All entries tagged with “energy”

Water Conservation in the Hospitality Industry

towels.jpgThe US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that hospitality facilities, including hotels and lodgings, use about 15 percent of water designated for commercial usage in the United States. Conserving energy is a main concern for facility managers and now the focus has turned to water management.

According to the EPA, restrooms account for the biggest use of water, accounting for about 30 percent of hotel water use. This is followed by laundry operations and landscaping.

Industry giant, Caesars, has dominated in the energy saving arena. Overall, the company has reduced its water use by seven percent per square foot of indoor space from 2008 to 2012 with plans to continue cutting back. These accomplishments are due to the installation of 10,700 low-flow shower heads that produce 1.8 gallons per minute compared to the average 2.5 gallons per minute. They have also installed low-flow sink aerators, which save an estimated 50.5 million gallons per year.

Caesars also sets an example for energy saving in the laundry room. By installing tunnel washers, the company was able to reduce water consumption in laundry facilities by 30 million gallons per year, predicting annual savings of $135,000 to $218,000.

To cut back on landscaping water usage, Caesars reduced the amount of water on its golf courses, using desert vegetation in some areas opposed to grass. While water is a big problem in Las Vegas, executives at Caesars are turning to new and innovative solutions to reduce energy costs including reusing rain water and extracting water from food waste etc.

As the hotel industry becomes more aware of energy costs, so are guests. By asking guests to opt out of daily linen and towel washing, the American Hotel and Lodging Association estimates a reduction of washing loads by 17 percent! This not only saves water, but also extends the life of linens and towels, reducing replacement costs.

The EPA recognizes the importance of conservation. In 2006 they initiated the WaterSense H2Otel Challenge. The program is designed to encourage hotels to use best management practices that will save water and money, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

The program states that by simply replacing water using fixtures with WaterSense labeled models, the average urban hotel with approximately 150 guest rooms would save nearly 760,000 gallons of water and more than $7,000 in water costs each year. Participating hotels include Courtyard Hotels, Residence Inn, The Ritz-Carlton, Wyndham and Marriotts. To see the full list of participating hotels, click here.

'Tis the Season: Holiday Season Productivity Tips

We are officially in the midst of the holiday season, which means that the art of balancing the stress of gift giving and entertaining with life at the office is being tested. According to the American Management Association, about two-thirds of 600 full-time employees surveyed said they experienced stress during the holiday season. 44 percent of executives similarly say productivity decreases during the holiday season. Workplace consultant Anne Grady says that employee frustration doesn’t come from having too much to do, but rather from unclear expectations. So how can we balance work and play this holiday season? Here are just a few tips:

1. Know and Balance Your Stressors

One of the biggest problems with the holidays is an overload of personal to-do lists interfering with the growing office to-do list. If you’re having a panic moment, regroup and make a list of what takes priority. Dedicate specific times to get your to-do list done and keep your work and personal list separate.

2. Get Flexible At Work

Employers can help boost productivity during work hours by compromising. Understanding the needs of employees can create a better environment and boost numbers over the holiday season. Managers should consider easing up on restrictions during this time of the year, offering incentives for good work and should the question arise – beware of opportunities to work from home. While groveling employees may be a temporary hassle, it’s worth it to keep customers happy.

3. Coordinate Calendars

This is optimal time for PTO. Beware that you don’t cut yourself short in the office by being too vacation happy. Make sure that calendars are aligned and the team understands the needs of the workplace in terms of absences and vacation days. Keep a shared calendar so that if there are any discrepancies – you don’t corner yourself too late.

4. Don’t obsess about hours

You’ve set a plan, you’ve set time off dates, and you’re giving your employees some leg room. Don’t stress about employees taking an extended lunch break or coming in a few minutes late, just be aware of their deadlines and work. If employees are not getting their work done, regardless of their time in the office, you will know and be able to act accordingly.

5. Relax!

Tensions in the office this season will show in your customer appreciation. Relax and remember now is the time to be grateful and enjoy your company and work friends. Setting a healthy environment is key to a positive holiday season.

Conserving Energy at Your Facility this Holiday Season

Over the winter holidays, the UGA Facilities Management Division works hard to reduce temperature settings and shut down unneeded heating and cooling systems, contributing to the $100,000 cut back in operating costs each year. Here are several tips on how you can conserve energy at your facility during the holiday season:

Turn Off the Lights
Make sure all lights are turned off when not being used. Make your staff accountable for this move and make a facility-wide effort to turn off the lights when leaving an unoccupied room.

