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“I turned on the water in the shower and waited for 10 minutes. Warm water finally started flowing, however it never lasted more than a minute and alternated mostly with cool to cold water.” That’s the exact quote extracted from an online review of a guest who rated a hotel in Pennsylvania on Tripadvisor.com. The reviewer gave the hotel a rating of two out of a possible five. The site is full of similar comments from guests complaining about how long it took them to get hot water when they wanted to take a shower or wash their hands. In the hospitality industry, when a guest turns on the hot water in their room, most wait patiently for the water to run a while to the proper temperature. Guests do not like to wait too long for their hot water according to the International Hospitality Association.
As a result of cost savings and consumer demand, the hotel industry has jumped on the green and sustainability bandwagon. Rarely do you find a hotel that still uses incandescent light bulbs, does not have some type of policy limiting how often sheets and towels are washed, or has not installed aerators or low-flow systems in faucets and showerheads. These actions not only help promote sustainability, they help improve the bottom line as well. As to consumer demand, studies continue to indicate hotel guests prefer green and sustainable hotels. Many corporations looking for lodging for their staff now make this a requirement. Recognizing this, some major hotel chains have gone as far as to have all of their properties LEED certified or to have opened entirely new properties with hypoallergenic guestrooms.
America is in the middle of a wake-up call when it comes to water usage and costs—an issue that has long-term implications for hotel properties. This past summer saw the worst drought on record in the United States since the 1950s. And this wasn’t only in California, Nevada, or Arizona, states that have often been plagued with water shortages. No, these record-breaking droughts occurred in large sections of the Midwest. In the past these areas have occasionally experienced dry years, but they rarely suffer official droughts. In fact, 60 percent of the United States was actually labeled a drought area at one time or another during the summer months of 2012. Some water experts fear that the United States may soon return to the conditions of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, when there was severe drought and dust storms.
As a global hospitality consultancy, HVS is oftentimes asked to comment on emerging technologies that are potentially applicable to hotel and resort operations—both from the perspective of hoteliers who want to learn further about opportunities for the modernization of their assets, and vendors who are keen to expand their hospitality product and service offerings. These technologies are especially prevalent in building equipment, given an expanding focus on sustainable development and operation. Regardless of the nature of the technology or whether HVS is approached by a hotelier or a vendor, our response to these sorts of inquiries is consistent: we contend there are certain common due diligence issues that are essential.
You’ve no doubt heard the term LED. And, perhaps you are even considering converting to LED lighting. Sure, you’ve heard it will drive down your energy costs and move your hotel to a “greener” future. But, why is today’s LED lighting technology really the best solution for you and your hotel? Overall, LED lighting is a more efficient product. As a hotelier, you no longer have to sacrifice quality of light. LED lighting provides the light quality needed to help transform your hotel into a home away from home. In addition, it drives down maintenance costs and reduces cooling costs to make for a more comfortable setting. While LED lighting is the best option in terms of lowering operating costs, improving environmental profile and reducing electric bills, the key to achieving effective LED lighting is smart design.
When our company first developed energy management technology back in 1992, an occupancy sensor paired with a PTAC controller capable of dynamic setback was significant. Now, 20 years later, “energy management” refers to more than just basic HVAC control. A current energy management solution can integrate with a property management system, remotely monitor every drop of power that flows into a room, produce detailed savings reports—and go completely unnoticed to the average guest. In unoccupied and unsold guestrooms, a single energy management solution can take complete control of the space. An energy management system can set back the room temperature, and disconnect lights and “energy vampires” like televisions.
Imagine a hotel recognized and supported by customers for its responsible environmental practices. A hotel where employee and customer satisfaction rankings, along with occupancy rates and margins, are consistently above average.Yes, this IS possible. All it takes is a well-managed sustainability program. Until recently, many hotel managers were content to task sustainability initiatives to employee-driven green teams; voluntary groups of enthusiasts with a personal mission to “green” operations. Using this approach, hoteliers quite often saw some successes. Real, consistent and measurable sustainability results however, require a much more strategic approach to sustainability. This level of change requires a fundamental shift in the way people think and operate throughout all levels of the organization.
It might seem a bit strange to find an article advocating green cleaning in a publication whose readers already understand the merits of cleaning and operating their facilities in a more environmentally preferable manner. This is even more true when discussing the value of green cleaning to the lodging industry, which has been at the forefront when it comes to implementing green cleaning. However, the truth of the matter is that there are still a number of negative perceptions about green products—specifically green cleaning products—that make it hard for some hotel administrators to accept them. In fact, some distributors of cleaning chemicals still report that in certain quarters, just the mention of green cleaning is enough to get the door closed in their face. One possible concern involves costs.
Was your property built before 1993? If so, chances are you’re losing money with every flush and use of the sink and shower. After all, you can’t control your hotel guest’s use of utilities. However, you can control your operating costs, and through simple, environmentally friendly renovations to plumbing and electric, you can significantly lower expensive water/sewer and electric bills. Let’s say that you have a 25-year-old, 100-room property with a 50 percent occupancy rate that hasn’t had any updates to toilets, shower heads, sink aerators or continuously operated common area lighting. A guestroom toilet is flushed 15 times a day on average, using up 52.5 gallons of water per day based on an older, 3.5 gallon-per-flush toilet. Multiply that by 365 days and by 50 rooms and that’s 958,100 gallons flushed in a year.
One of the major advantages of being a green hotel is that the reputation of the company will attract like-minded people who are interested in working for an eco-conscious employer. Even in an employment market where jobs are scarce, today’s workforce is searching for a meaningful work experience where their personal values are in alignment with their organization’s values. The ability to find and employ quality candidates that fit into the company culture can be strengthened by effectively communicating green practices during the recruitment process. A company’s reputation for social and environmental responsibility is becoming an important decision factor for job candidates. According to a survey conducted by Lightspeed Research, 80 percent of U.S. workers believe it is important to work for a company that implements green practices.
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