[Part 3] Three Ways to Encourage Eco-Friendly Behavior

Click here to read [Part 1] Energy Savings: Commodity Procurement

Click here to read [Part 2] Energy Efficiency: Use Less

According to a recent EnergyStar report, hotels in the United States spend close to $4 billion on energy each year–that’s $2,196 per available room annually. Given that energy costs will only continue to increase, reducing energy expenditures has become a viable way to reduce overall expenses.

Hospitality properties can decrease energy expenditures in three different, yet complementary, ways:

  1. By engaging in commodity procurement measures to reduce the cost of electricity
  2. By increasing energy efficiency to reduce energy usage
  3. By encouraging the development of sustainable day-to-day behaviors

It’s Easy Being Green

Our first strategy to decrease energy expenditures, engaging in commodity procurement measures, can harvest savings in the 4-10 percent range and typically requires committing to purchase gas or electricity from power marketers.

Our second strategy, implementing energy efficiency measures, can yield reductions as high as 60 percent and includes everything from installing an occupancy-based energy management system to replacing drafty windows and doors. This list is endless.

The least costly–and when done right, most persistent–form of energy savings can be harvested by educating and engaging the people who work or come through the building. But how, exactly, can hoteliers influence guest and staff attitudes to encourage eco-minded-thinking and reduce energy expenditures? Here are a few things that work:

1. Communicate your commitment to sustainability to guests.
People who occupy the spaces in your hotels and resorts have increasing concerns regarding sustainability and energy efficiency. In fact, in a study appearing in the August 2011 issue of Cornell Hospitality Quarterly that examined responses from 571 business and leisure travelers, the most influential single attribute for hotel room preference was green certification.

If you have a certification from the U.S. Green Building Council or any other similar credible organization, make sure to display that seal of approval prominently. Your staff should be able to understand and explain to guests what sustainable attributes the hotel has implemented. If employees understand what makes their building unique and green, they will share that information with pride. Guests appreciate that, too.

2. Showcase your program with in-room signage.
Utilize in-room signage to make guests aware of environmentally friendly programs in which they have the option to participate. Most properties will be aware of items like towel rack hangers and sheet changing cards, which ask guests to consider using their linens more than once.

3. Use thermostats with a “green” mode.
If you utilize energy management systems in guestrooms, some manufacturers can provide thermostats with a button that guests can push to enter “green” mode. This button will automatically adjust the guestroom to a profile with setpoints selected to optimize energy and HVAC equipment runtime savings. Often, this feature will also allow for deeper setbacks while the room is unoccupied, saving considerable energy.

To sum up these points:

Take advantage of green technology offered to the hospitality industry.

Encourage guests to opt-in to eco-friendly measures.

Communicate your commitment to the environment.

By encouraging sustainable day-to-day behaviors among guests, building staff, and visitors, hotel managers will see an impact through both reduced operating expenses and increased occupant satisfaction.

Gerrit Reinders is executive vice president for Sales & Marketing at Telkonet. For more information, e-mail Gerrit or follow Telkonet on Twitter @Telkonet.

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  1. Since most municpalities are going broke my questions is which comes first the chicken or the egg? Or directly related to Telkonet how does a city find the money to purchase a system or how interested are they in the first place? If this makes so much sense then every city should be doing this, why aren’t they?

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