This Web Exclusive comes from Michael Winegard, East Coast Regional Sales Manager for BetaLED, a brand of Beta Lighting (a Wisconsin-based Ruud Lighting company).
Excluding labor, energy is typically the highest cost that hoteliers face. More efficient building products, equipment, and systems can be used to lower energy usage throughout a property, whether new construction, remodeling or in existing facilities via retrofitting.
A hotel may incorporate green design with the intention of seeking LEED certification or with the objective of cutting long-term energy costs, but the overall result will be the same—a reduction in the negative impact the building will have on the environment. The building industry is acknowledging that going green is the right thing to do. The public is also keenly aware of that fact in response to recent spikes in energy and gasoline prices. As a result, environmental friendliness can be a marketable strength for a hotel brand and lead to a better reputation among consumers.
That said, I was surprised to read in a Los Angeles Times article, “Eco-friendly lodging firmly taking root,” that only a small fraction of the more than 47,000 U.S. hotels are enrolled in a formal green program. So far, just 11 hotels have been constructed to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED standards, and there are only 314 properties that meet Energy Star™ commercial requirements designed to reduce energy consumption. There is obviously much room for improvement, especially with the push by states’ and municipalities’ new mandates, as well as the recently passed American Clean Energy and Security Act.
LED Luminaires Lead the Way
Recent innovation and continuous improvements in lighting technology have given rise to tremendous energy saving opportunities for hotel owners, developers and architects. Lighting, both interior and exterior, is one area where savings can be found.
Typically, LEDs were thought about only for aesthetic uses. But engineering and technological advances have improved LED luminaires’ performance, and it is possible to use high efficiency LED lighting for commercial applications. Additionally, with their compact size, LEDs can be used in places that are difficult to reach with conventional lighting and can also be arranged in a number of different configurations.
In the hotel sector, reducing energy costs while continuing to meet the diverse needs of guests, owners, and corporate requirements is challenging but by no means impossible. According to the Ontario Restaurant, Hotel and Motel Association, it is estimated that hotels could cut energy costs by 20% or more by adopting proven energy efficiency measures.
And, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has calculated the cost savings associated with even a 10% improvement in energy efficiency is equivalent to increasing average daily room rates by 62 cents and $1.35 for limited-service and full-service hotels, respectively.
Holiday Inn Express, Brattleboro, VT
The first opportunity to present a positive impression about the relative safety of a hotel or motel property is at the perimeter. Balanced and even exterior lighting—designed to fill the gap between the property boundary and the facility entrance—is the most important nighttime security feature. Public areas, when bathed in light, are both inviting to the guest and a powerful deterrent to crime.
The lodging industry in Vermont, with nearly 20,000 guest rooms, is already one of the “greenest” in the nation. Vermont innkeepers are recognized nationally as leaders in environmental management and environmental protection.
Last year, through a new technology program from Efficiency Vermont, the Holiday Inn Express in Brattleboro, VT. retrofitted 22 250-watt metal halide fixtures in the parking lot and four 400-watt metal halide fixtures on the property’s access road with LED luminaires. Because of zoning regulations, building façade lights are not allowed at the Holiday Inn Express so it’s critical to have a well lit parking lot.
“The new lighting is awesome; the parking lot illumination is fantastic,” said Chief Engineer Bob Kane. “We’ve had quite a few guests compliment us on how well lit the parking area is.”
The retrofit of these 26 fixtures will save the property 65% over the previous metal halide lighting fixtures assuming a blended rate of .13 cents/kWh at 4,380 hours/year; and 23,700 kWh annually in energy savings.
The Holiday Inn Express is a participant in the Vermont Business Environmental Partnership (VBEP), a state program that recognizes businesses that go the extra step in being environmental stewards. Nationwide, about 300 lodging establishments participate in the Green Hotel program, 65 of which are found in Vermont.
To become a Green Hotel, a business must meet eight standards listed on the VBEP’s web site. The Partnership, a joint effort between the Agency of Natural Resources’ Department of Environmental Conservation, the Vermont Small Business Development Center, the Vermont Hospitality Council, and the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing, is a free program geared towards promoting environmental and economic performance.