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Hotel energy use: UK benchmark study overdue, according to energy consultant

By Peter Ruddick , 09-Mar-2012

A UK benchmark into energy use in hotels is overdue as the results of the last similar study nearly two decades ago are now out of date, according to the managing director of hospitality energy consultants Hotel Energy.

Although hotels are required to submit their emissions figures to the Environment Agency for the Carbon Reduction Scheme (CRS) and are able to find out where they stand in comparison with other hotels in that area, the last benchmark study of energy consumption in UK hotels was carried out in 1993 by the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE).

Speaking to BigHospitality, Christopher Ashleigh, managing director of Hotel Energy, said he is currently working with CIBSE on a benchmark study within one hotel to find out which department is performing best. This works by dividing energy consumption by the internal sq.ft size of the hotel.

However Ashleigh says a wider benchmark study comparing hotels of similar sizes across the UK is long overdue and is being called for by hotels who want to know how they perform alongside their peers.

“It is something that is very much needed. I deal with hotels all the time, hotels are very interested firstly in their own consumption and how they are doing; they all want their Green Certificates and they want to bring down their carbon emissions and any payments they have to make. But at the end of the day they also want to know how good their hotel is doing compared to their next door neighbours,” he said.

1,000 hotels

Ashleigh hopes to build on the benchmark studies within individual hotels and hotel groups to work with CIBSE on a new study of around 1,000 sites that would be a more accurate resource for hotels.

“London, let alone the whole of England, has changed so much. The amount of new hotels that have been built or exchanged hands in the last 19 years is unbelievable. Plus the cost of energy has gone up and there have been new introductions of taxes for using the energy. Energy usually accounts for the second highest overhead of any hospitality business just under remuneration. That is why it is so important,” Ashleigh added.

Too costly?

Speaking to BigHospitality at Hotelympia 2012, Rebecca Hawkins, director of the Responsible Hospitality Partnership, said that carbon reporting was becoming more standardised but a larger or global hotel benchmark of energy usage might be a costly step.

“The most important thing for any business is to benchmark itself against itself. I can understand why having a benchmark for a small hotel is hugely attractive and to build those benchmarks you have to be very specific to get any degree of accuracy and to do that is hugely, hugely expensive. I don’t say that it wouldn’t be beneficial but it is hugely, hugely expensive and I can’t see where the resources would come from to make it happen,” she said.

Hawkins added that most large companies already carried out these studies in-house but to take the next step to a larger benchmark would be difficult.

While Ashleigh agreed that many larger hotel groups already carried out internal studies he argued the demand was still there for a list that identified a best practice level for small, medium and large-sized hotels that businesses could compare themselves too. Energy consumption, he argued, was more important for hotels to measure than carbon emissions as only large businesses needed to purchase carbon credits.

Ashleigh said Hotel Energy would be looking to get hotel associations on board with the study to build more quickly a list of businesses whose data would form the basis of the benchmark. 

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