Mala Singh – Chairperson & MD -PEC Greening India points out commercial spaces and especially the hotel industry needs to implement smart measures to ensure that energy is utilised efficiently in their respective premises.
Why is energy efficiency even more important in contemporary times?
As we strive to be a developed nation the onus is on us to use energy more responsibly. Among the commercial spaces a large chunk of the hotels and hotel chains are major consumers of energy, more so because they are operational 24×7, 365 days a year, besides that India’s current growth potential for hotel construction is set to increase. This in turn will continue to result in an increasing energy consumption trend so it is essential to address this situation.
As we head towards an energy efficient and sustainable future we need to abide by the green building approach. Green building approach helps to reduce energy consumption a lot from planning of design level and green purchase process using energy efficient materials and technologies adds more value to achieve energy efficiency. Then best practices in operation and maintenance of hotel facilities, it’s all services and utilities by facility management team and Engineers if operational team can contribute together to achieve energy saving objectives and carbon footprint reduction
How does one go about implementing energy efficiency?
It is a bit like budgeting if I may use the term. When we try to limit our monetary expenses we first try to identify where our money is getting used or misused. In a similar vein to attain energy efficiency an energy assessment is necessary. The assessment allows you to identify the present energy situation within the hotel and raise a red flag wherever the consumption is high.
Likewise energy saving opportunities can be identified based on the assessment report. There may be a number of methods to attain energy efficiency but the assessment will also allow you to select what works best in the given situation.
Especially in luxury hotels and in the business of luxury otherwise, there is a misconception that correlates increased energy use with improved quality of services. I believe hotels can reduce the use of energy without compromising the high quality of services for guests and in the process benefit from cost savings. Managing energy use in the hotel is the first step towards this.
Energy management helps in controlling the operating costs. This in turn adds to the profitability and increases the annual turnover of the hotel. The savings attained can be skillfully used to offset costs arising out of employee appraisals and purchasing additional amenities.
After the preliminary diagnosis what is the way ahead?
Using Energy management systems (EMS) is a good way to address the issue. An energy management system (EMS) can save 10 per cent to 40 per cent on electric bills. An EMS in your hotel can enhance your existing operations by allowing you to control various aspects of your energy use including lighting, and HVAC from a central point, reducing error intensity caused by manual operation of these services. It has been noted the EMS have been proven to deliver two to five year paybacks.
It makes a lot of sense to put our common sense to good use, like for example the reception area, the reception area is one of the key areas where energy efficiency can be achieved. Usually in luxury hotel the reception area is soaked in grandeur, so much so more that it is easy to overstep in terms of excesses. Lighting is often more than necessary because of ostentatious design, so let’s say if the desired ostentation can be achieved using 20 lights there is no point in using 100 lights, so right at the design stage this issue must be addressed. Similarly when the occupancy is low rooms should be rented out on the virtue of their location.
In summer, rooms on the east or north sides of the building will be cooler. Also, corner rooms with two outside exposures will be warmer. Rooms close to heat source should be avoided. This would certainly help reduce air conditioning load and result in energy savings.
Likewise Energy Bills can serve as an essential reminder too. On basis of the bills generated the Department Heads can be briefed on the importance of energy efficiency. Any excess usage of energy can be tracked, investigated, analysed and a proper resolution can be arrived at.
Actually these are few methods to tackle the problem, and there is much more which the designer, architect and the energy consultant need to be well aware of. All the measures go a long way in ensuring the efficient use of energy.
Do we have the desired policy in place which encourages energy efficiency?
We do have it in place. Christened as ECBC (Energy Conservation Building Code) the code developed by Ministry of Power and Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), prescribes the energy performance standards for new commercial buildings to be constructed across India.