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How to improve environmental and commercial sustainability

By Robert Morrall , 08-May-2012

Robert Morrall, managing director of Route Organisation , explains how hotels, pubs and restaurants can gain commercial benefit from improving their environmental credentials.

The British Hospitality Association suggests that 11 million tonnes of carbon emissions are produced by the UK hospitality industry each year, so reducing this figure should be a priority for businesses operating in the sector, but it isn't.  

The problem is often down to a ‘black or white’ approach to motivation, with businesses encouraged to tick either:

Box A – I need to reduce carbon emissions to do my bit for the environment

Or

Box B – I need to reduce energy bills to save my business money 

In such tough economic times, Box B will always win. A poll by M&C Energy Group earlier this year confirmed that hospitality businesses are three times more likely to ignore carbon reduction targets and compliance – concentrating instead on saving money on energy. 

But there is a Box C – do both. By looking at key areas of carbon reduction, hospitality businesses will save energy and boost profit. Just a 20 per cent cut in energy costs can equate to a 5 per cent increase in sales.   

The following simple tips, for three key areas for the hospitality industry, can help boost environmental performance while curbing cash to make a bottom line difference. 

Heating:

  • Try dropping the thermostat by 1°C - it will cut energy consumption by 8 per cent.
  • Programmable time switches will help ensure un-occupied areas aren’t heated unnecessarily.
  • Take hot spots into account e.g. areas near kitchens will be naturally warmer and will not require the same level of heating.
  • Invest in boiler servicing at least once a year to help reduce heating costs by as much as 10 per cent. 

Lighting:

  • Fit energy efficient light bulbs. They use 75 per cent less electricity and last 10 times longer. Traditional bulbs give off 95 per cent of their energy as heat, not light. Energy efficient bulbs don’t and so for areas where drinks/food refrigeration is required, they can also help reduce cooling costs too.
  • Consider unoccupied/low traffic areas such as washrooms, function rooms, back-office facilities and, in the case of hotels, guest rooms. Encouraging staff to turn off lights in such areas is a must. It’s also worth working out watt hours for such areas and seeing if occupancy sensors may be right for your business. 

Refrigeration/cooling

  • Don’t put refrigeration systems next to or near potential heat sources – it will mean more energy is required to cool and bump up costs.
  • Review cellar cooling systems. Most old systems produce just 1KW of energy from 1KW of electricity. Modern efficient cooling systems can more than triple the cooling energy from the same level of electricity. 

Remember, financial help is often available for hospitality businesses looking to achieve carbon reduction. For example The Carbon Trust runs a scheme with Siemens that enables businesses to gain finance for energy efficient technology which can then be offset against the resulting energy savings. 

The biggest piece of advice though is to change the business mindset. See carbon reduction as a business opportunity, not an unwanted irritant. After all, green credentials are becoming increasingly important to hospitality customers too, so taking steps to save money on bills could end up reaping benefits in customers coming to you over the competition. 

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