Friday, June 22, 2012

Waste Wise Saving tips

"Over 80% of ‘waste’ generated in hotels is potentially recyclable, reusable or compostable"

Being Waste Wise can enable hotels to reduce costs through:

  1. Increased awareness of how waste is being generated, handled and disposed 
  2. Making conscious purchasing decisions to avoid creating waste in the first place 
  3. Reducing the amount of waste that would normally sent to landfill by avoiding, reducing, reusing and recycling 
  4. Making more effective use of materials and contractors
All of a hotel’s day-to-day operations generate waste of various kinds. The following tips will help you to identify the areas where you can avoid, reduce, reuse and recycle waste – and save your hotel money. More importantly, start monitorising and build a data base where weaknesses, opportunities and benefits are acknolodges for a later action plan.

  • Plan for additional pickups of waste and recycling during busy periods, and ensure that collection costs are factored in to annual budgets. 
  • If space permits, have at least 20% additional bin capacity on the premises to cope with any missed pickups – which occasionally happen, no matter how reliable your contractors are. This will minimise the likelihood of recyclables going to landfill due to lack of recycling bin capacity on site. 
  • Construction and refurbishment projects within hotels can be significant sources of waste; ensure that contractors performing this work manage the resulting waste responsibly, preferably by arranging for its reuse or recycling, and that construction and demolition waste is kept separate from the hotel’s normal recycling and general waste. 
  • When undertaking refurbishments, evaluate the effectiveness of current waste and recycling storage areas in terms of space and accessibility.

  • Purchase cleaning products in concentrated forms, or look at reusable microfibre products. 
  • Purchase products containing recycled content. 
  • Purchase carpet that is recyclable and floor coverings that have been made from recycled materials.
  • Give preference to purchasing products with minimal packaging.
  • Purchase fresh food in reuseable crates and containers that can be recycled like cardboard or paper instead of plastics. 
  • Engage key suppliers about their commitment to working with you to reduce waste by taking back their plastic containers, crates, polystyrene boxes, for reuse. 
  • If your recycling company will not collect plastic drums and large detergent and chemical containers, either reuse them or return them to your suppliers, most of which will collect, wash and refill them. 
  • Ensure that perishable products are placed in storage as soon as possible after delivery. Spoilage not only wastes money in terms of unused products, but also in waste disposal costs. 
  • Reuse or recycle empty cardboard boxes.
  • Assign one person to call the trash collector for special pickups.
  • Share newspaper and magazine subscriptions among several people. Purchase newspapers based on occupancy. Provide newspapers on request only.

  • Let event attendees know of the hotel’s commitment to being Waste Wise and to assist by keeping recyclables like paper, cardboard separate from other materials. 
  • Collect leftover food for recycling.
  • Where paper bags and serviettes are used in catering, use recycled and unbleached products (which avoid the use of polluting chlorine in bleaching) to save resources and help build the demand for recycled products. 
  • Aim to provide a range of recycling bins (well signed) to enable conference guests assist you with waste sorting and recycling.
  • Provide meeting attendees with a place to drop off their name badges after an event. Reuse the badge holders.
  • Provide water at meetings to guests in pitchers, not plastic bottles.

  • Implement recycling collection for newspapers, magazines, telephone books, brochures, empty drink containers, cardboard packaging, and paper shopping bags. 
  • Investigate refillable containers for bathroom amenities, which can reduce waste significantly by cutting down on the use of single use items. 
  • Allow the toilet roll to be completely used prior to replacing it. Or, use half-used rolls in staff toilets. Purchase toilet paper rolls that are “coreless.”
  • Where single use items are provided, donate these to charities.
  •  Install hand dryers in public restrooms to minimize paper consumption.
  • Eliminate plastic or paper wrapping on drinking glasses in guestrooms.
  • Use worn towels and linens as cleaning rags.
  • Reuse robes as cleaning towels.
  • If individual amenities are used, be sure the plastic is recycled.

  • Purchase office paper and supplies containing recycled content. 
  • Purchase computers from companies that take computers back for recycling.
  • Use e-mail for distribution of meeting minutes and nightly reports. 
  • Limit the number of computers with printer access, so documents are only printed when necessary. 
  • Print internal documents using printer draft option to reduce ink consumption. 
  • Use both sides of paper when making copies.
  • Implement paper recycling in offices, and if space permits give each desk-based staff member their own small recycling bin. 
  • Recycle printer cartridges by returning to supplier or Cartridges for Planet Ark. 
  • Reuse scrap paper by binding it and cutting into note pads for use by staff. 
  • Reuse copy paper boxes for file storage. 
  • Reuse manila folders and other office supplies eg paper clips, rubber bands. 
  • Remove general waste bins from individual desks and replace with individual paper bins – set up commingled recycling bin and general waste bins in kitchen or staff tea rooms.
  • Use rechargeable batteries instead of disposable batteries where possible.

  • Use cloth napkins, placement and tablecloths.
  • Implement systems for recycling glass, metal and plastic containers (most recycling companies offer a ‘commingled’ recycling service where these materials can all be combined in the same bin for convenience of disposal). 
  • Implement a system for recycling cardboard.
  • Crush cans and bottles. 
  • Reuse large plastic drums, or send them back to suppliers for reuse. 
  • Set up a system for recycling corks. 
  •  Eliminate fried foods where possible to minimize the amount of grease that needs to be sent to a landfill. What grease your food and beverage operation does produce can be converted to biodiesel fuel.
  • Investigate if your local council collects oil drums or vegetable oils.
  • Avoid the use of Styrofoam or paper cups. Use ceramic mugs instead.
  • Use reusable plates, glasses and tableware in the restaurant and the employee cafeteria.
  • Laminate restaurant menus so that they will last longer.
  • Use reusable containers for storing food instead of plastic wrap.
  • Use reusable coasters instead of napkins in the restaurant and bar.

