In this Talking Point blog, David Davis, Technical Director at Encore asks why hotels aren't doing more to save water.
Hotels by their very nature have to consume a lot of water in order to function. But saving every drop of water can make a huge difference globally in the hotel industry's bid to reduce waste of this precious resource.
When you take into account the millions of hotels globally and that they are 'live' 24/7/365 with water used for showers, baths, sinks, toilets, bidets, swimming pools, laundry, kitchens, cleaning, grounds maintenance and hospitality, it's easy to see why.
When it comes to water, every drop really does count because it's estimated global demand for water will exceed supply by 40% by 2030, yet most of the time the solution for hotels is simple and cost effective.
This can start with staff and guests being encouraged to engage and communicate more. It's important to educate staff to think bigger - i.e. on a global scale - rather than simply what it means for the hotel they operate in.
For example, early reporting of leaks or dripping taps in rooms or in the grounds so they can be addressed quickly will save huge amounts of precious water across thousands of hotels. This is vitally important for those working in large chains and it should be easier for them to visualise how each time they save water it could be multiplied by each hotel in the group.
Housekeeping also has a big part to play: not just linen and towel re-use programmes, but in-room cleaning procedures. It's not uncommon for housekeeping to flush a toilet multiple times in the cleaning process. Simply stopping the unnecessary flushing of toilets during the clean would save millions of litres across a hotel's portfolio.
Encouraging guests to cut back on water use is important too. Using fun messages to suggest they take shorter showers, or incentivising their water saving actions with a voucher for the bar could make a big difference. Guests should consider the role they play. In some countries guests may use ten times or more the amount of water that's typically used daily by local people.
The Hotel Water Measurement Initiative can play a big part in this. Now hotels are able to measure their water use in a consistent way, they will be able to share data, performance and benchmark initiatives and tips to save much more.
Another important step is ensuring the design team that is planning your new hotel or refurbishing your existing property is fully briefed on the need to save and reuse as much water as possible. Encouraging them to think innovatively is paramount as they could unearth a new solution.
This is how we created Encore, the world's first cistern to use condensate from air conditioning units to flush the toilet.
As a director of the G&H Group, a mechanical and electrical contractor, for decades I, and the Managing Director Graham Kelly designed hotel schemes with a pipe draining away all the condensate from air conditioning units.
Water was literally going down the drain but not via the toilet.
When you consider how many hotel rooms there are across the world, billions of litres of condensate water is generated all of which has been wasted until now. We knew we had to do something about this and spent three years developing the only cistern in the world that uses this free, sustainable water to flush the toilet.
To offer worldwide appeal and save as much water as possible, it was designed so it fits like a conventional cistern and is suitable for new build hotels or can be retrofitted.
In the UK, where average annual temperatures do not reach anything like those in places such as the United States, southern Europe, Asia Pacific, the MENA region, South America and Australasia, the amount of condensate created still runs into the billions of litres.
For example, data from hotel benchmarking specialist STR shows 114 hotels are currently being built in the UK. These hotels alone would save 218 million litres of water a year by using Encore compared to traditional cisterns. This works out at 1.92 million litres a year for a 132-bed hotel based on 80% occupancy levels. For context, this would fill the equivalent of 87 Olympic swimming pools.
And the water savings are even greater in hotter climates where more condensate is generated. In the US, the 1,477 hotels currently under construction would save 4.7 billion litres of water a year, and 2.4 billion for the 302 in the Middle East.
All this simply by choosing a different toilet cistern. If you coupled the cistern with a greywater or even a blackwater system to recover other water for re-use elsewhere, you could approach an almost water neutral hotel.
Encore can be used globally with each flush adjustable from 6 to 1.5 litres to meet different international requirements: http://www.encorecistern.com