Lever­ag­ing the Power of Sus­tain­abil­ity for Ho­tels

Thai-American Business (T-AB) Magazine - - Front Page - Writ­ten by: Grace Kang

With the re­cent COP21 cli­mate talks in Paris, there has been a lot of chat­ter about the im­pacts of global warm­ing to our planet and so­ci­ety and what we should do about it. We hear a lot of anec­do­tal sto­ries, best prac­tices and case stud­ies on what com­pa­nies are do­ing to­day on the sus­tain­abil­ity front. And If you’ve been lis­ten­ing to th­ese sto­ries over the past few years, you might have no­ticed an emerg­ing trend: sto­ries in­clude data. When we talk about sus­tain­abil­ity, we now in­clude peo­ple, planet and profit. It does in­clude com­mu­nity and giv­ing pro­grams like do­na­tions and plant­ing trees, but it also in­cludes things like en­ergy us­age, car­bon emis­sions, wa­ter scarcity and waste gen­er­a­tion. And how does all of the above im­pact your bot­tom line? The an­swers will lie in the data that you track, mon­i­tor and an­a­lyze.

What types of data are we talk­ing about? For ho­tel op­er­a­tions, this can get a bit more com­pli­cated than a com­mer­cial build­ing. For one, ho­tels typ­i­cally run 24/ 7, while a com­mer­cial build­ing will gen­er­ally power off over night with very few peo­ple oc­cu­py­ing the build­ing. There are those stan­dard utility bills re­ceived by all, such as the elec­tric­ity and wa­ter bills. And then there are best prac­tices such as the ubiq­ui­tous towel and linens re­use pro­gram or a less com­mon but soon to be emerg­ing trend of us­ing re­new­able en­ergy on­site.

If you’re a hote­lier, you are prob­a­bly fa­mil­iar with the STAR bench­mark­ing re­port. STR has been pro­vid­ing av­er­age daily rate ( ADR), oc­cu­pancy and rev­enue per avail­able room ( REVPAR) data for a ho­tel’s com­pet­i­tive set for over 30 years. It has been a sta­ple for many rev­enue man­agers. But what can ho­tel op­er­a­tors, own­ers, and brands use to de­ci­pher the com­pli­cated land­scape of sus­tain­abil­ity?

To get the full pic­ture, there are two types

of data a ho­tel can track and mon­i­tor to un­der­stand cur­rent state as well as find op­por­tu­ni­ties to re­duce im­pact and cut costs. First, track utility con­sump­tion on a set fre­quency ( gen­er­ally on a monthly in­ter­val). You should be able to an­swer ques­tions like what was your to­tal en­ergy con­sump­tion last year? What was your to­tal car­bon emis­sions same pe­riod? What about to­tal wa­ter us­age? Sec­ond, track at­tributes of your de­sign, equip­ment and op­er­a­tions. Do you have low- flow show- er­heads to con­serve wa­ter? Do you have vari­able fre­quency drives to re­duce en­ergy con­sump­tion?

And why is it im­por­tant to col­lect both types of data? They go hand in hand like a nice Su­per Tus­can wine with ox­tail ragù sauce. You may find that your en­ergy con­sump­tion is high after track­ing your utility us­age. You want to fig­ure out ways to re­duce con­sump­tion and cost. One of the ways would be to im­ple­ment vari­able fre­quency drives or in­stall low- flow shower heads in all guest rooms. Sim­i­lar to the STAR re­port, it would be even more in­ter­est­ing if you can com­pare your us­age, cost and best prac­tices against your peer group. What if you found out that your prop­erty is among the 15% that use re­new­able en­ergy on­site among your peers? That’s some­thing to pat your­self on the back about. But what if you are the 20% of ho­tels that don’t use vari­able fre­quency drives? And you also see that your en­ergy con­sump­tion is much higher than your peer group? That might get you to act fast. And that’s re­ally the power of data, us­ing it as a driv­ing force to cat­alyze sus­tain­abil­ity across the ho­tel in­dus­try, start­ing with a re­gion, coun­try and hope­fully glob­ally.

