Few, if any, suppliers have conducted large-scale surveys of hoteliers to better understand their energy and water management efforts. MACH Energy, a provider of energy and water management software services and solutions, recently conducted a survey that reached out to more than 5,000 industry professionals. Wei-En Tan, Ph.D., Vice President of Research at MACH Energy, told me there were about 1,000 respondents but only about 300 that completed all of the survey. The survey is available for downloading. Be sure to check it out. There were a number of interesting findings detailed in the survey report. For example, while 61 percent of respondents reported their hotels ran a sustainability program, the success of these programs remained unclear. In fact, 42 percent of those with programs did not know if their program was achieving savings. Tan told me that in some hotels the idea of a sustainability program is a linen/towel reuse program. If that is the case, many are not even measuring the positive impact of not having to wash linens and towels.
Twenty-nine percent of respondents said they did not have a sustainability program, and another 7 percent were unaware if a program existed. Among respondents who had implemented energy and water efficiency and sustainability measures, 80 percent listed cost reduction as their primary motivator, followed by interests or requirements of guests (39 percent) and Energy Star scores or LEED requirements (30 percent). Jon Moeller, CEO of MACH Energy, told me that while 92 percent of respondents knew the general sizes of their common areas, 30 percent did not know the utility costs tied to the common areas, showing areas for improvement in reducing usage. As many have said, you cannot monitor what you do not measure.
Thirty percent of respondents reported that their hotels used energy management software (EMS), and 65 percent reported that their hotels had no EMS. Among the respondents whose hotels reportedly had EMS, 68 percent were actually confusing EMS with a building automation system or some other product. Truth be told, when I see “EMS”, I think “Energy Management System.” It is easy to see how folks can get confused by acronyms. “There seems to be a great opportunity to introduce a better understanding of EMS to the lodging industry,” the survey said.
Granted, the 2016 Hotel Industry Survey: Energy and Water Management Best Practices was created in part to serve the interests of MACH Energy. That said, it did unveil some fascinating—or, maybe concerning—findings. For example, for the surveyed hotel professionals, energy (or water) management activities did not occupy a great portion of their time. Fifty-eight percent of respondents spent just two hours or less a month on them.