Lowest Hanging Fruit

Mark Mortellaro, CEO

Sunday, May 24, 2015

We posted the article below in our Winter 2009 GLE Newsletter with the permission of Mr. Glenn Hasek from Green Lodging News (no affiliation). In hindsight it still amazes me how so many companies, big and small, are not taking advantage of simple additional bottom line profits by plucking this "Lowest Hanging Fruit"  Are decision makers really considering the old adage of "It's too Good to be True?"

When Glenn published this article in April of 2009 our systems saved money through decreased runtimes, had expedient ROIs, extended equipment life and reported some basic information that streamlined staff responsibilities. Today is a different day, the systems still pay for themselves as fast as any other product in the market, regardless of what and how many state their returns. With a true ROI of approximately 24 months, data that validates the returns and a decade+ life expectancy, how can the systems be overlooked? They send alerts to authorized personnel often avoiding a guest call. They will notify staff of issues that could be catastrophic without warning, in example, freezing pipes or mold and mildew infestation by high and low room temperature extremes.

"When I began covering the lodging industry in 1989, one of the first companies I became familiar with sold a guestroom energy management system. At the time I was in awe of the technology. These systems are common in lodging properties today but most hotels and resorts still do not use them. That baffles me. Energy management systems that incorporate sensors, controllers and switches can power down HVAC systems and even lighting when guests leave the room. With most guestroom energy management systems, heating and cooling systems will run from 20 percent to 40 percent less time. That can equate to significant energy savings.

What is preventing more hotels from implementing these systems? I suspect the following: cost, unfamiliarity with available rebate and assistance programs, and lack of education and awareness. Hotel owners typically want a fast ROI but some of these systems can take two years or longer to recover the initial investment. In areas of the country where utility costs are higher, ROI time can be much faster, however. What many owners don't realize is that investment recovery time can also be a lot faster once utility incentives are factored in. Utility companies in a number of states offer substantial incentives. Some vendors even offer programs that eliminate upfront costs. They earn their money from the dollars saved through energy cost reductions. When shopping for a guestroom energy management system, be sure to ask vendors about financing options.

Lack of education and awareness is certainly an obstacle to wide adoption of these systems. If an owner does not attend trade shows, does not closely read trade publications, is not contacted by system vendors, or is not inquisitive about saving energy, there is little chance any action will be taken. How can our industry overcome the education obstacle? Chains certainly can do a better job promoting these systems, especially for new construction projects. Vendors need to do a better job of making their presence known at industry events and in trade publications. I will continue to do what I can to get the message out about the value of these systems. Look for an article soon on Green Lodging News. Really, guestroom energy management systems should be standard in every hotel and resort."

-- On Guestroom Energy Management Systems, Glenn Hasek Blog (Publisher/Editor of Green Lodging News)