  • Spa/Fitness centre – paper cups, office paper, newspapers, magazines 
  • Business centre – office paper, newspapers, magazines (set up recycling systems) 
  • Lobby area – newspapers, magazines, old flowers (papers on request) 
  • Car park – newspapers, drink containers (recycle bins) 
  • Garden – cuttings, grass clippings (composting/greenwaste collection). Compost food scraps and coffee grounds. Start a worm farm to consume the waste. 
  • You could also setup recycling systems for those areas or avoid purchasings (Plastic cups)
  • All areas - buy recycled paper goods with a high percentage of post-consumer content for use in guestrooms, kitchen, housekeeping and other areas of the hotel. If possible, purchase goods that are easily biodegradable.
  • All areas - use reusable LED candles to reduce candle waste.
  • Install washable furnace and air-conditioner filters.

  • When refurbishing, talk to architects about building in improved waste management and energy efficiency measures. 
  • Ensure construction, demolition and refurbishment contractors have systems in place for ensuring waste materials (wood, metal, concrete) are reused wherever possible, and/or recycled off site. 
  • Refinish furniture. 
  • Furniture, fittings and used linen can all be reused either by donating them to staff or to charities that will send them on to homeless or underprivileged people. 
  • When possible, reuse material from demolished buildings in new construction--bricks and mortar, for example, can be recycled.

  • Encourage guests to take used soap bars home. Tons of used soap bars are discarded by hotels around the world every day. 
  • Donate used items such as sheets and furniture to the local community. Also Investigate donating excess food to a charity organisation. There are several which collect food of good quality that has not been served to the public. 
  • Educate staff and reward them for recycling accomplishments. Educate guests as well. 
  • Encourage your suppliers to use less waste. Buy only from those that do so. 
  • Encourage vendors to offer products with minimal packaging. 

  • Monitor waste volume each month to track progress. 
  • Monitor trash in dumpsters to make sure recyclables are not being sent to the landfill. 
  • Participate in WasteWise programs held in your area.

Source: Adapted from Green Lodging
          The City of Melbourne Waste Management ToolKit

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Greenwashing (or green marketing) is used to promote the perception that an organization's aims and policies are environmentally friendly, when in reality, they're not. Whether it is to increase profits or gain political support, greenwashing may be used to manipulate popular opinion and trick consumers to support products and services otherwise questionable.

For example... in the lodging industry, a hotel chain that calls itself “green” because it allows guests to choose to sleep on the same sheets and reuse towels, but actually does very little to save water, energy and resources where it counts — on its grounds, with its appliances and lighting, in its kitchens, and with its vehicle fleet.

Websites such as he Green Washing Index and Stop Greenwash, aim to  educate consumers about how to “read” an ad and encourage them to decide for themselves if what they’re seeing is greenwashing. Their purpose is that with a better-informed public, businesses will start to:
  • Have a sustainable business before they advertise they’re a sustainable business. 
  • Be accountable for the sustainable practices they claim to have
That way we can put an end to the greenwashing and get busy with real environmental change.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Is Solar worthwhile in Australia?

It’s not exactly helpful to the renewable energy cause when government initiatives like the Solar Flagships program (large-scale government sponsor solar plants) run into trouble.

Big solar projects should work in a country with abundant sunshine, but when they can’t find someone to buy the electricity they would produce, known as power purchase agreements, then they can’t get funding to make them viable.
(Solar intensity map in Australia)

While the government thinks about what to do next to get big solar projects going, perhaps they should look around for some alternatives.

In fact, the $1.5 billion Solar Flagships program would get a far better return if the funding were spent on rooftop solar.

Just image the $1.5 billion were given to public hospitals in Australia to fund solar energy for them. There are around 750 public hospitals in Australia – so the funding would mean $2 million each.

For that, at current market prices, each hospital could install solar on its rooftop which would have a generating capacity of around 700kW and yield approximately 980,000kWh of energy a year, depending on location.

On a conservative estimate, one could assume that average electricity cost per hospital would be about 15 cents a kWh and so the new solar systems, which generate electricity for free once installed, would save around $147,000 a year for each hospital.

For the total 750 hospitals, they would be generating 735GWh of energy and saving over $110 million a year in energy costs.

At times of hospitals struggling to meet ends, you’d like to think the hospitals would be quite grateful to be given a route to cost saving rather than the next band-aid solution.

Also, at the risk of stating the obvious, the underlying reason for installing solar is that is a healthier alternative to carbon fired power.

The energy-saving program on hospital rooftops, in replacing traditional power, would lead to over 700,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emission reductions, on the basis of 1kg saved per 1kWh of renewable electricity generated.

These calculations aren’t rocket science but just a reflection of what is happening in energy markets today, where the cost of solar is coming down while traditional coal-fired power is going up.

Over the past few years, the cost of solar panels has been plummeting as their key ingredient, silicon, has fallen in price from $450/kg in 2008 to just above $25/kg today. The reasons include:

The contrast in traditional electricity cost is becoming just as startling. Average energy bills in NSW now show a cost of electricity between 20 and 30 cents a kilowatt hour, reaching 43 cents at peak, while solar energy costs between 5 and 7 cents a kilowatt hour to produce over its lifetime.

Pricing of electricity in NSW is governed by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal which approved a 17.6 per cent lift in prices for 2011 and is tipped to allow a 20 per cent increase for 2012, meaning the differential with solar is set to widen further.

The gap between cost of solar and traditional power is getting greater in retail markets but it is tight in the wholesale markets where the Solar Flagships projects would operate.

These large-scale solar projects would be selling electricity at around 6 cents a kWh into the national electricity market, which is why they have been struggling with their funding equations.

If you install solar on a rooftop and offset consumption, as opposed to selling into the wholesale market, you are likely to get a much better return, in the area of four times greater.

The reason all this is important sometimes gets lost.

Australia still actually has targets for the reduction of greenhouse gases, which is for them to be 80 per cent below 2000 levels by 2050. Two independent researchers have reached strong conclusions about this in recent times.

Last November in his Quarterly Essay, Andrew Charlton pointed out that Australia would need to increase clean energy facilities tenfold by 2020 if it is to meet its target of reducing carbon emissions by 5 per cent for that timeline.

Just recently, the Grattan Institute released its paper about Australia’s energy future and concluded that government has no choice but to foster the adoption of renewable energy if the country is to meet renewable energy targets.

How government should help will be the subject of a future Grattan Institute paper, but in the meantime, there does appear to be a more economical solution to the Solar Flagships dilemma now facing the government.

Being one of the greatest energy-intensive-industry, the lodging industry has now the opportunity to invest in clean energy. In a country such as Australia, where sunlight is abundant, Hotels, Resorts, Bed & breakfasts, hostels (and so on...) could be mainly powered by this source, saving on electricity bills and in some cases even making money by selling your extra power!

Source: adapted from Renew Economy 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Environmental Management Systems (EMS)

An Environment Management System (EMS) is a tool for managing the impacts of an organisation's activities on the environment. It provides a structured approach to planning and implementing environment protection measures.
An EMS monitors environmental performance, similar to the way a financial management system monitors expenditure and income and enables regular checks of a company's financial performance. An EMS integrates environmental management into a company's daily operations, long term planning and other quality management systems.

To develop an EMS, an organisation has to assess its environmental impacts, set targets to reduce these impacts, and plan how to achieve the targets.The most important component of an EMS is organisational commitment. For an effective EMS to be developed and implemented, you need commitment from the very top of the organisation, as well as all staff. Following are more examples of components that should be considered when developing an EMS.

Environmental Policy: this is a statement of what an organisation intends to achieve from an EMS. It ensures all environmental activities are consistent with the organisation's objectives.

Environmental Impact Identification: identification and documentation of the actual and potential environmental impacts of an organisation's operations need to be undertaken. This can be achieved through undertaking an environmental audit.

Objectives and Targets: an environmental audit forms the basis of determining an organisation's environmental objectives and targets. An organisation can find benefits in adopting more stringent longer term objectives to encourage it to improve its performance. To continually improve, targets should be regularly reviewed.

Consultation: staff and community consultation should be undertaken before, during and after establishment of an EMS. This is necessary to ensure that all staff are involved in, and committed to the EMS. It can also help to improve public perception of the company, one of the benefits of implementing an EMS.

Operational and Emergency Procedures: all procedures should be reviewed to ensure they are compatible with the organisation's environmental objectives and targets. Any changes should be included with the documentation.

Environmental Management Plan: this details the methods and procedures which an organisation will use to meet its objectives and targets.

Documentation: all objectives, targets, policies, responsibilities and procedures should be documented along with information on environmental performance. Documentation is useful for verifying environmental performance to staff, regulators and the community.

Responsibilities and Reporting Structure: responsibilities need to be allocated to staff and management to ensure the EMS is implemented effectively.

Training: staff should undergo environmental awareness training to familiarise them with their responsibilities for implementing the EMS and with the overall environmental policy and objectives of the organisation. This provides staff with the necessary skill and motivation for the effective implementation of the EMS.

Review Audits and Monitoring Compliance: review audits should be undertaken regularly to ensure the EMS is achieving its objectives and to refine operational procedures to meet this goal. In order to ensure regulatory and other requirements are being met, it is often necessary to undertake regular environmental monitoring.

Continual Improvement: an important component is continual improvement. An EMS comes into its best use when used to review progress towards the targets and objectives set by a company to protect the environment. The procedures set in place to meet these objectives should be constantly examined to see if they can be improved or if more effective systems can be introduced.

An EMS can assist a company in the following ways:
  • minimise environmental liabilities;
  • maximize the efficient use of resources;
  • reduce waste;
  • demonstrate a good corporate image;
  • build awareness of environmental concern among employees;
  • gain a better understanding of the environmental impacts of business activities; and
  • increase profit, improving environmental performance, through more efficient operations.
An EMS can be a powerful tool for organisations to both improve their environmental performance, and enhance their business efficiency. An EMS is not prescriptive, rather, it requires organisations to take an active role in examining their practices, and then determining how their impacts should best be managed. This approach encourages creative and relevant solutions from the organisation itself.

Although the implementation of an EMS is essentially a voluntary initiative, it can also become an effective tool for governments to protect the environment as it can assist regulation. For example, regulatory systems can encourage organisations to use EMS to meet standards, by providing incentives for strong environmental performance.

Likewise, organisations can use EMS to ensure that their performance is within regulatory requirements, and to keep ahead of more stringent regulations which might be introduced in the future.

