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Energy Conservation

LEEDing The Way

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a rating system administered by the U.S. Green Building Council, which certifies that buildings incorporate environmentally responsible systems and features in their design, construction, and renovation. This is an excellent way to get guidance in creating more environmentally and economically sound buildings — guidance the hospitality industry can benefit from greatly. I recently learned about a building from the retail sector that was LEED certified and I think the lessons learned can be applied especially to the hospitality industry.

giant_eagle_skylightsFor a great example, Giant Eagle (a Pittsburgh-based grocery store) has become the first grocer in the U.S. to run a LEED-certified supermarket, located just south of Cleveland in Brunswick, Ohio. The energy conserving practices it incorporated into its design also won it recognition as an Energy Star Retailer Partner of the year in February 2004. The 80,000 square foot building has incorporated several energy and water conserving practices as well as various environmentally-friendly practices.

Their water conservation practices include water conserving equipment, saving 100,000 gallons per year, and xeric or drought-resistant landscaping, saving 400,000 gallons per year. If a supermarket can save that kind of water with their conserving steps (and think money savings too), just think how much water (and money) a hospitality property, a greater water-consuming property, could save by taking similar steps!

Giant Eagle’s energy conservation was tackled from several directions. Skylights were integrated with the lighting system so that the electric lights would adjust according to how much light comes through the skylights. They used a white reflective roof and increased insulation so that temperature control was easier and cheaper. Wind energy is used for 50% of their energy consumption. Energy consumption was cut by 30% compared to other supermarkets because of their energy saving steps. There are many technologies that can be used in hospitality venues to save energy. The technologies can impact lighting practices, heating and cooling approaches, and the technology used be it cooking, refrigerating, or computers and their peripherals. Resources and money can be saved by those in the hospitality industry by implementing energy conservation practices.

Some of the environmentally friendly practices they utilized are air monitoring to ensure fresh air throughout the store, a green housekeeping program, cabinetry made of recycled strawboard, furniture in the kid’s learning center made of particle board from pressed sunflower seeds, gypsum wallboard made from 100% recycled materials, and low VOC (volatile organic compounds) materials like paint, glues, carpet, wood products, and sealants. The store has a conservation department that continues pursuing alternative energy sources and conservation initiatives, ensuring that customers and employees alike benefit. Fresh air will benefit your guests and employees too. Guests will be more comfortable, thus returning more often and referring others to you. Your employees will be more alert and content and thus more productive. Both of those benefits will positively impact your bottom line.

LEED certification may not be right for you, but the principles promoted by their program are solid and will benefit your business. Taking energy and environmental design steps for your hospitality property is an ECOnomically Sound decision

Article provided by The E Group, www.e-grp.com