Mr. Parisi

Eco-Friendly Practices

Energy Benchmarking: Tracking Real Time Energy Usage

By Scott Parisi, President, EcoGreen Energy Solutions

What Does Energy Mean to You?

Electricity usage usually receives the most focus as the monthly statement is normally the largest utility bill a hotelier pays. Natural Gas and/or Propane runs a close second when looking at energy expenses due to the large consumption of hot water demand for guest room showers, on-site laundry operations, seasonal heating loads and pool operations. Water consumption historically has not had the attention paid to it, as it deserves. In my future time on this earth, I do not foresee a day where we will not have the ability to produce electric or have access to fossil fuels. Conversely, we have already witnessed regions throughout the United States where we have had water shortages driving dramatic increases in water and sewer costs. Water is energy. And it should be a key driver in any facility benchmarking or sustainability reduction plan.

"You Can't Manage What You Don't Measure"

This is a phrase broadly utilized throughout the hospitality industry regarding energy and water benchmarking. This mantra has fueled most of the industry leaders to unveil tools over the past several years. Major brands now allow, and in many instances, require their individual properties to report their electric, fossil fuels and water usage. Almost all of these platforms go well beyond energy bench marking and conservation planning to include waste management, office supply conservation, energy saving project planning, and suggest environmentally friendly best practices.

Beyond the utilization of these brand tools to drive down your energy bills, this same information is becoming critical when responding to RFPs (request for proposals) and winning business for your property.

Below are examples of programs available across the industry:

  • Hilton Worldwide properties depend on LightStay a proprietary system developed to calculate and analyze environmental impact. LightStay measures energy and water use and waste and carbon output at around the globe. Although all Hilton Properties are required to use Lightstay they offer the tool free of charge to their owners and operators. Hilton Worldwide earned global certification for Energy Management (ISO 50001) for all hotels and corporate offices using LightStay.

  • Hyatt Thrive is focused on reduction of energy use, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per square meter and water per guest night in each region by 25% before 2020 compared to 2006. In water stressed areas, they aim to reduce water use per guest night by 30%.

  • Wyndham Worldwide utilizes Wyndham Green Toolbox, a proprietary, online environmental management system to manager their energy, emissions, water and waste performance. The Wyndham Green Toolbox allows both owned and managed properties, as well as independently owned and operated franchises properties to track, measure and report with no cost to franchise hotels

  • The IHG Green Engage system has four levels of certification that our hotels can achieve and those achieving Level 3 certification or above can reduce energy use by up to 25%. Level 1 is a requirement for all IHG hotels.

  • Fairmont Hotels & Resorts embraces environmentally sustainable business practices with their Energy and Carbon Management Program, which provides each Fairmont property with the necessary tools to monitor, measure, and report GHG emissions.

  • Marriott adopted and implemented Green Hotels Global™ online source of information on the environmental performance of their hotels. The technology and program was developed and is managed by The Carbon Accounting Co.

Benchmarking and Analysis Tools

If you don't happen be affiliated with one of these proactive brands offering an energy measuring tool, you can investigate using Energy Star Portfolio Manager. Created by the EPA (Energy Protection Agency), ESPM provides the user an Energy Star facility performance rating. The system has become very user friendly within the past few years and is worth a second look if you became frustrated using it in the past. This free tool allows hotels of all types to benchmark and track energy, water & waste performance. Its ranking score factors in facility specific hospitality metrics - including facility size, room count, and parking facilities. Further, the score is automatically weighted based on location's weather & fuel generation source for power (eg coal, hydro, nat gas etc).

Taking this a step further with user friendliness, there are numerous third party dashboard products available to allow a single property or an entire portfolio, record and evaluate energy usage. Key tools you should look for when evaluating a dashboard tool are: to insure easy loading of data, automatic alerts and report exporting. Pricing is a major factor when comparing competitors, as some have a larger up front commitment with lower ongoing maintenance and hosting fees. Others provide easy entry pricing, but higher reoccurring fees.

In my day-to-day operations, we (EcoGreen Energy Solutions) manage hundreds of meters. We have uncovered and addressed multiple inefficiencies over the past decade just from monitoring. Quite a few of the situations uncovered have not always visible to the operational team. For example, at an Illinois property, we uncovered a sixty percent failure of toilet flappers in a hotel not even a year old. Multiple times our team has identified and repaired leaky washing machine gaskets causing hot water to flow directly into trench drains. A quick tip - washers are our first go to when we witness spikes in natural gas and water simultaneously. Finally, last summer we identified a faulty cooling tower repair where a water drain valve was left slightly open by the technician.

