Use resources efficiently in your hotel
Resource efficiency means getting the most value out of your resources such as energy, water and materials. The benefits for your hotel business include increased profits, improved environmental performance and a positive reputation amongst your customers.
According to Tourism NI, one in three visitors to Northern Ireland would prefer to stay in accommodation that is striving to improve its environmental performance. On top of this 65 per cent of hotels are already taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint. Companies that emphasise that they are environmentally conscious can strengthen repeat business and help to attract new custom.
Improving the efficiency of the resources you use everyday not only means reduced materials bills but reduced energy, labour, transport and waste costs. Cutting these costs can help you maximise profits.
This guide will advise you on how your hotel can achieve efficiency across energy, water, materials and resources. It will outline practical steps you can take to improve resource efficiency and create cost savings for your business.
Energy efficiency in your hotel
Improving energy efficiency can not only save your business money, it can also enhance your hotel's reputation and help in the fight against climate change. You should aim to get the most out of the energy you use on a daily basis as opposed to simply trying to reduce energy use overall, as this mainly depends on occupancy numbers.
It will be helpful to identify areas where your hospitality business uses energy and establish how much you are using. Energy and supplier bills will be useful for this analysis.
Save energy in space heating
Insulating boilers, hot water tanks, pipes, flanges and valves will create energy savings that should deliver returns within a few months. Boilers should be serviced 1-2 times a year, as this can save up to 5 per cent on annual heating costs. Poor energy controls can waste energy, so setting good practice on room temperatures will optimise your heating costs. You should ensure automated controls are set properly, heating is switched off in unused areas and that staff are properly trained. See use heating and hot water systems efficiently.
Hot water efficiency
The optimum temperature for stored hot water is 60°C. This will kill bacteria and is sufficiently warm for use. Ensure that your hot water temperature control indicator is working correctly. Water saving devices can also save on water heating energy, see save water in your hotel.
You should create switch-off policies so that lighting is turned off in unoccupied areas and make staff aware of these rules. Regular maintenance and cleaning of hotel lighting systems can improve their effectiveness and reduce waste. You should try to use energy efficient lamps such as LED bulbs and compact fluorescent lamps. Automatic lighting controls can save 30-50 per cent on lighting costs. See lighting energy efficiency.
Save energy through building fabric
Around two thirds of heat from hotels can be lost through the building fabric - ceilings, floor, walls and windows. Minimise this loss through using insulation, keeping doors closed, closing curtains over-night and draught-proofing.
Save energy in catering facilities
There are a number of ways to reduce energy wastage in kitchens. Only switch on equipment when it is being used. You should try to regularly clean and maintain hotel ventilation systems. Frequently defrost and maintain freezers. Use the correct size of pots and pans when cooking and do not over-fill or keep turned up too high.
Leisure facilities efficiency
If you have a pool, installing a cover can create huge savings by reducing heating and ventilation requirements. Modern filtration systems are more energy efficient and create less waste than traditional sand filters. Ensure leisure facilities are switched off when not in use. You should also consider using a timer.
Alternative and renewable energy
Combined heat and power (CHP) systems run on natural gas and generate electricity while producing heat as a by-product. CHP is most effective when there is a high heat demand, such as when there is a pool. Heat pumps use natural thermal energy sources. They will decrease hotel gas bills, but increase electricity bills, so will be suitable depending on current prices. You might want to consider renewable energy sources including biomass energy, solar photovoltaic, solar thermal and wind.
Save water in your hotel
The first step in improving water efficiency in your hotel is to identify all the areas that use water. This will include water use in food preparation, swimming pools, toilets, showers, grounds maintenance, cleaning and laundry. Next identify how much water your hotel is using. You can check your water bill if it is metered or use sub-metering to track usage. The best way to achieve water efficiency is to avoid using water when it is not required.
