Boston’s Westin Copley Place upgrades its HVAC system and reaps savings.
February 14, 2014
Excluding labor, energy is typically the highest cost that hoteliers face and is the single fastest-growing operating cost in the hospitality industry. According to Flex Your Power and ENERGY STAR statistics, the hospitality industry spends approximately $4 billion per year on energy, with electricity accounting for 60 to 70 percent of the utility costs. And the HVAC system accounts for more than 50 percent of a lodging property’s energy costs. All of which significantly affect the bottom line.
The Environmental Protection Agency has calculated the associated cost savings and concluded that even a 10 percent improvement in energy efficiency is equivalent to increasing average daily room rates by 62 cents and $1.35 for limited-service and full-service hotels, respectively.
Energy Efficiency and Hotels’ Bottom Line
In the hotel sector, reducing energy costs while continuing to meet the diverse needs of guests, owners and corporate requirements is challenging but by no means impossible. Energy efficiency provides hotel owners and operators cost savings that benefit the bottom line. Efficiency also improves the service of capital equipment, enhances guest comfort and demonstrates a commitment to climate stewardship. Environmental friendliness can be a market strength for a hotel brand, which can lead to a better reputation among consumers.
A report by Deloitte, “Risks and Rewards for Building Sustainable Hotels,” cites that both financial incentives and consumer demand are likely to encourage the hospitality industry to continue developing more environmentally friendly hotels, resorts, spas and convention centers. According to the report, “Travelers are increasingly considering sustainability in making travel plans. Business travelers increasingly consider a hotel’s sustainability in making their selections, and 40 percent of those surveyed are willing to pay a premium for it.”
Companies in the lodging industry have realized that environmentally sound practices not only help the environment but can also lead to cost reductions, business expansion and profit growth.
Westin Copley Place
One such company, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, is dedicated to integrating enlightened environmental practices and sustainability principles into all aspects of its business strategy. By collaborating with hotel owners, franchisees, suppliers and business partners, the company actively works to reduce the environmental impact of hotel operations. The company recently set a target of reducing its energy consumption by 30 percent and reducing its water consumption by 20 percent by the year 2020. The goals are company-wide and apply to Starwood-owned and managed hotels.
Westin, one brand of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, incorporated a number of sustainable elements during a renovation of Westin Copley Place in Boston. This 803-room, 37-story hotel is not only determined to provide guests with a phenomenal stay, but the management also understands its responsibility to the environment. The hotel is a recipient of the prestigious Green Key Award in 2010 and one of four hotels in Massachusetts to be recognized as a Green Seal certified hotel.
Glenn Ralfs, Westin Copley Place’s director of engineering and an industry veteran, is constantly on the lookout for ways to improve energy efficiency. He recently participated in an upgrade to the hotel’s HVAC system by installing energy-efficient motors to the heating and cooling systems in the guestrooms. This entailed replacing existing motors with Regal Genteq Eon 42 ECM motors in all 803 guest rooms as a way to provide improved guestroom temperature resulting in a more satisfying guest experience.
Hydronic fan coils are heating and cooling devices that utilize hot and/or cold water as a thermal source. That water is typically provided by a central system, consisting of a boiler, chiller and other ancillary equipment. Fan coils are extremely quiet and reliable, have low operating costs and remarkably long life cycles. The Westin Copley Place utilizes a two-pipe system which circulates chilled water to provide cooling and an electric strip for heating.
“The benefits of this system are threefold: increased guests’ comfort, energy savings and motor controllability,” says Mike Rosenkranz, Gexpro energy specialist. Gexpro, an electrical distribution company, specializes in energy efficiency solutions which range from lighting, power quality, solar, energy management, drives and motors. Gexpro teamed up with JK Energy Solutions, a provider of energy efficiency services, to engineer a turnkey solution to help the Westin Copley Place achieve its energy efficiency goals.
The designers expect the guestroom energy management system is 80 percent more energy-efficient than the previous HVAC system and plan on saving the property an estimated 400,000 kWh annually. Additionally, due to the high kWh savings, the property expects a return on investment in approximately 2.3 years.
“In a hospitality property, unlike in some other commercial buildings, updated HVAC systems must be achieved with a high priority on quiet operation and good air quality to complete the guest experience,” says Ralfs. “Additionally, as the director of engineering, I need to be knowledgeable of ways to reduce our energy costs and consumption; ECM motors are an excellent way to meet all of these objectives.”
- Joel Hill, “Boosting HVAC energy efficiency,” Lodging, February 13, 2013.
- www.energystar.gov/ia/business/EPA_BUM_Full.pdf (accessed 10/10/13).
- The Staying Power of Sustainability, Deloitte Publication, 2008.