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Sustainability in the hotel industry for more energy efficiency, economic efficiency and environmental protection

11 March 2020

Around five million tons of greenhouse gas per year – the CO2 balance of hotels in Germany currently offers little cause for joy. Especially in view of the fact that the hotel industry accounts for about four percent of the total output, a consistent countermeasure appears to be called for. The figures also show that, in terms of sustainability in the hotel industry, the issue of energy efficiency offers considerable savings potential, both economically and in terms of CO2 emissions.

It is not without reason that the hotel industry is undergoing a change of thinking in many places. Sustainability as a potential success factor plays an increasingly important role in strategic considerations, also for image reasons. More and more hoteliers pursue resource-saving projects and recognize the associated opportunities for their business. In this way, a holistic concept of sustainability in the hotels enables a clear positioning on the market in addition to the associated savings potential.

Sustainable hotels – reduced energy consumption and reduced operating costs

In order to ensure more sustainability in the hotel industry, energy consumption must be significantly reduced. This requires increasing energy efficiency and improving energy management. Such a procedure not only contributes to a noticeable reduction in CO2 emissions, but also counteracts rising energy costs. At present, the energy consumption of a hotel accounts for about five to seven percent of the annual operating budget. "Energy consumption plays a major role in building services, i.e. in ventilation, air conditioning, heating and lighting. In relation to the different room types in the hotel, conference areas with their sophisticated room air technology are usually large energy-eaters. In addition to, of course, spa areas and kitchens," explains Manfred Schmitz, CEO of ENGIE Deutschland.

What savings potential do sustainable energy concepts offer?

Depending on the age of the plant technology, savings of between ten and 35 percent can be achieved through resource-saving energy concepts through optimization and modernization. The example of a typical 4-star hotel with 150 rooms shows how high the savings potential is. With annual energy costs of 300,000 euros, there are realistic savings potential of 30,000 to 100,000 euros per year.

Contracting as a lucrative approach for more sustainability in the hotel industry

When it comes to sustainable energy concepts in hotels, many operators face two major challenges: Building technology is becoming increasingly complex and internal know-how is lacking. A further hurdle is the high investment costs resulting from the modernization of the technical building systems. This is why hoteliers increasingly rely on external service providers for energy and facility management and use contracting models to increase the sustainability of their hotels.

The principle: The contractor, as an operating company, develops individual solutions for modern, energy-efficient supply systems and bears the entire investment. In return, hotel owners and operators (contracting owners) gradually pay back the money via the saved energy costs.

Energy in the hotel: Customized solutions enable efficient use

The greatest possible savings effect can be achieved by tailor-made solutions. Thus, each hotel places different demands on the building and energy technology to be installed. Accordingly, potential measures must be assessed in advance for their effectiveness and tailored to the specific case. For this purpose, all energy sources and consumers as well as all processes related to the energy consumption are first identified, so that technical and process improvements can be implemented subsequently.

Focus on holistic approach

In order to significantly increase sustainability in hotels, concepts are necessary that go beyond merely modernizing the building technology or replacing the lighting. In this context, ENGIE offers all services relating to the technical building systems of hotels, from construction and operation to service and maintenance. For the best possible sustainability in the hotel industry, ENGIE relies on a three-stage process that includes not only the modernization and optimization of plants and processes but also a possible use of renewable energies:

  1. Eliminate unnecessary energy users: The use of modern control technology, for example, controls the lighting depending on activity and daylight. The conference room is heated only during use or the refrigerator is only operated if there is a corresponding cooling requirement.
  2. Utilize efficiency gains: A higher efficiency is achieved, for example, via a more efficient system technology and an intelligent control. The use of cooler outside air instead of refrigerating machines for cooling or the use of waste heat from the kitchen for heating hotel rooms play a role.
  3. Check the use of alternative and renewable energies: Depending on the situation and the environment, the use of a combined heat and power station for high-efficiency power and heat generation enables the use of cost-effective and environmentally friendly energy for own consumption. The same applies to the use of a PV system, heat pumps or other biogenic fuels.

Future developments in the energy sector are driving sustainability in the hotel industry

In particular, the advances in Digitalization are creating further space for additional savings. Thus, the changes in building automation technology that accompany it, especially through the possibilities of the Internet of Things (IoT), make it possible to realize even more intelligent solutions for the demand-oriented control of plant components. Future-oriented photovoltaic films, which are developed by Heliatek in Germany, for example, already represent an exciting alternative to the known panels. Similar developments can also be found in many other areas and will constantly expand the potential of sustainable energy and facility management in hotels and other buildings.

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Our Expert

Steffen Haller
Steffen Haller is Head of the Energy Efficiency division at ENGIE. As an expert, he deals with the analysis, planning and implementation of energy efficiency measures.

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