To bet­ter il­lus­trate the power of data and bench­mark­ing, let’s re­view the Sus­tain­abil­ity Data Trends Re­port con­ducted by Hor­wath HTL and Green­view, that in­cluded over 1,400 ho­tels and ser­viced apart­ments across the Asia Pa­cific re­gion. The study took 2014 data on select de­sign, equip­ment, and op­er­a­tions as­pects to bench­mark within and across coun­tries. The re­port in­cludes both data types: ( 1) utility con­sump­tion and cost data and; ( 2) best prac­tices em­bed­ding as­pects of de­sign, equip­ment, and op­er­a­tions. The fo­cus was on three ar­eas: ( 1) trend­ing best prac­tices ( e. g. li­nen/ towel re­use, low- flow fix­tures); ( 2) emerg­ing best prac­tices ( e. g. vari­able fre­quency drives, wa­ter re­use); and ( 3) nascent in­no­va­tions ( e. g. use of re­new­able en­ergy).

Utility data for en­ergy and wa­ter re­flect ho­tels’ 2014 data. En­ergy us­age can vary for ho­tels due to fac­tors such as weather and oc­cu­pancy. Hav­ing a swim­ming pool and large land­scap­ing ar­eas can also im­pact wa­ter us­age. The im­por­tant ques­tion to ask is whether you are us­ing your en­ergy and wa­ter ef­fi­ciently. Below is the util­i­ties and car­bon emis­sions snap­shot for Thai­land. It is bro­ken out by prop­erty type in­clud­ing full ser­vice, lim­ited ser­vice, re­sort, city/ ur­ban, and con­ven­tion prop­er­ties. The ho­tels can use the data below to un­der­stand where they stack up against other ho­tels in the same peer group.

On a side note, if you want to search the range of car­bon emis­sions and en­ergy us­age among ho­tels around the world, check out the Ho­tel Foot­print­ing Tool at www. hotelfoot­prints. org ( it’s free!). In the tool, the Bench­mark­ing func­tion shows the car­bon and en­ergy foot­print data for spe­cific ge­ogra­phies. If you have been track­ing your en­ergy con­sump­tion and car­bon emis­sions data, you can com­pare your ho­tel’s foot­print with those of other ho­tels in their re­gion and mar­ket seg­ment. Li­nen and towel re­use pro­grams are ubiq­ui­tous and in place for the ma­jor­ity of ho­tels in all re­gions. Thai­land too has high per­cent­age of ho­tels adopt­ing this prac­tice. How­ever, only 33% of those with a li­nen towel re­use pro­gram change bed linens only upon guests’ re­quests. If you have a li­nen/ towel re­use pro­gram, one easy thing you can do to dou­ble the sav­ings, is only change the linens when the guest re­quests, in­stead of mak­ing the guest put the card on the bed to tell you not to change it.

In­stalling low- flow fix­tures in re­strooms in­clud­ing show­er­heads, faucets, and toi­lets is of­ten the largest op­por­tu­nity for a ho­tel to use less wa­ter. 61% of Thai­land’s full ser­vice ho­tels in­stalled them and 77% of lim­ited ser­vice ho­tels has them.

Re­use of gray­wa­ter is emerg­ing and preva­lent in some coun­tries. Re­use of gray­wa­ter and rain­wa­ter cap­ture is most preva­lent in China, and present in about a quar­ter to a third of ho­tels in Thai­land and other coun­tries. The ma­jor­ity of ho­tels in the re­gion now use Vari­able Fre­quency Drives ( VFDS). The most com­monly used VFD is in wa­ter pump­ing and HVAC sys­tems. In Thai­land’s case, there is op­por­tu­nity to grow this prac­tice as there was only 51% of sur­veyed ho­tels that have in­stalled them.

Fi­nally, on­site gen­er­a­tion of re­new­able en­ergy is still emerg­ing for most coun­tries in­clud­ing Thai­land, but will be a ma­jor trend to watch.

We’ve all heard the phrase, if you don’t mea­sure it, you can’t man­age it. If you weren’t a be­liever in data be­fore, I hope I’ve con­vinced you that track­ing and mea­sur­ing var­i­ous sus­tain­abil­ity data points are nec­es­sary and im­por­tant. The data will shed light on ways to lessen the en­vi­ron­men­tal foot­print, find op­por­tu­ni­ties to save cost and even el­e­vate guest ex­pe­ri­ence.

Grace Kang is Man­ag­ing Part­ner at Green­view. She can be con­tacted at grace@ green­view. sg

Bangkok Tree House ho­tel

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