In a feverish time for carbon emissions reduction and energy pressures, there are lessons for education from other energy intensive environments.
This energy and education article was first published by GovToday, ahead of the Greening Education 2014 conference in London.
We are witnessing a radical change this year in the way that government goes about the business of carbon reduction, energy saving and better water management.
The Coalition has clearly signalled through its ministers that the public sector, including education must radically ramp up efforts conserve and consume less and so contribute much more to the short and long-term carbon emissions goals.
It almost seems as though the Government has prodded the public sector forward to act as a beacon for effective carbon commitments through much more efficient consumption of increasingly expensive energy and water resources.
It’s a challenge that will need expert guidance and clear road maps for many in education, and other areas of the public sphere. At the same time, there is much to learn from other, commercial sectors, particularly hospitality where the need to embrace sustainable energy and water savings has long been understood.
For hotels of all sizes, there is a strong financial impetus as much as the desire to act responsibly and contribute to climate-change activity. Being green in hospitality has gone far beyond doing just enough to comply with regulations with all large groups working hard to make substantial changes in energy and water consumption.
The corporate social responsibility imperatives are much higher and more visible in hotel strategy management agendas now that they were even three years ago.
At the same time, the financial benefits of being green are now well proven. Education can take similar steps to cut energy and water consumption in a wide range of ways, reducing strain on hard-pressed budgets while cutting carbon footprint by substantial, sustainable amounts.
Two examples from the UK hospitality environment can help to provide a strong frame of reference for all those in education who have been tasked with the tough job of energy demand reduction.
Think Planet initiative
Leading hotel operator Carlson Rezidor is currently making great strides with a wide-ranging sustainability initiative focused on reducing guest and staff water usage, retrofitting LED lighting, deploying intelligent heating and ventilation controls while maximising the efficiency of hotel boilers electric pumps.
SaveMoneyCutCarbon is sustainability partner with Carlson Rezidor and supports the company’s ambitious Think Planet global initiative in the UK and Ireland across its Radisson Blu and Park Inn by Radisson brands. The Think Planet strategy has an ambitious target to reduce water and energy consumption across the group’s portfolio by 25 per cent within four years.
The SaveMoneyCutCarbon LED lighting retrofit alone means the electrical load at 32 UK hotels will be reduced by 3.67 million watts, saving more than £250,000, with downlights cut by 85-90 per cent and the tubes by 50 per cent.
SaveMoneyCutCarbon’s unique, holistic approach to cutting energy and water consumption is also helping Carlson Rezidor meet the requirements of the Government’s Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC). The CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme is mandatory and aimed at improving energy efficiency and cutting emissions in large public and private sector organisations. These organisations are responsible for around 10% of the UK’s emissions.
The scheme features a range of reputational, behavioural and financial drivers, which aim to encourage organisations to develop energy management strategies that promote a better understanding of energy usage.
Similarly, Puma Hotels’ Collection – a group with a portfolio of 21 properties in the UK, sought SaveMoneyCutCarbon’s advice and project management expertise.
The 21 hotels within the Puma Hotels’ Collection have seen savings that SaveMoneyCutCarbon’s solutions promised in both water and energy costs and means that its daily contribution to climate protection begins every time their guests steps under the shower or turn on the tap.
The group has achieved savings of £100,000 inside eight months from the £65,000 investment, a full return on investment in a sector where ROI is achieved normally over a minimum two years. Savings will continue at this level month after month. SaveMoneyCutCarbon continues to work with Puma Hotels on other major areas of consumption, including lighting and HVAC management.
With the pressure on for education to cut carbon, reduce energy and water consumption and design sustainable strategies for energy management this year, the case studies from hospitality can be a great benefit, helping to focus on the most effective paths for change.
Clearly, not all aspects of hotel resources management need to be applicable in education but both share common characteristics of intensive use, 24-hour operations in some areas, and the need to maintain quality of services. Education energy pathfinders can make a substantial, sustainable difference, while meeting government demands, by agile adoption of hospitality sector lessons.