The ISO 14000 series, currently being developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), is a collection of voluntary standards that assists organisations to achieve environmental and financial gains through the implementation of effective environmental management. The standards provide both a model for streamlining environmental management, and guidelines to ensure environmental issues are considered within decision making practices.

ISO 14001 is the standard for Environment Management Systems. Many large businesses (some in the lodging industry), particularly overseas, have obtained certification under the standard.

The benefits of having ISO 14001 certification are mainly realised by large organisations, as Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have a smaller turnover and thus a correspondingly small return on the costs of certification.

Although a fully certified ISO EMS may not be suitable for smaller organisations, it does provide guidelines that assist organisations to consider all the relevant issues, and thus gain the most benefit from their EMS, even without certification. SMEs can therefore use ISO 14001 as a model for designing their own EMS.

However, larger organisations may find certification more valuable when considering the potential trade and market advantages of an internationally recognised and certified EMS. This was a significant factor for companies seeking certification under the ISO 9000 quality assurance standards, and is likely to be a factor in decisions regarding ISO 14001 certification.

The Standards Australia web site provides further information about Standards in Australia. The ISO 14000 series has been adopted in Australia and New Zealand as the AS/NZS ISO 14000 series.

          Chan E.S.W., Wong S.C.K. (2006), Motivations for ISO 14001 in the hotel industry. Tourism Management 27(3), 481-492. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Accor's PLANET 21

With PLANET 21, Accor group has made 21 commitments in favour of sustainable development. 
Intrinsically linked to sustainable development, the name PLANET 21 refers to Agenda 21, the action plan adopted by 173 Heads of State at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It also echoes the urgent need to focus efforts in the 21st century to change our production and consumption patterns with the goal of protecting our planet, its people and their environment.

The 21 commitments are the following:

  • Ensure healthy interiors
  • Promote responsable eating
  • Prevent deseases
  • Reduce water use
  • Expand waste recycling
  • Protect biodiversity
  • Reduce energy use
  • Reduce CO2 emissions
  • Increase use of renewable energy
  • Encourage eco-design
  • Promote sustainable building
  • Introduce sustainable offers and technologies
  • Protect children from abuse
  • Support responsable purchasing practices
  • Protect ecosystems
  • Support employee growth and skills
  • Make diversity an asset
  • Improve quality of work/life
  • Conduct business openly and transparently
  • Engage franshise and managed hotels
  • Share commitment with suppliers

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Standardised approach to carbon measurement is launched

The International Tourism Partnership (ITP) and the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), in collaboration with 23 leading global hospitality companies, are today launching a methodology to calculate and communicate the carbon footprint of hotel stays and meetings in a consistent and transparent way.

The group saw an opportunity to improve how the hotel industry communicates its impacts. Currently, approaches to measuring and reporting on carbon emissions vary widely. This can lead to confusion amongst consumers, particularly corporate clients, looking to understand their own potential carbon footprint and meet their own goals/targets in this area. In addition, the number of methodologies and tools in use make transparency of reporting within the hotel industry difficult to achieve.

The Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative (HCMI) Working Group, comprising of hotel members within ITP and WTTC, was formed in early 2011 at the request of member companies to devise a unified methodology based on available data and to address inconsistencies in hotel companies’ approaches.

The methodology, named ‘HCMI 1.0’, launched today is a consolidated move, led by the hotel industry, to establish a global standardised approach to this common problem for the hotel sector and its corporate customer base. 

The methodology, informed by the GHG Protocol Standards, was first developed in 2011 and has since been tested in hotels of different style and size in different geographical locations and refined through a stakeholder engagement process, with input from consultants KPMG. It has also been reviewed by the World Resources Institute.

HCMI demonstrates how effective collaboration can provide solutions which benefit customers, individual companies, and wider industry. Through common measurement and language, stakeholders will now be able to greater understand their footprints and impacts.David Scowsill, President & CEO of WTTC said, “WTTC has long been advocating that industry speaks with ‘one voice’. Through this initiative we have seen major hotel companies come together to agree a means of communicating carbon impacts which ultimately will result in more transparency and clarity for the consumer. HCMI has broken new ground in its industry driven approach and I congratulate the companies involved on their leadership in ensuring this important initiative comes to fruition. We expect this industry common language to be widely used within the next two years.”

Stephen Farrant, Director of ITP said, "This has been a model of competitive collaboration that may serve as a useful template for other industry sectors to learn from in addressing the challenges of carbon management. It is inspiring to see so many leading hotel companies across the industry working together over so many months to make this unique and ground-breaking initiative a reality.”

Yvo de Boer, KPMG Special Global Advisor, Climate Change & Sustainability added, “Carbon measurement is one of the key challenges of our time and the myriad of systems to measure and report carbon usage, particularly in the hotel sector, results in confusion and scepticism amongst consumers. This initiative to ensure that hotels are aligned in their approach to carbon measurement is a vital step in addressing the challenge.”

The Working Group comprises of leading international hotel companies such as Accor, Beijing Tourism Group, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, Diamond Resorts International, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, Hilton Worldwide, Hong Kong & Shanghai Hotels, Hyatt Corporation, InterContinental Hotels Group, Jumeirah Group, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Marriott International Inc, Meliá Hotels International, MGM Resorts International, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, Orient-Express Hotels Ltd, Pan Pacific Hotel Group, Premier Inn - Whitbread Group, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, The Red Carnation Hotel Collection, TUI AG, Wyndham Worldwide.

The priority for the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative moving forward will be to maximise the take up and recognition of the methodology by a broader range of hotels and their customers. A review process has been put in place to ensure the methodology may be further refined as user feedback and new research come to light.