There are many opportunities to use less water and adopt more efficient processes. Forward planning, staff training and staff suggestions are all important parts of water efficiency and can contribute to the water reduction.
Save water in guest bedrooms and common toilets
There are a range of shower systems and taps available that minimise water use by either limiting the flow or stopping automatically. Modern low-flush toilets can reduce the water used per flush by more than 50 per cent compared with older styles. Retrofit low-flush devices can also be used. Urinal flush controls such as motion sensors can help avoid flushing when they are not in use.
Catering water efficiency
There are many simple ways to avoid wasting water in the kitchen. Choose hotel kitchen equipment that uses minimal water and check the European Water Label. Operate dishwashers only when they are full and use the economy setting. Avoid using running water to defrost or wash. Keep equipment maintained and drains clean.
Laundry water efficiency
You should only operate washing machines on full loads and at minimal temperatures. Check the European Water Label when buying new machines.
Pool water efficiency
You can modernise swimming pool filtration systems to help minimise water use. Evaporation can lead to increased water consumption. You can reduce this by optimising the temperature and installing a pool cover. Ensure the automatic water top up system is not overfilling the pool.
Save water in grounds maintenance
You should consider minimising the water used for ground maintenance by installing water butts for rainwater reuse. Drought intolerant plants are less demanding on water supplies. Reduce evaporative losses by using mulching and irrigating late at night or early in the morning.
Alternative water sources
For processes that do not require high water quality, such as toilet flushing, some water sources other than mains water can be used. Greywater (the wastewater from bathing and laundries) can be used in your hotel for toilet flushing, landscape watering and laundry to reduce the demand on mains water. Rainwater can be harvested for various uses except drinking and food preparation. A borehole can provide access to local groundwater.
Material efficiency and reducing waste in your hotel
Material efficiency and reducing your waste are directly linked. If you are more efficient with materials in your hotel, less waste will be produced.
There are many ways to improve material efficiency to reduce waste. First you should identify materials used in your hotel. These will be in areas such as guest bedrooms, kitchen, office materials, bar/restaurant and maintenance. Also establish the kinds of waste you produce and identify whether this waste is hazardous or must be separated from other waste.
You should consider green procurement. This simply means choosing to buy products and services for your business that are less harmful to the environment. It includes buying products made from recycled materials and buying goods locally to reduce your carbon footprint. Examples include environmentally friendly versions of stationary, toilet paper, cleaning products and electronics.
Reduce waste of office consumables
As well as procuring green products for office use, there are many ways to reduce the environmental impact of your workplace. Adjust the default setting of printers to print double-sided and black and white. You can also encourage electronic filing instead of printing. Consider using email to send customer invoices and staff pay slips, which will also save on postage money. You could remove general waste desk bins and replace with a recycling station for the whole office. See office resource efficiency.
Cut waste of bedroom and cleaning consumables
You can replace single use toiletries with refillable containers. Half-used toilet rolls from guest bedrooms can be used in staff and communal toilets. Buy cleaning products in bulk and refill small reusable containers such as spray bottles.
Kitchen consumables resource efficiency
You should consider offering a range of restaurant portion sizes to reduce food waste. Ask suppliers to deliver goods in reusable/returnable packaging and serve food with reusable utensils. Dispose of cooking oil responsibly through a recycling firm to avoid pollution. Unserved food can be donated to a food bank.
Waste management in your hotel
You could donate unwanted hotel furniture and IT equipment to charity as opposed to disposing to a landfill. Improve waste segregation for recycling with clearly marked separate bins. Ensure staff are trained to understand waste segregation. Use a compactor or baler to reduce empty space in skips and bins.
Recycling waste in your hotel
Beyond minimising the waste you produce in your hotel, you can further reduce environmental impact by recycling the waste that you do produce. Businesses in the hospitality industry can recycle significant quantities of material. Hotels can reduce the weight of their waste by 16 per cent. This increases to 30 per cent for the waste produced by pubs and up to 98 per cent for nightclubs.
