WASHINGTON, D.C.—What do HEI Hotels & Resorts, InterContinental Hotels Group, MGM Resorts International, Wyndham Worldwide, and Hilton Worldwide have in common? They are all participants in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge, a program that had its hard launch three years ago last month (December 2011). As part of the Challenge, each of the hotel companies has made a commitment to assess their building portfolio to determine energy efficiency opportunities and publicly pledge to improve the energy intensity of their building portfolio by at least 20 percent over 10 years. Challenge Partners also have pledged to announce and initiate a showcase project on one of their facilities and provide an implementation model outlining the process followed and specific tools, documents, and steps employed to realize their energy savings goal. Participants also pledge to share their experiences with energy efficiency solutions, organization-wide energy savings, and the energy performance at individual facilities as the basis for recognition.
The five major lodging industry participants comprise 16 percent of the commercial group participating in the Better Buildings Challenge, an initiative that had its soft launch in June 2011. Maria Vargas, Better Buildings Challenge Director, says the key to the success of the Challenge is organizations actually sharing best practices and success stories with their peers.
“We are thrilled to have the five hotel companies as partners in the challenge,” Vargas says. “They represent different kinds of hospitality organizations.” Vargas adds that she would like to see a smaller, regional chain participate to add diversity to the types of companies participating in the Challenge.
Leading Hotels Showcased
The Wyndham Philadelphia Mount-Laurel is one of the Better Building Challenge’s Showcase Projects. The case study details how the 245-room property was able to reduce its annual energy use by 27 percent and annual energy costs by $34,000 from 2011 to 2013. The improvements were primarily due to a 756kW solar photovoltaic system but steps also included a kitchen lighting retrofit and installation of HVAC occupancy sensors throughout the property.
For Challenge Partners the U.S. Department of Energy offers technical assistance, connections with a network of Allies that can help Partners achieve energy saving goals, and national recognition for achieving energy and cost savings. There is a monthly webinar series during which “barrier busting” strategies are shared, and this May 27 to 29 a Better Buildings Summit will be held in Washington, D.C. Vargas says the U.S. Department of Energy is planning to set up an online Solution Center in 2015.
Vargas says organizations often face a range of barriers to achieving greater degrees of energy efficiency—barriers ranging from lack of senior management buy-in to financial struggles to certification challenges. A goal of the Better Buildings Challenge is to help remove the barriers to energy saving success.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.