For further information, please contact:

Source: World Travel & Tourism Council

Monday, June 11, 2012

How to save money on energy

Opportunities are there for hotels to become greener. To save energy, water, resources. However, what are the reasons for doing it? Is it because it is good for the environment? Is it because it became a trend? Is it becauseit is cool? Is it because they are expected to do it? 
No... it is because not only is good business, but is Smart Business - Becoming greened saves money!

Do your homework
  • Ask your energy providers or local government if they offer any type of incentive program for implementing energy-efficient equipment or processes.
  • Put together a written energy management plan. Key components should include energy forecasting and procurement, facility audits, financial analysis, integrated building upgrades, equipment purchasing, new construction and preventive maintenance.
  • Implement a comprehensive preventive maintenance program to monitor all potential areas of energy consumption.
  • Implement an employee awareness program and encourage them to report energy waste to managers, maintenance or engineering personnel.
  • Electric meters should be submetered to make it easy to identify the largest electricity users at the hotel and to recognize problem areas. Set targets for energy consumption per meter.
  • Be cautious of energy remarketers when planning your energy purchasing strategy. Locking in rates can actually eliminate incentives to save energy.

  • Hire an energy expert to conduct an audit of your hotel.
  • Contract with an energy monitoring and reporting service to track utility costs and interpret billing trends.
  • Assign someone to monitor energy consumption on a consistent basis.

  • Install energy management systems in guestrooms, meeting rooms and other public spaces.
  • Install energy misers on vending machines.
  • Install thermal-glass windows.
  • Install draperies with thermal reflective liners.
  • Purchase renewable energy from your local utility.
  • Use solar panels to generate electricity.
  • Explore the purchase of a fuel cell power generator

Preventive maintenance
  • Train housekeepers to turn off lighting and heating and cooling equipment when not needed. easily resolve this problem.
  • Check HVAC controls for proper calibration. Improperly maintained air handlers can waste up to 32 percent of the energy they consume. 
  • Check all duct work for air leaks and repair where appropriate. Air ducts should be cleaned monthly.
  • Check all electrical systems for loose connections or poor motor conditions. Without proper preventive maintenance, these systems typically generate a 5 to 10 percent energy loss.
  • Furnaces and boilers should be completely inspected by a professional mechanical contractor at least once or twice a year.

Equipment Purchasing
  • Purchase minibars that use LED lighting and that incorporate energy-efficient cooling systems.
  • Purchase hand dryers with automatic sensor controls. However if possible, use towels.
  • Purchase computer products that meet the Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) standard. They meet the Energy Star guidelines for energy efficiency.

  • During low occupancy periods, place guests in closely-located guestrooms.
  • Encourage staff to use stairs when moving between one to two floors when not carrying loads.
  • Program your elevator to remain stationary on the exiting floor rather than returning to the main floor.
  • Shut down one or more of your elevators during periods of light traffic.
  • Shut down office equipment such as photocopiers and computer monitors when not in use.
  • Turn off coffee makers, hair dryers and other appliances or personal electronics while guestrooms are unoccupied.
  • Participate in as many Energy Star programs as possible.

  • In swimming pools, remove foreign material from the strainer baskets in the skimmer and pump regularly to maximize water recirculation.
  • Operate your pool pump during off peak hours.

  • Beware of local and passive construction techniques and use of materials. This will decrease the energy need. e.g. do not build a 'glass building' if your hotel is located in Alasca, or in Marocco (you get the idea). 
  • Use light-colored reflective surface on roofs.
  • Metal tile panel roofing systems can help reduce energy costs. 
  • Consider green roof systems that incorporate soil and plants.
  • Tint windows that receive direct sun, or use natural shades.
  • Use adequate amount of insulation in ceilings, exterior and basement walls, flooring and crawl spaces.
  • Weather stripping on outside entrances typically lasts less than two years. Placing a brush-type of weather stripping that does not affect the operation of the door and that provides a good seal from the outside cold weather will pay handsome dividends.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

How to Power Up with Photovoltaics

Hotels have become increasingly effective at improving the efficiency of their operations and conserving energy, many realizing meaningful energy savings and improved profitability. Such changes can also provide an opportunity to generate renewable energy on site with a photovoltaic (PV) system, displacing electricity that would have otherwise been purchased from a utility. 
As solar electric PV technology continues to improve in efficiency, reliability, and become more accessible for various applications and situations, more hotels are considering adding a PV system to whittle away energy needs while showcasing their concern for the environment with their guests. Various tax incentives and rebates are also furthering the adoption of PV systems, especially by those hospitality companies eager to be ahead of the coming requirements related to accounting for their carbon emissions. PVs also count toward LEED certification, created by the U.S. Green Building Council.
For most hotel locations, there’s enough sunshine to make PV systems a viable option for generating at least some of their own renewable energy. From small bed & breakfasts to large resorts and hotels, photovoltaic systems, like solar thermal systems, have become a part of the energy plan for businesses seeking to control spiraling energy costs by generating their own renewable energy. For example, at the Hotel Carlton, a boutique Joie de Vivre hotel in San Francisco, their 18.5 kW photovoltaic system mounted on their roof meets more than nine percent of the hotel’s annual electricity needs. A digital readout in the lobby allows guests to monitor how well the hotel is generating on any given day.

Not to be confused with solar thermal systems that capture the heat of the sunlight warming the Earth. 
  • A photovltaic (PV) system generate electricity directly from the sunlight without creating any water or air pollution
  • A PV system is quiet, reliable and relatively easy to install by a growing number of professional installer-dealers. 
  • PV systems are relatively maintenance-free and could last as long as 30 or 40 years.

