Energy Audits - Coming to a U.S. Hotel Near You

Jack Wexler
The hospitality sector is one of the most energy-intensive but the average U.S. hotelier is just beginning the sustainability journey. Rising energy costs are driving owner operators, as well as larger corporations, to actively seek energy efficiencies.

This is a fragmented industry with a huge number of stakeholders. In 2009, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) reported that the U.S. hospitality industry comprised 50,800 properties with more than 4.7 million rooms, and generating $127.20 billion in revenues.

Traditionally these facilities have had high levels of energy consumption but smart energy efficiency strategies can make cost effective improvements. A good place to begin is with an energy audit of the building, to provide performance analysis.

Schemes such as ASHRAE will identify

  • how the facility is using energy
  • where wastage is occurring
  • how to implement energy-efficiency improvements

We recommend an ASHRAE Level II energy audit

  • reviews all building systems e.g. lighting, heating, cooling, hot water, roof, building envelope
  • quantifies current energy consumption and cost
  • gives an overall energy utilization index (EUI)
  • identifies Energy Conservation Measures (ECM) available, typically with a payback of zero to eight years
  • ECMs are prioritized by the highest payback per dollar spent and by savings over a five year period
  • Also included are the resulting reduction in emissions, utilities and maintenance expenditures.

An energy audit can be viewed as an investment, not a cost

Some ECMs can have little or no initial cost, yet yield significant savings. In a recent audit the average payback of the recommendations was 2.5 years. The simple payback on the energy audit itself is less than four months.

Areas of audit specific to the hospitality sector

  • observation of night-time operating procedures
  • review of laundry practices
  • review of conference area actual usage versus energy practices during unoccupied times

Energy conservation efforts also affect the loyalty of customers, local community and suppliers. In a recent study of the effects of energy saving treatments on hotel guests' satisfaction, Cornell University researchers found that carefully designed conservation treatments do not diminish the guest experience.

Faithful+Gould’s experience includes identifying where federal stimulus funding is available and helping clients to secure it. Additionally the audit may qualify the property for tax credits, grants, subsidized financing or incentives. For nationwide hospitality corporations, we advise on compliance with state-specific legislation.

Within the hospitality industry we also offer cost management, project management, Owner’s Representative services, property condition assessment and LEED sustainability consultancy. Our client portfolio includes Marriott Vacation Club International, Crown Plaza Hilton Grand Vacations and Disney.

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