Unplug & Conserve!
Even when electrical equipment is turned off, if it is still plugged into an outlet, it is drawing electric. Turn off equipment when it is not in use.

Use timers for equipment that can be turned off
There’s nothing wrong with using resources! Consider installing timers on equipment that can be shut off on evenings and/or weekends without affecting patient care. Also, check your current equipment for built-in power-saving features.

Encourage task lighting, rather than overhead lighting
During after hours, encourage patients and their visitors to use task lighting, rather than full, overhead lighting. This prevents after hour activities from bothering other patients and lowers energy usage.

Using this advice, Ridgeview Medical Center (RMC) was able to decrease energy use by 6 percent in just 15 months, admitting that the first few quarters of the trial they saw only minimal or negative change.


6 (Easy) Steps to Cooling Summer Energy Expenses

During the summer of 2011, Guilford County Schools in Greensboro, NC cut back big time to reduce their utilities cost. The district re-formatted their work week to four 10-hour days during the summer months. The district also made an effort to unplug all unnecessary electrical devices, adjust HVAC settings according to occupancy, curb water consumption and turn off unneeded lights. The extensive plan included everyone: team principals, administration, custodians and all school staff. Throughout the months of June, July and August – the district reduced energy costs by $508,413. Imagine what small changes like this could do for your facility.

FirstFuel, a company specializing in building energy analytics, monitored 60 million square feet of commercial buildings across the US. They report that America could save $17 billion just by making simple behavior changes and minimal alterations to operations as shown in the Guildford County School District.  

During summer months, energy-use is at an all-time high. Weather is a key energy driver as summer cooling systems account for 13-percent of total energy usage in commercial buildings nationwide – there is no better time to implement an energy saving plan.

Below are some simple methods to cool climbing summer energy expenses:

  1. Measure and Compare your expenses. Get a general idea of what others in your industry are spending on energy costs and how those expenses vary throughout the year. Are other commercial buildings doing something that you’re not to keep energy bills down low? Compare your facility’s energy usage to similar buildings with this tool.
  2. Regular maintenance is key. Routine inspection of cooling systems before the summer season will save you time, money and discomfort. Be sure to have an air conditioning professional check your system along with inspect ductwork and seal leaks. Replace air filters frequently and dust outside units before heavy use. Also, ask your AC professional to calibrate your thermostat – make sure that you are getting an accurate reading and that cooling equipment is working correctly.
  3. Apply occupancy monitors. There’s no need for cooling systems to maintain the same settings 24-hours per day, especially when facilities are empty at certain hours. Consider occupancy monitors that adjust temperature depending on habitation of the facility. Just a couple of degrees can save a huge amount, for every degree increase in temperature over a 12-hour period, you can save 1.5 percent in cooling energy costs.
  4. Consider upgrading lighting systems. All of that talk about LED lighting wasn’t for nothing. Save money by replacing incandescent bulbs with long lasting LED lights. This lighting upgrade runs at an estimated energy efficiency of 80% to 90% compared to the traditional incandescent bulb which runs at just 20% energy efficiency – wasting 80% of electric energy. That wasted energy is converted into heat – a big negative for the summer months!

  5. Be aware of peak-demand charges! Utility companies define a “demand charge” as a charge that “is determined using the maximum demand (or “peak demand”) occurring during the monthly billing period.” This charge is a fixed rate calculated on a per kilowatt basis. There are several strategies to cut back on peak-demand charges: first, be sure to establish the facility’s load profile identifying high-energy use equipment. Initiate an Energy Management System (EMS) that creates a sequence or schedule for high-energy equipment avoiding peak energy use. Consider using backup generators to power equipment that cannot be shifted away from peak demand periods.
  6. Work as a team! None of these strategies will work without the help of employees. Implement a goal within your team so that everyone feels as though they are a part of this reduction – share the responsibility! Encourage employees to turn off lights, turn off personal devices using electricity during the day and unplug things that aren’t being used! This is a team wide effort!

We want to know: what are you doing to keep your energy usage lower during the summer months? How are you encouraging your team to get involved and help alleviate the extra costs of higher energy usage? Email us at to share your ideas!




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