For many hotels, adding photovoltaic systems offer a visible and practical way to demonstrate their commitment to preserving the environment in ways that go beyond organic linens, recycling, compact fluorescent bulbs and low-flow faucets. As a result, many of these hotels end up garnering more media interest, translating to more visible public relations opportunities.
The PV modules, or panels, are composed of many individual solar cells and generate electricity when some of the photons from the sunlight are absorbed by the silicon-based semiconductor atoms, freeing the electrons to flow through an external circuit and back into the cell. This flow of electrons provides the electrical current. 
Solar cells are grouped together into a panel with a specified power, and the panels are then grouped together to form 12-, 24-, 36-, or 48-volt arrays. The number of panels in a PV array varies based on the desired output of the system and the power of the PV panels.
(180w solar panel)
There are several main components to a PV system: the PV panels, the rack on which the panels are placed, and the inverter which converts the direct current (DC) electricity coming from the panels into alternating current (AC), which is typically used in powering appliances. There are two basic types of PV modules, each with specific features: 
  • crystalline or polycrystalline modules - More time-tested technology. However:
    •  Modules are fragile and moderately heavy, requiring the PV panels to be mounted into an aluminum frame between a layer of glass and a stiff bottom material. 
    • These panels loose efficiency
    • Produce less electricity in hot temperatures 
    • Stop producing any electricity if a small portion of the panel is shaded.
    • Because of their properties, are typically mounted on a south facing roof, on a static frame on the ground, or on a tracker that rotates to follow the sun’s path across the sky. 
  • Amorphous silicon modules - The newer thin-film amorphous silicon modules, resemble shingles and standing-seam roofing panels, and are often called building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), or more commonly, solar shingles:
    •  These flexible shingles use a stainless steel foil and weatherproof elastomer plastic coating,
    •  More durable, 
    • Much lighter,
    • Less expensive. 
    • Diffused light, partial shade, and hot temperatures do not greatly diminish energy production when using solar shingles.
    • Can be mounted in various ways, depending on the location and size of the system.
    • Thin-film amorphous silicon PV cells are installed in a way that resembles a roofing job; the shingles can be installed directly over plywood. 
    • Solar shingles often offer a standard 25-year warranty.

There are three basic PV system designs: 
  1. grid connected without battery backup, 
  2. grid-connected with battery backup, and
  3. stand-alone, independent or off-grid system. 

Most hotels will select a grid connected system without battery backup system due to ease of installation and greater availability of funding or incentives. Banks of batteries for the second and third options increase the cost, complexity and maintenance of the PV system. In USA most of the states and publicly traded utilities offer net-metering, which allows hotels to bank any excess electricity on the utility grid if a surplus is generated. Some utilities will even pay $.25 per kilowatt-hour of surplus energy generated.

The first step in developing a renewable energy system design—after the size of the system is determined based on electricity use and available funds—is a site assessment. The three key factors for a viable site for PV are 
  1. southern exposure with the modules exposed to sun as much as possible, usually between the peak sun hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., 
  2. the southern exposure being free from obstructions that might shade the module, and 
  3. appropriate and sufficient space for the PV system. 

To address possible obstructions that might shade the panels, a special tool called a pathfinder is often used to evaluate both summer and winter paths of the sun.
The installed per-watt cost of PV systems, while decreasing after tax credits and state incentives, make the investment in PV worthwhile only if you have a 10 to 20 year economic payback horizon and have exhausted energy conservation efforts. Until costs come down on the solar panels, they are more expensive on a per-watt installed cost basis when compared to other renewable energy systems such as wind turbines. Within the renewable energy industry, it’s commonly believed that each dollar spent on energy efficiency saves at least three dollars in PV system components.
For many hotels in areas that showcase scenic natural areas, social and environmental costs are often more important than economic payback windows when considering conventional energy sources, like coal-fired electrical power stations. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), electric power plants are the largest single-source contributor to global warming, and according to the EPA, electricity generation from power plants also causes emissions of sulfur dioxide, the leading component of acid rain; emissions of nitrogen oxides, a key contributor to high ozone levels and smog, acid rain and fine particulate; and are a source of heavy metals (such as mercury), which can contaminate rivers and lakes.
A basic net-metered grid-interconnected system can cost about $8 to $15 per installed watt, depending on the site, scale and location of the system. In some areas, federal or state financial incentives, low interest loans, and tax credits can help reduce the installed cost. According to SolarBuzz LLC, the solar modules account for as much as half of the total cost of an installed solar energy system.

John Ivanko and his family operate the award-winning Inn Serendipity B&B in southwestern Wisconsin. The Inn is completely powered by renewable energy and “climate negative” in how it operates. Also, as it has been doing so well, the bed and beakfast is among the “Top 10 Eco-Destinations in North America” and earned “5 Green Stars” from Eco Hotels of the World. The owners  like to think Apollo, the legendary Greek god of the sun, is smiling down on their business. 

"We use the sun to grow most of the organic foods we serve our guests. So it made sense to also generate at least some of our power from the sunlight. We also generate renewable energy from a 10kW Bergey wind turbine and have two solar thermal systems. On an annual basis, Inn Serendipity generates about 3,000 more kilowatt-hours of electricity than it uses, resulting in credit payments from our local utility of about $300 per year.

