Hotels use a lot of water — for guest rooms, pools, landscaping, laundry and other uses. In total, this accounts for about 15 percent of total water use in US commercial and institutional facilities, according to the EPA.
As the price of water and wastewater services continue to increase — and drought conditions in the American Southwest spur water restrictions and conservation mandates — hotel owners and operators can save on utility costs and avoid regulatory fines by implementing water-efficient technologies and practices. McGraw-Hill Construction estimates suggest that implementing water-efficient practices in commercial buildings can decrease operating costs by approximately 11 percent and energy and water use by 10 and 15 percent, respectively.
A good place to start saving water is on-site laundry operations, which account for 16 percent of a hotel’s water usage, second only to guest rooms at 30 percent.
To help hotels cut water use, P&G Professional launched its Tide Professional Coldwater Laundry System, an on-premise laundry program that the company says enables facilities to reduce the water used in a commercial washer by up to 40 percent and the energy needed to heat the water in a commercial washer by as much as 75 percent, compared to a standard hot-water system.
For a 150-room hotel, this translates into savings of us to $8,700 per year, based on water, energy and linen replacement cost savings. A return on investment is expected to occur in just a month, P&G Professional says.
Pacifica Hotels, the largest owner and operator of boutique hotels on the Pacific coast, uses the Tide Professional Coldwater Laundry System at all of its 35 properties. Director of operations Alan Hurd won’t say exactly how much the laundry system has saved the hotel group, but told Environmental Leader “we did notice meaningful savings after switching to the Tide Professional Coldwater System.”
Hurd said not only did water and energy costs decrease, but the quality of the wash improved. “Since transitioning we’ve seen whiter, fluffier and cleaner smelling linens and our linen replacement costs have gone down,” Hurd said.
Pacifica Hotels first tried out the coldwater system in Cambria, California, when water levels were drastically low and the city had implemented extreme water conservation requirements.
“The ability to cut down on the amount of water being used in the laundry process was very appealing to us,” Hurd said. “We tried Tide Coldwater in Cambria, and found positive results. For example, we were able to maintain clean soft white linens while simultaneously reducing our water consumption and energy usage, which ultimately has also provided savings to our bottom line.”
The system includes four products: a near-neutral pH coldwater detergent, Downy fabric softener, bleach and whiteness enhancer. It employs enzymes specially designed for lower wash temperatures, which help break down stains without requiring higher water temperatures, the company says.
P&G Professional communications manager Renee Buchanan says 681 properties across the US and Canada use the company’s coldwater system.
“With the reduction in water and energy costs, as well as the savings from not having to replace linens as often, most hotels can expect to see a return on investment within the first month after switching to the Tide Professional Coldwater System,” she told Environmental Leader. “In addition, the reduction in water usage helps hotels in drought stricken areas meet water reduction mandates.”
The EPA also offers help to hotels with its WaterSense at Work: Best Management Practices for Commercial and Institutional Facilities. In addition to upgrading or retrofitting laundry equipment, the agency suggests using WaterSense-labeled fixtures. These faucets, shower heads, toilets, and flushing urinals have been independently certified to be at least 20 percent more water-efficient and perform as well or better than standard models.
The EPA uses an unnamed San Antonio, Texas hotel as an example and says after upgrading its restroom fixtures with high-efficiency toilets, shower heads, and faucet aerators, the hotel now saves 7 million gallons of water and $35,000 in water and sewer bills each year. It also now has the added benefit of fewer maintenance calls from its 397 guest rooms.
In addition to saving water and costs, implementing environmentally sustainable technologies can improve a hotel’s brand, and earn it recognition from “green hotel” programs such as TripAdvisor’s GreenLeaders and AAA’s eco-certified icon.
But ultimately, the bottom line is the bottom line. Reducing water use in hotels cuts utility bills and operational costs. As summer heats up and guest rooms become increasingly occupied by vacation travelers, using water more efficiently will conserve a limited natural resource and saves money.