Striving for sustainability
Practices need to get serious
Energy – including electricity and water – represents a significant share of total operating costs in the hospitality industry. Rising energy costs and increased awareness on energy conservation benefits have prompted hotels worldwide, including in Dubai to adopt energy-efficient solutions and practices. In addition to improving margins through operational efficiency, energy efficiency is central to hotels striving towards increased sustainability, both as a social responsibility practice as well as a key client differentiator.
Energy conservation measures are applicable and beneficial to both new and existing hotels. New hotels should design their facilities with efficiency in mind as a minor increase in capital expenditure (Capex), if any, will have a very short payback time from reduced operational costs due to lower electricity and water consumption. New buildings should follow green building codes set to create a sustainable built environment through improved guidelines and specifications. For existing hotels, setting clear energy management targets, energy audits and energy-focused facility management are the main levers in managing energy usage. Audits and retrofit projects typically target the main components of a building and modify or replace them with more energy-efficient materials and equipment. This includes heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) upgrades; lighting replacement, efficient water fixture installations, advanced controls and improved processes.
Depending on several factors, these retrofits can generate 20 to 70% savings on the electricity and water bill of hotel establishments, significantly improving bottomlines.
Furthermore, the growth of Energy Performance Contracting offers new business models whereby Energy Service Companies (ESCOS) can retrofit buildings with little or no investment from building owners and get compensated only if energy savings are materialised.
As airconditioning accounts for more than 50% of a hotel’s electricity bill, district cooling can significantly reduce electricity consumption and costs, as it is 40% more energy efficient than other cooling solutions. In addition, hotels should consider purchasing and installing highly energyefficient electrical appliances with a 4-5-star ESMA energy label (A++ rating). This is applicable to a number of appliance categories, namely ACS, refrigerators, washing machines and dishwashers, among others. For example, a refrigerator with 5-star rating can save up to 75% of electricity compared to one with a 1-star rating.
When it comes to water conservation, hotels must consider installation of efficient irrigation systems, nurturing of indigenous species, adoption of hardscaping and irrigation with recycled water. Additionally, installation of aerators and low-flow water fixtures indoors, and sensors, are great ways to reduce wastage.
Hotels can also supplement energy efficiency efforts through using renewable energy. The installation of solar panels can meet part of a hotel’s electricity requirements onsite, thus reducing overall electricity costs and contributing to Dubai’s clean energy targets.
Although a wide array of measures and practices can greatly improve energy efficiency of the hotel sector, the involvement of all stakeholders including hotel guests, is essential for the success of conservation measures. Despite the increasing focus on awareness creation, sustainability practices still do not receive the seriousness and dedication they deserve. Sustainability measures implemented by hotels should be well communicated to guests, thereby slowly integrating these measures into guests’ fundamental requirements for a hotel experience, through the generalisation of these practices.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Shadi Al-kadi is director, programme management at Taqati – the Dubai Energy Efficiency Programme - which is the entity mandated by Dubai Supreme Council of Energy to implement the Demand Side Management Strategy (DSM 2030) of Dubai. He has extensive experience leading transformation and strategy implementation programs in both the public and private sectors in the energy, technology and financial services fields.
Email: [email protected]
Despite the increasing focus on awareness creation, sustainability practices still do not receive the seriousness and dedication they deserve”