8 Top Tips to Reduce Resorts’ Footprints
Easy and sustainable changes can minimize waste and save money.
Reducing energy usage and waste doesn’t just make sense for the world, it also saves money. In 2008 alone, energy-efficient upgrades netted consumers more than $3.1 billion in savings. Brian Bruno, head of the RCI Green Council, lays out the realistic strides resorts can make toward lowering their consumption and waste output.
Switch to high-efficiency lightbulbs
Use an Energy Star–certified lightbulb wherever there are opportunities for substitution. By simply changing a bulb, resorts can save upwards of $75 a year. That doesn’t include tax deductions and rebates that can also earn up to six dollars a bulb.
Retrofit water fixtures
Replacing old plumbing fixtures with water-saving ones helps conserve and protect the surrounding community’s water supply while also saving money and energy. The greatest opportunity for resorts is faucets, showerheads and toilets. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), if all U.S. households installed water-efficient fixtures, the country would save more than 3 trillion gallons of water—as well as $18 billion a year.
Look for the label
To find the best bulbs and fixtures, look for the labels provided by the EPA. Its WaterSense program labels ultra-low-flow, highly water-efficient plumbing fixtures that have been independently tested and certified to meet efficiency and performance standards. In addition to being approximately 20 percent more water-efficient than average products, WaterSense-labeled products have been verified to perform “as well as or better than their less efficient counterparts.” The Energy Star label identifies lightbulbs, heating and cooling units, washers, dryers and other appliances that are most efficient and eligible for rebates.
According to Bruno, 60-plus percent of a resort’s energy is consumed by HVAC, lighting and hot water production. “Long-term efforts should focus on these and then try to tie in renewable-energy options, such as solar panels, if financially viable,” Bruno says. HVACs in particular are an investment, and a well-running unit means less money is spent on electricity, heating and cooling costs. Unmaintained units need to work 20 percent harder to produce the same amount of cooling or heating as a well-maintained machine.
Survey the property
Waste may be hiding in plain sight. Aside from water and lighting fixtures, examine a building’s envelopeor air leaks in which cool air could be escaping. Take advantage of naturally lit areas during times of day when the sun is high and electric lighting isn’t needed. “In certain common areas, passive lighting can improve efficiency and provide better guest comfort than bulbs,” Bruno says.
Plan for sustainability
“Introduce sustainability and energy efficiency into the capital planning to help select more energy-efficient larger capital items, such as HVAC systems,” Bruno says. Newer efficient heating and cooling systems will produce long-term savings for resorts, especially when coupled with rebates or incentives and a habitual maintenance plan, not to mention the money saved on avoiding the additional cost to retrofit in the long run.
Look to owners and guests
Ask for their feedback and see what’s most feasible for the resort. Bruno recommends a linen-reuse program, which offers guests the option to reuse their linens and towels. When guests participate, resorts save money on reduced water, energy and detergent consumption, replacement costs for sheets and towels, and labor. “Have information regarding sustainability best practices available,” Bruno says. “We find that promoting environmental efforts is well received by guests.”
Start a “green team”
“Managing the resort’s sustainability initiatives is a great way to get guests and employees engaged,” Bruno says. A dedicated team can track improvements, consistency and ensure long-term savings are captured. “It’s also a way to train staff on ways to turn off electronics in guest rooms when possible,” Bruno adds. “These little practices add up to major savings.”
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