To minimize our per-watt installed cost, we attached our four 170-watt Suntech PV panels onto a Unirac, which we cantilevered off the south-facing wall of an equipment shed. We ran a short DC line through the wall into a SunnyBoy inverter, then tied it into the nearest breaker box in the shed. With respect to our grid intertie with our public utility, a simple contract, certificate of liability insurance in excess of $300,000, equipment specification sheets, and a lockable external AC disconnect (to allow our utility to isolate our system when needed) were necessary for the project.

For our small 680-watt grid-tied PV system, the installed cost was about $5,600, less a $1,315 Wisconsin Focus on Energy state-sponsored cash-back grant. This resulted in our PV system having a net $6 per watt installed cost. We generate about 900 kWh per year. For our business, we receive a federal renewable energy production credit of $18.90 along with taking all depreciation allowed. The development of a “hybrid” renewable energy system using both PV and wind energy generation has enabled us to produce an energy surplus and generate income to offset anticipated maintenance costs for the wind turbine system. As it turns out, days with the most sunlight have the least wind, and vice versa."

Watts: A unit of power (i.e., 100-watt incandescent bulb). Power used by an appliance multiplied by the time it’s in use, expressed as watt-hours. For example, running a 100-watt light bulb for one hour uses 100 watt-hours. Power is the product of current (amperes, or amps) times voltage (or volts), i.e., 1 watt = 1 amp x 1 volt.
Kilowatt-hours: Often expressed as kWh, this is how most companies buy electricity; 1 kilowatt-hour is 1,000 watt-hours (i.e., 1 kWh = 1,000 Wh).
Alternating Current: Usually expressed as AC, this refers to the electrons vibrating back and forth in the wire. Due to its efficiency at moving electricity over long distances with less line loss, AC is the type of current going into most businesses from the power grid. It’s what most appliances are designed to run on.
Direct Current: Usually expressed as DC, this refers to the electrons moving in one direction which, while effective at providing power, tends to degrade quickly when moved over long distances. DC is the form of current that comes from PV panels, and needs to be converted to AC for use in appliances.
Frequency: Frequency refers to the number of cycles per second, measured in hertz (Hz). For AC in the United States, the standard frequency is 60 Hz.
Inverter: An inverter is used to convert DC to AC. Today’s technology can achieve up to 90 percent efficiency (10 percent energy loss).

Source: adapted from  Green Lodging news

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Lighting is the second largest energy-using system in a hotel, and is probably the easiest and most cost-effective area for reducing energy costs (Alexander 2002). Options for lighting energy savings include (Bohdanowicz):
  • Maximising the use of daylight by designing large windows, regular window cleaning and reducing light-blocks (with consideration to heat gain).
  • Adjusting lighting levels to the demand and types of fixtures used for the purpose.
  • Switching off lights in unoccupied areas.
  • Keeping bulbs, reflecting surfaces and diffusers clean at all times for maximum efficiency.
  • Comparing lumens per watt for the most efficient purchase of lighting equipment.
  • Replacing inefficient fluorescent ballasts with new energy-efficient, high-frequency electronic ballasts and inefficient electromagnetic ballasts with new high-frequency ones.
  • Using time and motion sensors for turning lights on and off where appropriate  (the installation of occupancy sensors can lead to 35­‐45% savings on the lighting cost – IMPIVA, 1994).
  • Using a photo-cell or time clock control together with high-efficiency lighting, for outdoor and parking lights.
  • Using dimmer controls in dining areas and meeting rooms.
  • Installing PV-powered outdoor lighting where feasible.

  • Replacing inefficient incandescent lighting fixtures with efficient fluorescent, sodium or metal halide fixtures; tungsten lamps with compact fluorescent lamps, and old fluorescent tubes with new efficient ones.

The installation of low energy lighting is presumably one of the easiest and more adequate solution for an energy saving program, since it reduces not only energy costs, but working costs in bulb changing as well. 
- Cost of electricity will vary. The figures used above are for comparison only, and are not exact. Residential energy costs among the various states range from 28.53 cents (Hawaii) to 6.34 cents (Idaho) per KWH. 
- The cost per bulb for LEDs may vary. We used the figure of $35.95 (for a 60 watt equivalent LED bulb) as an average among lighting retailers.
- Estimates of bulb lifespan are projected, since it would take about 6 years of continuous lighting to test. Some manufacturers claim the new LED bulbs will last up to 25 years under normal household use, but this is not proven.
- Bulb breakage and bulb replacement costs have not been factored into this comparison chart. Incandescent bulbs and CFL bulbs are more easily broken than LEDs, which increases their cost of use.- Most LEDs come with a minimum 2-year guarantee. Any defective LED bulb will usually fail within this time.

This comparison demonstrates that Light-emitting diode (LED) and Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) last much longer than than incandescent lights, using significantly less energy for the same light output. Both generate less heat than incandescent bulbs thereby reducing the cooling load. Another advantage of investing in lighting is the payback time, which is relatively short.

According to the Alliance to Save Energy, a compact fluorescent light used in place of an incandescent light that is left on continuously for 12 months, all 8,760 hours of the year, will pay for itself in less than one year.

However, to make an appropriate choice for lighting, not only costs and energy should be compared, but also durability, the usage of hazardous materials, replacement frequency and sensitivity amongst others (see table below).

It is clear that incandescent light bulbs are much less efficient that both CFLs and LEDs. But what about comfort? It is difficult to give up on comfortable, warm lighting. So, how do this lights perform?

