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Marriott Ranked Least Efficient, as Budget Hotels Show the Way

A sustainability study of 46,000 US hotels by tech company Brighter Planet found budget hotels had greater energy efficiency than more expensive establishments, with upscale chain Marriott ranking 75th out of 75 chains. The study also discovered that newer hotels are less efficient, use more energy and use dirtier energy sources than their older counterparts.

The most energy and carbon-efficient US lodging chain in the study was Vagabond Inns, with Red Lion Hotels & Inns in the No. 2 spot. Both are mid-range hotels. Budget chain Red Carpet Inns was third in the ranking. Travelodge, Scottish Inns, America’s Best Inn & Suites, Shilo Inns & Resorts, Knights Inn, Howard Johnson and Rodeway Inn rounded out the top 10.

But the analysis found that energy efficient, lower carbon hotel rooms are available at every price range. Some upscale hotels beat out many mid-range chains and budget class options. Four Points Hotels by Sheraton was the most energy efficient chain among upscale lodgings, coming in 33rd overall.  The analysis also found the Sheraton chain was 20 percent more energy efficient than the least efficient mid-range chain, AmericInn International.

Brighter Planet’s lodging analysis covers 80 percent of all US hotels with at least 15 rooms. The analysis modeled the hotels’ impacts using details on each property.

The study found the dirtiest 25 percent of the nation’s hotels are responsible for more than half of the entire industry’s environmental impact. But increasing interest in LEED and Energy Star program has the potential to reverse this trend, Brighter Planet said.

Marriott has been named as a sustainability leader on several occasions. Last December Climate Counts ranked the chain as the hotel sector’s leader, and in March it was one of five leisure and hospitality companies in Ethisphere’s 2012 Most Ethical Companies list.

Last month Marriott announced that GE Lighting LED retrofits at its Bethesda. Md., headquarters will reduce electricity use by 860,000 kWh, or 66 percent, and save more than $120,000 in annual combined energy and maintenance costs. And last November, Marriott and Constellation Energy agreed to develop over 23 MW of load response capability across more than 250 of the hotel’s properties in the mid-Atlantic, New York, New England, Texas and California.

Marriott is also one of 12 international hotel companies that are trying to create a single methodology for calculating carbon footprints and emissions.

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10 thoughts on “Marriott Ranked Least Efficient, as Budget Hotels Show the Way

  1. There is a contradiction here. Which is the truth? 3rd party report by Brighter Planet or press releases?

    Marriott has been named as a sustainability leader on several occasions. Last December Climate Counts ranked the chain as the hotel sector’s leader, and in March it was one of five leisure and hospitality companies in Ethisphere’s 2012 Most Ethical Companies list.

  2. I will take 3rd party report more authenticated.l I suggest Bright
    planet should take this study in India and other developing country.
    Kisholoy Gupta,
    Sustainable Hospitality Management Adviser.

  3. Why is Energy Efficiency almost always focused at changing light bulbs? All these large hotels use natural gas boilers for space heating and to heat their domestic water. How much hot energy is is going up these chimney’s? The technology of Condensing Flue Gas Heat Recovery can have these large natural gas boilers operating at over 90% energy efficiency.
    The US DOE states that for every million Btu’s recovered from these waste exhaust gases, and this recovered energy is utilized back in the building or facility, 118 lbs of CO2 will NOT be put into the atmosphere. They also state that if a 60 watt light bulb is left on for 24 hours it will generate 3.3 lbs of CO2. How many light bulbs have to be replaced HOURLY to compare with the energy savings and CO2 reduction happening in the boiler room.
    And then there is the WATER that is being created during this heat recovery process. Do not waste the water.

  4. What would you say is the size of a typical hotel – perhaps 300 rooms? How many light bulbs exist in each room – perhaps 8? How many other ancillary light bulbs are there – perhaps an additional 600 (lobby, restaurant(s), exercise facility, laundry, outdoor lighting, etc.)? So we have roughly 3,000 light bulbs per hotel.

    OK – now how many hours per day is each bulb left on? let’s say an average of 4 hours per day (some, like the laundry room, are probably left on 24/7/365). All that works out to roughly 12,000 hours of bulb use per day – and at 3.3 lbs of CO2 per 24 hours per bulb, that is equivalent to 1,650 lbs of CO2 per day, just to light the place using 60 watt bulbs.

    Suddenly the comparison between changing light bulbs vs. boiler heat recovery; doesn’t look so bad for the light bulb option. My point is that both options are valid (and, furthermore, changing bulbs is alot less capital intensive than modifying, adding, or replacing boiler equipment).

  5. Where is the link to the Brighter Planet study? This article is all over the place…pick a side and stick to it.

  6. These light bulbs are generating 1,650 lbs of Co2 per day by being left on. They will have to be changed or turned off to compare with the CO2 Reduction happening in the boiler room, of possibly 200 to 500 lbs/hr of CO2 reduction.

  7. Switching the bulbs to CFLs will reduce the CO2 footprint of lighting by 75%. That means a total switch will save about 1,237 lbs of CO2 per day. Somewhat more than that if the switch is to LEDs instead of CFLs. In addition, this is a CO2 savings that is realized all 365 days of the year – in contrast to the boiler waste heat recovery option, which tends to save more in the winter, but significantly less in the summer.

    I stand by my statement that both options are worth pursuing. And for those hotels looking to become greener without large capital investment up front, switching bulbs is a great way to start.

  8. Crystal, thanks for pointing out that we needed the link. That’s been added now. But I don’t think it’s our job to “pick a side and stick to it.” We’re reporting the most salient information, and unfortunately sometimes that doesn’t result in a unified narrative. Different studies use different methodologies and that could well account for the wide variation in Marriott’s performance.

    Iain, I don’t think it would be fair to characterize this situation as “third party report vs. press release.” The Climate Counts and Ethisphere studies are also third-party reports, and I don’t see reason to assume they’re any less rigorous than the Brighter Planet study.

    Tamar Wilner
    Senior Editor
    Environmental Leader

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