ energy management system in place. The extended stay MainStay Suites has an interface with its cooktops in guestrooms that will automatically turn it off if the guest leaves the room.

“Energy management products have a great ROI and with the use of cellular activity instead of wiring, you can save a lot on installation costs,” he said.

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