Recycling your waste can:
- lower your waste management costs, especially if you often dispose of heavy materials such as glass
- save space and reduce clutter
- improve your environmental credentials
- reduce your impact on the environment
However, you should still make sure you comply with waste legislation. See duty of care for your waste.
What can your hotel recycle?
Materials that you can recycle include:
- glass bottles and jars
- plastic bottles
- food and drink cans
- printer cartridges
- electrical items
Finding a recycling waste contractor
You should consider the following questions when looking for a waste contractor suitable for your hotel recycling needs:
- What materials will you recycle?
- Do you want the materials collected by the waste contractor, or can you transport them to the waste facility?
- Is the service suitable for the size of your business? If you produce very little waste, you may not need a weekly scheduled collection.
- How will you collect and store the materials for recycling?
- How will you pay for the service? For example, is there an annual charge or a fee each time containers are emptied?
- How will your glass be collected? It will normally be best to separate colours at your site.
Setting up a recycling scheme in your hotel
Once you have found a suitable waste contractor, the next step is to consider how a recycling scheme will work in your business. This includes:
- deciding on the location and labelling of recycling containers
- arranging the collection schedule with the contractor
- employee involvement and training - staff members must understand what materials are being recycled and where they should put them
- launch and promotion - so that staff are clear about when to start using the service
Resource efficiency support for your hotel
Where you can get help, support and advice to improve resource efficiency in your hotel including Invest NI, the Carbon Trust and Love Food, Hate Waste
Invest NI offers assistance to hotels in implementing resource efficiency through information, advice, assessments and funding schemes. Qualifying companies can potentially benefit from:
- free audits
- technical support
- finance to install new resource-saving equipment
- industrial symbiosis services
Contact the Invest Northern Ireland Sustainable Development Team on tel 028 9069 8868, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are a number of other organisations who can provide advice and support to help your hotel become more resource efficient:
- The Energy Saving Trust offers advice and support on energy related matters to the domestic sector.
- Get hints and tips to help you better manage food waste from Love Food, Hate Waste.
- Northern Ireland Water (NI Water) provides information about reducing water use.
- Tourism Northern Ireland (Tourism NI) operates the Green Tourism Scheme. This aims to help you to reduce the environmental impact of your business in addition to reducing costs.
- Sustainable Northern Ireland promotes the principle of sustainability across various sectors.
- Waste Resources and Action Programme (WRAP) offers advice and support on how to manage waste.
- Our guides on environment and efficiency offer a range of advice on environmental management, from how to reduce your business waste to save money to preventing water pollution.
Ten top tips for resource efficiency in your hotel
Follow our ten simple tips that can help you to improve your hotel's resource efficiency and environmental impact.
1. Set a dead band between heating and cooling to ensure both heating and cooling systems are not running at the same time. For example, heating should switch off once temperatures reach 19°C, but cooling shouldn't come on until temperatures reach 24°C, creating a deadband of 19-24°C.
2. Control bedroom temperatures: In winter, have staff turn down the heating in rooms that are not being used that same day. In summer, heating can be turned off completely.
3. Review automatic timed heating settings every month. Manual controls should be avoided as it is easy for staff to forget to adjust these.
4. Cut down on bulbs: In some instances, you may be able to remove one light bulb from a group of several without noticeable effects.
5. Use the microwave for reheating small amounts of food, as it will be more efficient than a conventional oven or hob.
6. Switch to the economy setting on dishwashers and washing machines.
7. Use low temperature cleaning products to reduce the need for hot water.
8. Ask for staff suggestions: Your staff use water and other resources daily, so it is good to get feedback from them. You could offer an incentive for suggestions on where things could be improved.
9. Reuse scrap paper: Provide a "scrap paper" tray to reuse paper in the office.
10. Use clear bags in your waste bin; this will highlight poor recycling practices and allow them to be addressed.