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First steps into sustainability for hotel owners: kill your energy bill

Global warming, disappearing species and the overall unsustainability of our actions on our planet – these are the topics which often appear in the news. The deteriorating environment is especially of immense concern for the tourism sector, which relies heavily on the beauty of the surroundings. For this reason, hotel managers should be at the frontline of introducing eco-friendly solutions.

There have been many articles underlining the advantages of environmental strategies, which include saving considerable amount of money on bills, engaging employees and attracting and keeping eco-conscious guests.

All this sounds very promising but many of us feel overwhelmed with the scope of work to be done. In this article we show how to save on your energy bills and use it as a marketing tool to find new clients for your hotel. Energy efficiency has often been put on a second place in tourism sector so there is a lot of room for improvement, which makes it a good starting point to drive your hotel towards sustainability.

A practical first step towards sustainability

A significant portion of a building’s emissions relate to space-heating. Energy bills are significant for hotel owners and finding ways to reduce their cost is an important driver for business operations.

Insulation is a proven, reliable and relatively straightforward method for killing two birds with one stone:

  • Reducing energy bill overheads
  • Improving environmental credentials

As a practical take away let’s look at facts on insulation and a case study on applying sustainability practices to an award winning eco-hotel.

Some facts on insulation

  • Over 60% of a building heat can be lost through un-insulated walls and lofts. A highly efficient way to save energy and prevent money disappearing into thin air is to stop this heat escaping with insulation.
  • Insulation is also relevant in warm climates, as it reduces energy costs for air conditioning.
  • Retro-fitting insulation is possible across various parts of buildings like the loft, wall cavities and draught proofing for doors and windows.
  • There are often Government funding schemes to help subsidise costs of installing insulation.
  • There are a range of sustainable materials suitable for insulation:
  • Wood fibre, flax fibre and hemp bricks,
  • Sheep wool,
  • Recycled paper, textiles or glass.

Case study: Boutique-hotel Stadthalle in Vienna

The eco-friendly Hotel Stadthalle successfully used sustainability as a tool for competitive advantage. It has been the first hotel in Vienna to be awarded the EU Ecolabel for its eco-friendly efforts. And it has much to boast about – among other achievements, its new building maintains ‘zero-energy’ balance by needing very little energy for space heating thanks to very good insulation and by producing its own energy with solar panels, ground water heat pumps and three wind turbines.

It is interesting to note that the ‘zero-energy’ rooms have no air-conditioning as the priority is to save energy, but the good insulation also helps the rooms not heat up in warm summer days and guests have fans at their disposal.

On the back of a suite of environmental improvements the hotel went on to win numerous awards and, perhaps most tellingly, consistently high praise from guests including a Platinum Green Leader on Trip Advisor. All the information about its sustainability measures and the list of all awards are proudly featured on its website.

The evidence for embedding sustainable practices within the hospitality sector is clear, as demonstrated through this example on insulation. The same could be applied to water consumption or waste generation. It not only helps with improving bottom line performance, its value-adding benefits for the top line are also apparent.

The opportunity for hotels now is to go one step further and look at how sustainable business practices can be incorporated to fully take advantage of the sustainability trend. This will act to future-proof business operations and staying one step ahead of the competition whilst demonstrating clear commitment to environmental stewardship.

Interested in other green practices? Have a look at the best practices section

Do you want to know more about this topic? Check the following best practice: