Here at City Lodge we really enjoy doing our part to help the environment and so these past few years we have been busily engaged in making many environmentally friendly changes to our hotels. A recent cherry on the top was having our energy-saving efforts afford us a spot in the finals of the Commercial Category of the 2013 Eskom ETA awards for energy efficiency. Winners will be announced on 4 December and we are holding every thumb around! Here’s what we have been doing over the past while that has made us eligible for this prestigious award …
City Lodge’s Sustainable Energy Management Project
Two years ago we set up the project to reduce the overall energy consumption of the City Lodge Hotel Group by at least 20% before 2013. We felt that this was a measurable objective and also one that tied in with our goal of being an industry leader in environmentally sustainable practices. We looked forward to reducing the group’s carbon footprint.
The project was split into two areas of focus: operational efficiencies and facility efficiencies. The first is about procedures, standards, policies, and the general behaviour of staff and guests. We started, for example, to change when and how we would do our laundry, how we would clean our rooms, and which lights we would keep on during the day. The latter is about implementing new and feasible technologies to reduce our consumption patterns in all existing hotels. We changed all our downlights to LED technology, for example, and installed heat pumps to heat our water instead of using energy-intensive boilers.
In 2011, the project kick started with the installation of electricity meters in each hotel. These meters generate online reports that help us to understand the consumption patterns of all our hotels. With this knowledge in hand, we were able to roll out a programme to all the hotels, educating management and staff on energy and how to use it efficiently. We also established energy management committees. The drive of this stage as can be seen was primarily on awareness and behavioural changes.
Implementing and improving …
The next step was to conduct extensive research based on the data generated by the meters. This done we were able to move forward with the facilities phase, which commenced in 2012 and affected all 52 of South Africa’s City Lodges. This involved the installation of 35 000 GU10 downlights, 11 000 other energy-saving lights, and 15 heat pumps. The year beginning July 2013 is seeing a further 20 heat pumps installed and with this we anticipate achieving the desired 20% reduction goal. In 2013/2014 we will also once again communicate the efficiency message to all of our 1,500 employees by means of a game show and quarterly site visits.
In terms of stats – since it’s the stats that placed us on Eskom’s radar! – our baseline energy consumption at the beginning of the project was calculated as 41 824 097kWh. The implementation of the project saw energy consumption reduced to 36 854 643 kWh in 2011/2012 and 35 214 147 kWh in this year. This represents a reduction of 15.8% overall. In the same period City Lodge Hotel Group’s occupancy has increased year on year from 56% to 63%, so that makes the savings all the more remarkable. The savings from all our efforts and changes translates into a carbon footprint reduction of 6 543 tons of CO2; this is equivalent to removing 1,261 cars from the road for one year or planting 654 173 trees!
Project already receiving recognition …
The group’s Sustainable Energy Management Project was in fact highly commended by the hospitality industry at the 2012 FEDHASA Imvelo Awards, it received a commendation from the Minister of Tourism, and its success has been documented in various industry publications on a national basis. Clearly the next and logical step is for us to win the December ETA awards!