Energy Management

The Uncomfortable Truth behind Energy Use.

Rudge Bowen
Chief Operating Officer
WASTE. We seem to be able to generate the most waste ever in mankind’s history. Think of what we threw away in the past – predominantly broken pottery and bones with anything else being bio-degradeable. Now we fill massive holes in the earth with all sorts of manufactured rubbish, and it only seems to be getting worse. Perhaps that’s why the earth is fighting back with viruses and infections that threaten populations – Ash, Oak, Bananas, and of course us.

And then of course there is the insatiable demand for more.  As populations and societies get exposed to the world of consumerism, then everybody wants a fridge, a car, a television and the other trappings of ‘civilised’ life.

This means that we have to generate more power which in turn means that we have to use more of the earth’s resources and generate more pollution in whatever form including heat.

It is an enormous problem to even quantify let alone tackle.

However, much of the energy we use in our daily lives can be reduced.  I’m not suggesting walking everywhere in sackcloth and only eating foraged food, but rather talking about making informed decisions that save a bit.  And if we all did it then the effects would be massive.

Our business is currently focused on the hotel industry.  This is a sector with high energy consumption for a relatively small physical footprint.  The excuse for this high consumption is that the guest comes first, so everything should be ready for when the paying customer requests something.  We have met chefs who insist that all appliances are on and ready throughout the day because their ‘job is to cook’.   I argue that we all have a moral responsibility to consider our effect on the planet and that optimising energy use should be part of our daily routine, just like personal hygiene for example.  In the case of kitchens, this may mean limiting full appliance use to service periods.

Our approach therefore is to understand exactly how, why, where and when power is used within a site.  Our engineers then compare this with their analysis of what needs to be used to deliver the required level of service (per department, per hour of the day, per season).  Of course every hotel manager has to agree with these service levels, but it is truly astounding the savings that have been achieved.  It means that every department (Health & Fitness, Food & Beverage, Conferencing & Banqueting, Housekeeping, Plant etc.) know exactly what was used in any period, and this is reviewed on a daily basis in summary form.  We are effectively reporting on energy consumption as a variable expense, and empowering hotel management to take control of it.

Interestingly, whilst we know that there will be savings to be found, we often do not know where we will find them.  Some hotels have better infrastructure with more efficient plant that others, others have a more energy aware ethos and management style.  But in every site where we have worked we have found significant energy waste and, by empowering staff with the required knowledge of the effect of their actions, we have succeeded in delivering substantial savings.