Hotel sector must become more energy efficient

The hotel sector can take steps to reduce its high utility costs by implementing renewable technologies while also seeking to retrofit its lighting and air-conditioning systems, which together account for a significant percentage of electricity use.

According to Aidan Rogers, Public Relations Officer with the Barbados Renewable Energy Association (BREA), the local hotel sector should pay heed to the findings and recommendations coming from a study conducted as a result of the implementation of the Caribbean Hotel Energy Efficiency Action Programme (CHENACT) just a few years ago.

“There would have been a study completed about two years or a year- and-a-half ago by the Caribbean Hotel Energy Action Task Force, and that was a study conducted on the hotel sector in Barbados. The findings from that study indicated [what] we all know – that the hotel sector has repeatedly been indicating that utilities is their primary concern,” Rogers said.

“A research study was even conducted in 2009, and that indicated that utility costs ranked above food and beverage and building maintenance costs. It was their main concern,” Rogers maintained.

“But the CHENACT study indicated that there is almost a 40% saving to be benefited from by the National Hotel Sector (some 96 hotels were surveyed) from just energy retrofits of their air conditioning systems, which coincidentally accounted for almost 50% of their utility costs; and their lighting systems which accounted for 10%” Rogers pointed out.

“These are technologies that we are trying to encourage stakeholders and also financiers to bring on board. So there you can see there is almost a 40% saving that this sector can benefit from, even before you talk about pure renewable energy technology. So these are some of these messages that we want to communicate – that we can start somewhere, on any budget,” BREA’s public relations officer stressed.

The Caribbean Hotel Energy Efficiency Action Programme (CHENACT) was designed to drive Caribbean hotels to implement energy efficient practices and to generate their own renewable energy. The 24-month project sought to help the Caribbean hotel sector move towards energy efficiency. The programme’s objective was to improve the competitiveness of small and medium sized hotels in the Caribbean region through improved use of energy, with the emphasis on renewable energy and micro generation. The pilot project was conducted in Barbados.

The project’s ultimate goal was to make the CHENACT participants eligible for the Climate Investment Fund (CIF), managed by the World Bank and regional banks such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), for programmes that can show transformation towards a low carbon foot print. The fund (approximately US$5 billion) could be used for the financing and final implementation of relevant projects. Progress on CHENACT’s implementation to date suggests that detailed energy audits were conducted in 30 hotels in Barbados and walk through assessments conducted in 35 hotels. Information is however lacking on the number of hotels which took direct steps to reduce high energy consumption or implement renewable technologies to drive costs down.