Full energy savings need the whole building approach

Whole building approach to energy saving: solar, LED, insulation

Whole building approach to energy saving: solar, LED, insulation

Hoteliers are always looking to make energy savings, but in this Talking Point blog, Graham Buckley of Happy Energy says you need an integrated ‘whole building’ approach to energy efficiency if you want to deliver maximum impact.

There has been a huge shift in the UK in the way businesses in the tourism sector look at energy usage. Much of this has been driven by the nationally publicised and much-criticised annual energy price hikes; a recession that has made people stop and think about the real costs to business and the savings that can be made; alongside initiatives and incentives such as the Feed in Tariff and the Renewable Heat Incentive that have brought solar PV, biomass boilers and wind turbines into the spotlight.

The tourism sector is a massive user of energy – hotels in particular – which gives hotel owners and operators of everything from a small private hotel to a major chain the opportunity to cut their usage, reduce costs, and in some cases make money - and do all of this without impacting the customer experience.

But to make a really positive difference, hoteliers should not look at energy efficiency opportunities in isolation but instead take an integrated approach that looks at whole buildings.

Of course, any attempt to save energy and reduce costs and wastage should be applauded and encouraged, but for those hoteliers wanting to make a real impact, the benefits of a Whole Building approach to energy efficiency should be embraced.

In principal, energy efficiency should not be about fitting or retro-fitting the latest technologies in isolation. It should be a top to bottom review of the way a building operates, how it is used and how it uses energy, with relevant solutions applied once the full energy picture has been formed.

It is the combination of new technologies, small improvements and a holistic whole-building strategy that will yield the big results - and create the route to truly significant building energy efficiency.

It should pay energy dividends to use a company that has the expertise and experience to undertake a comprehensive review. An energy review covers areas such as:

  • Understanding the business and identifying opportunities: This step involves extensive information gathering to form a comprehensive view of the building and the business; performing a comprehensive energy study, looking at existing energy consumption and occupants’ usage behaviour, with the objective of creating a baseline model. It covers every element of energy usage from insulation to lighting to heating right through to improving the working environment.
  • Evaluating – where inefficiencies exist and where integrated savings can be made.
  • Recommending – the right solutions for the business that will bring the best integrated savings
  • Implementing – fitting the measures that will bring energy saving benefits
  • Measuring – reporting the post-fit energy savings being achieved and for the client reaping the rewards of the Feed in Tariff (FiT) and Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) payments where relevant.

What measures can be introduced will be determined by the initial energy assessment. Key solutions could include:

Led Lighting – providing significant energy savings as a result of very long lifetime usage, low energy consumption - around 10 times cheaper than incandescent bulbs and around half the running costs of a compact fluorescent bulb - lower temperatures reducing air conditioning costs, low maintenance, better quality light.

Solar photovoltaic systems can help reduce electricity bills as well as provide an income through the government’s Feed-in Tariff scheme. If you have a roof which predominantly faces south, your property may be ideally suited and you could receive a return on your investment of between 10-15% in addition to reducing your energy bills and carbon footprint.

Heat pumps can provide heating and hot water for your building by either extracting heat from the air or from a ground source loop. Powered by electricity, these systems are a perfect partner for a solar PV system, enabling you to benefit from free electricity and heat. Heat pumps also deliver payments through the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive.

Insulation - Many older buildings will benefit from an insulation upgrade and this should be the first place that businesses look to save energy. Insulation upgrades could take several forms including:

  • Loft insulation
  • Flat roof insulation
  • Cavity wall insulation
  • Solid wall external or internal insulation
  • Draught proofing of doors and windows
  • Floor insulation

Biomass boiler - this burns either wood chips or wood pellets and is extremely efficient with low or zero carbon emissions if the CO2 absorbed by the tree is taken into account. When correctly designed, biomass boilers can run for several months before the fuel store needs replenishing or the ash cleaning out. For hotels not on the mains gas network with high energy, use a biomass boiler should be considered. For those able to pay for their own systems, as a result of the RHI, an initial investment of £150,000 can yield a 20 year return of upwards of £500,000 for a 20Kw boiler.

For those unable to purchase the biomass boiler system, companies such as Happy Energy are offering free biomass boiler systems where everything including maintenance is provided free of charge – all that’s required is for the hotel to purchase their own wood pellets.

For more information on the benefits of taking a whole building approach to energy efficiency contact Happy Energy on 0800 0 246 234 or via their website at www.happyenergy.co.uk

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