Although these examples above are successes, the downside has always been that it is reactionary in nature- relying upon monthly utility statements. Due to the infrequency of the data, it may take 30 to 45 days to recognize a potential problem on the next utility statement.

Looking to the Future

Real Time Energy Management (RTEM) uses technologies to collect data about a building, and uses that data to optimize the building's energy usage, meters, and other equipment, along with data analytics and building data information services, show how the building is actually performing at any point in time.

For larger facilities these tools have been available for years - constructed with robust building automation systems - allowing the facility manager to monitor on the heartbeat of the building. These BAS are costly, require specific end-use compatible equipment and inherently geared towards the larger, full service hotels that have more complex HVAC & lighting systems. Up until just a few years ago real time energy monitoring was cost prohibited for select and limited service properties.

On this front, the residential home industry is advancing ahead with technologies introduced by NEST, Amazon, Apple HomeKit and Google Home. Over the past couple of years, these technologies have been allowing home owners not only to monitor and but also interact with energy and water consuming appliances.

Guest Room EMS

The introduction of occupancy based energy management systems(EMS) to control in-room fan coil units, PTAC's or VTAC's have become a proven tool to control energy across limited and full service hotels. We have had most success with energy management systems that provide a web-based platform allowing monitoring, remote settings control, smart phone applications and automatic alerts. This allows real time monitoring of every rooms occupancy, sensor battery levels, set points and ongoing usage trends.

Lighting Controls

In addition to taking control of your HVAC operation, we now also are able to introduce LED lighting controls throughout the property. Ranging from basic stand alone occupancy sensors through the sophisticated centralized lighting scene control panels, these technologies allow for dimming control and/or turning off unoccupied areas in your public space. The implementation is now easier and cost effective as ever with the introduction of wireless technologies.

Utility Smart Meters are becoming more common, but are not always open to you to access the data from the utility service provider. Notably, some utilities like PG&E in California automatically offer direct feeds of data to Energy Star Portfolio Manager. It is worth inquiring with your utility if they offer such a service, or if they participate in the Green Button Project, which allows a single click to manually, download your utility consumption.

There are companies that specialize in the gathering and recording of utility data either through data meters installed on a hotel's incoming meters or directly from the utility when available. I spoke with Angela Sun, Director of Marketing for Urjanet, which offers a cloud-based platform that seamlessly connects to utilities to acquire and normalize disparate utility bill and interval data. Angela states "More and more customers our now requesting either real-time or day-behind interval data as a next step in advancing their energy management programs. With more granular data sets, organizations are able to make more refined operational improvements and plan effective energy initiatives."

For new construction hotels, the cost of integrating the technology needed to capture interval data is usually palatable and has a healthy return on investment. We always work closely with local electric utility to insure we can gain access to their smart meter data. It is also important to insure we are selecting the correct water and gas meters. The main increase in cost to integrate into an existing hotel is normally the cost of purchasing and replacing the water and gas meters. In the coming year or two we expect to see the technology for real time monitoring to evolve, become more competitive, and the norm in the hospitality industry.

References:

http://news.hiltonhhonors.com/assets/HHNR/docs/lightstay_FactSheet6.16.10.pdf http://www.cr.hiltonworldwide.com/environments/#sthash.WIsL7qYG.dpuf
https://www.ihg.com/content/us/en/about/green-engage
https://thrive.hyatt.com/content/dam/Minisites/hyattthrive/2016-Images/29-2020-Vision-Graphic.pdf
http://wyndhamworldwide.com/category/green-toolbox
http://www.fairmont.com/corporate-responsibility/environment/energy/
https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/Real-Time-Energy-Management

Scott Parisi , President/Owner of EcoGreen Energy Solutions, a firm that develops energy and sustainability projects within the hospitality industry including new construction projects and renovations. Mr. Parisi’s team is currently an owner agent overseeing the development of multiple new midscale branded hotels developments. Mr. Parisi founded EcoGreen to motivate hoteliers into contributing to meaningful conservational measures by reducing operational expenses through Green Initiatives. EcoGreen’s brand was developed and launched in 2008 with a sole focus on reducing the energy and water usage within the hospitality industry. Today EcoGreen manages the use of energy and water for hundreds of hospitality facilities. Mr. Parisi can be contacted at 888-229-0213 x801 or sparisi@eg-es.com Please visit http://www.eg-es.com for more information. Extended Bio...

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