Compared to the average incandescent bulb, a LED 17/75-watt bulb is much less fragile, uses less energy, can match that familiar yellow glow of incandescents, and lasts far longer. Compared to many CFLs on the market, it gives off a warmer light if that's what you're looking for. The LED is slightly dimmer than the average incandescent, which can be quite pleasant for bedrooms where you want a cozy light. But several LEDs from the market, are still only available at early-adopter prices. It is expected that they come down in price shortly. Therefore, it is a good idea to start planning those replacements!

The Sheraton Tacoma Hotel developed a project to transition to compact fluorescent light fixtures. The staff replaced 2,000 incandescent light fixtures with quadruple-tube compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs in various areas of the hotel such as the guest rooms and the lobby. The cost saving was calculated at up to $15,000 with a payback rate of 18 months. (Alexander 2002)

To encourage hoteliers to really invest in environmental measures (including energy conservation measures such as the mentioned above), a pro-­‐active French hotelier interviewed by the Hotel Energy Solutions (2009),  recommended highlighting the fact that investment in energy conservation measures can improve the overall performance of the hotel.
He adds that it is a way to motivate the staff and an opportunity to re­‐evaluate guests’ needs and the services provided by the hotel, while getting more visibility on the market and maintaining (or achieving) good economic performance

Setting goals and targets and monitoring results are great tools for observing your progress in energy use as well as your declining energy costs. So... why not setting a goal for a Net-Zero Hotel? Switch to more energy efficient bulbs, adopt more responsible attitudes, invest in clean energies and (very important) keep monitoring results!

Watts: A unit of power (i.e., 100-watt incandescent bulb). Power used by an appliance multiplied by the time it’s in use, expressed as watt-hours. For example, running a 100-watt light bulb for one hour uses 100 watt-hours. Power is the product of current (amperes, or amps) times voltage (or volts), i.e., 1 watt = 1 amp x 1 volt.
Kilowatt-hours: Often expressed as kWh, this is how most companies buy electricity; 1 kilowatt-hour is 1,000 watt-hours (i.e., 1 kWh = 1,000 Wh).

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Athenaeum Hotel Vertical Garden

Source: Athenaeum Hotel
Artist: Patrick Blanc
Schedule: completed in 2009

Patrick Blanc is THE expert in Green-walls (aka living-walls and breathing walls). He is an award-winning artist and research scientist. He had been for decades examining the way that numerous wild plants naturally grow on vertical rock faces and trees, and since then he has been on a mission to transform concrete walls into beautiful havens of biodiversity. His famous Vertical Gardens hang all over the world, from Bangkok to Paris, New York to Tokyo… and now London in the Athenaeum Hotel.

Using his pioneering planting techniques, Patrick Blanc has created another spectacular Living Wall at the athenaeum. It uses more species of plants than any other Vertical Garden in the UK - including the world's biggest single collection of Urticaceae. Patrick carefully collected the different species from dripping warm locations all over East Asia. Next, he propagated the plants in a nursery in the South of France then inserted the roots into the specially constructed, irrigated felt at the athenaeum.

Patrick perfected a technique that enables urban plants to grow vertically without the need for soil. A system of slats is used to secure artificial felt and myriads of strategically placed plant roots, with automated watering and fertilisation. Basically he uses a kind of techno-trellis as the underlying structure: A plastic-coated aluminum frame is fastened to the wall and covered with synthetic felt into which plant roots can burrow. A custom irrigation system keeps the felt moist with a fertilizer solution modeled after the rainwater that trickles through forest canopies.

The vertical garden at the Athenaeum is eight stories tall, has 260 plant species and more than 12,000 plants. But plants for this vertical landscape must be chosen with care. Because the walls are so high, conditions vary widely. The shade at ground level is perfect for rare Asian nettles; on the brighter upper stories, plants that usually cling to windblown cliff faces brave the blustery British breezes. Noteworthy species include:
  • Adiantum capillus-veneris (From warm temperate and tropical climates - Colin no country listed)
  • Begonia grandis PB (Green - from China and Japan)
  • Begonia grandis PB (Dark red - from China and Japan)
  • Begonia pedatifida PB (China)
  • Billbergia nutans (South Brazil)
  • Corydalis cheilanthifolia (China)
  • Cyrtomium macrophyllum (Japan)
  • Fascicularia bicolour (Chile)
  • Ficus erecta var. sieboldii (South Korea)
  • Fuchsia hatschbachii (South Brazil)
  • Fuchsia regia (South Brazil)
  • Hemiboea cf. strigosa PB (China)
  • Impatiens arguta (Himalayas and East Africa)
  • Impatiens mengtzeana (Himalayas and East Africa)
  • Impatiens sp 1 (yellow) (Himalayas and East Africa)
  • Impatiens sp 2 (pink) (Himalayas and East Africa)
  • Iris japonica (Japan and China)
  • Lonicera pileata (China)
  • Rubus ichangensis (Colin - no country listed)
  • Stachyurus salicifolius (China)
  • Boehmeria platyphylla (India)
  • Boehmeria tricuspis (Japan)
  • Debregeasia longifolia (India)
  • Elatostema radicans var. minimum (Japan)
  • Elatostema scabrum (Japan)
  • Elatostema umbellatum var. majus (Japan)
  • Elatostema umbellatum `Dents de Kyoto' (Japan)
  • Pilea matsudai (Taïwan)
  • Pilea peperomioides (China)
  • Pilea petiolaris (Japan)
  • Pilea scripta (India)
  • Pilea umbrosa (India)
  • Pilea plataniflora (Sikkim)

As well as the aesthetic benefits, the vertical garden will also act as a natural air purification system and act as natural insulation for the building (for more information about the benefits of living walls click here)