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The HITEC Polar Bear in the Shower Story

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I attended HITEC this week in Houston. There was just one sustainability-focused educational session and I attended it—Saving Energy While Others Pay the Bill: Sustainability and CSR. One of the most interesting stories told during the session was by Lyle Worthington, CIO at The Student Hotel in The Netherlands. The company with 11 hotels throughout Europe partnered with Wageningen University in The Netherlands on a shower experiment at one of The Student Hotels. Worthington discovered, not surprisingly, that students staying at the hotel shower 17 percent longer at the hotel compared to what is typical in a home environment.

The goal of the experiment was to discover if The Student Hotel can motivate guests (mostly students) to use less water and energy. An Amphiro Device that shows temperature and water consumption was connected to the shower. On the device there was an animated image of a polar bear atop a glacier. As the shower ran and time went on, the glacier began to disintegrate below the polar bear until the bear drowned. Because of the short-term experiment, The Student Hotel saw a 17 percent to 20 percent decrease in the length of the showers taken. Even 10 months later, long after the device was removed, shower duration was still 10 percent shorter. “Putting the actual consumption in front of them had a real impact,” Worthington said. You can bet the image of the drowning polar bear most certainly helped. That is not something I would forget for a long time.

I have seen various similar shower water consumption devices introduced over the years. Would you ever use one at your property? Even if the animation was lightened up a bit? I would love to know your thoughts. I can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

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