Tourist sector plays an important role regarding energy consumption. Bars, restaurants and hotels need to make high and constant use of electric energy in order to fulfil their activity accurately.

According to hotels, the greatest amount of energy consumption derives directly from the use of heating and ventilation systems, lighting and from the production of hot water. The main problem of this substantial use resides both in the economic and the environmental field, since the higher consumption, the greater the emissions of polluting agents will be.

Guidelines for a sustainable hotel

Aiming to reduce this consumption level, the Technological Hotel Institute (ITH, for its abbreviation in Spanish) has created a route map by establishing a set of recommended guidelines in order that a hotel becomes more sustainable, efficient and self-sufficient, energetically speaking:

  1. Training employees. To establish a “good practice manual” concerning energy conservation, where the procedures to follow on the subject are defined and additional training is offered to all members of the organisation in this field. Instructing employees requires an almost non-existent investment; however, savings that can be reached are very high.
  2. Revising agreements with energy traders. Being aware of the contracted powers or the real need of the facilities can be helpful when adjusting and reducing the hotel energy consumption.
  3. Using energy consumption measurement tools. As the ITH indicates, “in order to save, we have to know first where to act upon”. By incorporating advanced measurement systems, it is possible to have greater control and monitoring of consumption. These devices take into consideration climate variables, that is to say that if it is warm on a winter’s day, they will not make unnecessary use of heating systems.
  4. Reducing water consumption. Thanks to the installation of systems such as shower flow restrictors or dual flush toilets, it is possible to reduce the water volume that is required without depriving clients of the comfort that is expected within a hotel.
  5. Having efficient or low consumption lighting systems. Lighting systems in hotels operate a great number of hours per day, so when exchanging incandescent traditional bulbs for LEDs, considerable savings on the short term will be achieved, with a very low investment nevertheless. It is also advisable to install presence detector systems in order to prevent lights from remaining lit when it is not necessary.
  6. HVAC systems. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems have always been an essential aspect of hotels; by replacing those with more energy efficient appliances (heat recovery systems, for instance), savings will increase notably, minimising the impact such equipment has on the environment.
  7. Installation of energy-efficient pumping systems. These systems are necessary for the proper functioning of air-conditioning, heating or tap water equipment, and they represent up to 70% of total energy consumption in hotels. If such appliances are replaced with others more efficient, besides reaching higher savings, it would be possible to recover the investment in just a few years. As a matter of fact, the ITH has developed a pilot project for Spanish hotels due to the high success obtained in other countries.
  8. Turning to renewable energies. Energies such as solar, biomass or geothermal to produce hot water in bathrooms may entail a high level of energy conservation, considering that their impact on the environment is fully non-existent. The aim is that hotels in the near future turn to this type of energies and they would be able to produce their own energy, that is to say, they could be self-sufficient and would not need to resort to electricity. This will make hotels much more profitable keeping pace with fair ecology.
  9. Building enclosure system. It is necessary that the building envelope is in perfect condition and that the possible cracks and fissures are repaired in order to prevent leaks and temperature transfers. However, the envelope is not the only element to which we have to pay attention. Doors and windows also serve as insulating elements, avoiding temperature transfers between the interior and the exterior. It is necessary to have windows with double glazing or a system to break thermal bridging. As for doors, it would be advisable that hotels install automatic doors, since they guarantee the level of tightness required to prevent leaks and temperature transfers, particularly those derived from inattention when being closed.

A self-sufficient hotel has to be based on the assumption of sustainability, which is why a higher use of renewable energy sources becomes indispensable, since they limit the use of conventional electric energy, being able to earn, in this way, the green or sustainable hotel emblem.

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