Hotel Chain Eyes Savings in $50 Million Energy Plan

Hotel Chain Eyes Savings in $50 Million Energy Plan

a href = "http://www.greenbiz.com/frame/1.cfm?targetsite=http://www.starwoodhotels...">Starwood Hotels & Resorts, one of the world’s largest hospitality companies, has announced it will invest $50 million to reduce energy consumption in its hotels -- aiming for a huge cost savings and more environmentally friendly operations.

"With more than 55,000 employees, 135 million square feet of real estate throughout North America and approximately two million occupied guest rooms each month, a little personal energy conservation will go a very long way," said Glenn Tuckman, Starwood's senior vice president of operations.

The hotel chain’s investment is part of a 10-year energy management agreement with Enron Energy Services, a subsidiary of Enron Corp., one of the world's leading electricity, natural gas and communications companies. The agreement covers Westin, Sheraton, St. Regis, Luxury Collection, Four Points and W hotels in North America, and is valued in excess of $1 billion.

Starwood estimates that it will reduce energy costs by approximately $200 million over the duration of the partnership.

Through this agreement, Enron will supply or procure electricity and natural gas; manage energy infrastructure through the implementation of energy-related projects; and provide energy price stability at Starwood's hotels.

"Energy is a significant expense, and we have chosen Enron to help us properly invest in equipment and programs that will ultimately reduce our energy costs," said Robert F. Cotter, Starwood's chief operating officer.

"While conventional wisdom in the hotel industry has always been that you don't invest dollars where the public won't see it, in this case our capital investment is transparent to our guests, but clearly has a compelling financial return and significant environmental benefits,” Cotter said.

Timing is Everything

Starwood and Enron officials say they recognize that there are many new technologies that make this the right time to significantly invest in energy consumption in the hotel industry.

"A decade ago, if we had tried to aggressively conserve energy in our hotels, it would have been very apparent to our guests, and not in a good way," Cotter said "Light bulbs would have taken a few seconds to turn on and would have appeared dim at first; the TV remote control would not have worked properly and the temperature in guest rooms would have been erratic. But today, with Enron, we're able to embark on a path of massive energy reduction that is totally transparent to our guests, saves our hotels money, and favorably impacts the environment."

Incentive Program Added

In addition to its energy management program with Enron, and as part of its ongoing energy consumption campaign, Starwood will begin a major incentive program designed to encourage hotel associates to continually find innovative ways to conserve energy.

"We want every hotel associate to treat our hotels as they would their own home -- after all, we all know to turn off lights when we leave a room in our house, but somehow, when it is a hotel, or office building or any other large public space, we just assume it's someone else's job to watch energy," Tuckman said.

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RELATED LINKS:

How-To: Greening Your Company's Business Travel

Web Guide: Green Hotels Association