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Responsible Hospitality: Engage staff in energy saving message

30 November 2012 by
Responsible Hospitality: Engage staff in energy saving message

Staff engagement is a vital component in the success of saving energy across the Rezidor Hotel Group, which is using a firefly as a mascot to spread its message. Janet Harmer reports

A firefly called Lumi has lit up Think Planet!, an ambitious programme that targets a 25% reduction in energy consumption throughout the Rezidor Hotel Group by 2016.

James Wellock
James Wellock

Reducing its energy consumption by 25% is a tough call, but the company believes it is tangible and, through a clear and vibrantly communicated programme, helps to focus all employees, at whatever level they work.

"A crucial factor of the energy-saving initiative is staff engagement," explains Inge Huijbrechts, director of responsible business at Rezidor (pictured left). "It is what makes all the difference. If the housekeeping department is engaged, you can very quickly make energy savings of 5-10% by turning off lights and televisions and ensuring there are no draughts."

Huijbrechts says Lumi helps to give Think Planet an identity, which has captured the imagination of staff. "We chose a firefly as our mascot as by creating their own light, they are 100% efficient."

Lumi features on all the training material - including the back-of-house posters - distributed to every hotel, and in three training videos for the housekeeping, events and meetings and kitchen departments.

"The videos have been a great success as they have been made relevant by featuring members of staff and tell funny stories, alongside good and bad examples of saving energy," adds Huijbrechts.

A Lumi Quiz is held once a month - with an iPad as the prize - which has proved a big hit, particularly with the young staff, with more than 15,000 players taking part to date. And in one hotel in Jordan, the staff canteen has been renamed the Lumi Café.

"We didn't want to run yet another corporate programme, which in some remote regions where environmental awareness is not very high, would be ignored," says Huijbrechts. Lumi has helped create a campaign that is both fun and informative, which everyone has been able to engage with."

RADISSON BLU PORTMAN

For Simon Pearson, who was chief engineer of the 272-bedroom Radisson Blu Portman until July 2012 and is now responsible for the 36 Rezidor hotels in the UK as regional chief engineer, Think Planet has helped put the consideration of the environment at the forefront of the minds of all staff.

"Think Planet has really helped to refocus everyone on the energy we are trying to save," he explains. "Even though the staff previously undertook responsible business training, now it has become part of the culture. Now everywhere you go in the Portman, there are posters telling you to turn off the lights or turn the air conditioning down.

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"Previously you would go into meeting rooms and find the lights switched on when they weren't in use. Now they are turned off and the air conditioning is turned down - that is a big change." Think Planet initiatives at the Portman, which enjoys an annual occupancy of 89%, are led by the Green Team, which is headed by shift engineer Mark Cox. Members include general manager Guido Bayley and a representative from every department within the hotel. The team, which meets every six to seven weeks, oversaw the hotel's involvement in the company-wide Green Month, held in September. Activities at the Portman included the selling of Lumi pin badges to guests for £1, a pub quiz for staff, international food week in the staff canteen, 10K runs by individual members of staff and a table tennis tournament. All fund-raising activities resulted in £500 being raised by Rezidor's corporate charity, the Childhood Foundation, and £450 collected for the hotel's own charity, the London Air Ambulance. "Think Planet is all about kilowatt savings, which is something that we can control and is therefore achievable," says Pearson. "By focusing on energy savings as being at the centre of our core values is will result it the company emitting less carbon and therefore paying a lower level of tax." Energy consumption at the hotel is monitored every day using daily meter readings. Major savings have already been made by replacing traditional lighting with 1,184 lightbulbs throughout the hotel lobby and all the meetings and events rooms, alongside the installation of internal and external lighting control sensors. This has resulted in an 85% reduction in annual energy consumption in lighting (from 518,837.68KW/h per year to 77,824.24KW/h per year) and a substantial reduction in energy costs of £43,500 per annum. The next step will be to replace all the lighting in the bedrooms (around eight lights in each room) and administration areas.
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THINK PLANET - SMART ENERGY HABITS1 Switch off lights and equipment 2 Turn heating and cooking to eco-mode 3 Report any energy issues that need attention or maintenance 4 Install daylight and motion sensors for lighting 5 Introduce energy efficient lighting in all hotels 6 Install condensation water recuperation from air conditioning 7 Introduce alarms on freezers 8 Install variable extraction systems in kitchens 9Optimise building management systems and heating, ventilation and air conditioning installations 10Engage and train staff in the above energy-saving habits
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