Key energy efficiency solutions for boutique hotels- by Hector De Castro

Hotels represent one of the most important sectors of the travel and tourism and, as industry, they are the world’s largest single employer.

Compared to most other categories of commercial buildings, lodging facilities are unique as regards to operational plans, the types of amenities and services offered, as well as the resulting patterns of natural resource use.

Many of the services provided by hotels are resource-intensive, resulting in a significant ecological footprint.

Hotels interact with the environment at every stage of their life cycle. A typical life cycle analysis tends to show that the siting of the hotel and the construction phase represent less than 10 % of the total amount of energy consumption over a 50 year period, thus demonstrating the importance of the environmental impact during the hotel’s operational phase (Despretz, 2001).

“The main environmental impact is most significant during the operational phase of the hotel, which is why efforts have to be made to reduce those environmental impacts”, says Hector De Castro, President at LUSH assoc.

Considering almost 80% of the energy in the world is derived from fossil sources (IEA, 2005), the sector’s contribution to global environmental problems, including global warming and climate change, is not negligible. It is estimated that a typical hotel annually releases between 160 and 200 kg of CO2 per m2 of room floor area, depending on the fuel used to generate electricity, heating or cooling.

Why should my boutique hotel care about energy consumption?

  1. To be competitive
  2. To protect the environment
  3. To reduce costs

As a boutqiue hotel, what can I do to reduce my energy consumption?

  • Make a first assessment
  • Involve your guests
  • Improve equipment efficiency
  • Protect the building from temperature extremes
  • Involve your staff

Classification of energy efficiency solutions into appropriate “solution groups”

The energy efficiency solutions available to boutique hotels have been classified into three different groups (see the review of solutions provided below):

a) the “energy management” solution group compiles the solutions which deal with the hotel’s energy policy as well as staff and guest involvement with the energy conservation measures;

b) the “reduction of heating and cooling needs of the hotel” solution group contains technical solutions for the renovation of the building’s exterior, in order to reduce the hotel’s heating and cooling needs;

c) the “equipment efficiency” solution group compiles technical solutions with the aim of improving the hotel’s equipment efficiency, either by a better operational system (through equipment control and regulation) or by replacing equipment.

Playa Papaya Project, boutique beach hotel in Tulum, Mexico

General information for each energy efficiency solution

  • Area of the hotel concerned: this indicates whether the solution is for a specific area of the hotel (guest rooms, kitchen…) or if it concerns the building as a whole (in this case, the term “general” is used),
  • Basic requirements / conditions: this provides straightforward information on the conditions which must be found in the hotel in order for the solution to be applicable,
  • The energy consumption activities (or end-usage) concerned: this indicates which consumption activities are affected by the solution (space heating, space cooling, hot water, lighting, etc.);
  • Potential energy savings: when the information is available, an estimate is provided of the energy savings which can be obtained by implementing this specific activity (%age),
  • Ease of implementation: this scale indicates the level of difficulty for implementing the solution : from easy (*) to moderate (**) and difficult (***),
  • Ideal time to implement the solution: if applicable, an indication is provided on the best time to implement the solution,
  • Return on investment: this is the ratio of cost versus benefit, expressed in terms of number of years;


The way in which a hotel’s energy efficiency can be improved over time depends on the particular situation of the hotel, such as the building’s characteristics, the available budget, future renovation plans, etc.). In order to give an hotelier an idea of the incremental strategies which could be adopted to improve the energy efficiency of a SME hotel, from ECOHOTELPROJECTS we suggest the three following scenarios:

a) Scenario 1 – “What can my boutique hotel do immediately?”

b) Scenario 2 – “What will my boutique hotel achieve with small renovations?”

c) Scenario 3 – “What can my boutique hotel include during an extensive renovation?”


Bohdanowicz P. (2005-a), European hoteliers’ environmental attitudes: Greening the business. The Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly 46, 188-204.

IEA (2005), Key world energy statistics 2004. Paris Cedex: International Energy Agency.

Gössling S. (2002), Global environmental consequences of tourism, Global Environmental Change 12, 283- 302.

Despretz H. (2001), Green Flag for greener hotels. Valbonne: European Community.

Hotel Energy Solutions (2011), Key Energy Efficiency Solutions for SME Hotels, Hotel Energy Solutions project publications