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Think Planet aims to reduce Rezidor’s energy consumption by 25%

Inge Huijbrechts

Inge Huijbrechts, Director, Responsible Business, is basing her plan on Five Pillars

Inge Huijbrechts is a specialist in Corporate Social Responsibility and until 18 months ago was Head of CSR at Toyota Motor Europe. ‘But’, she confesses, ‘I’m finding it great fun to be doing this kind of work in the hospitality industry’. Inge, a Belgian, is now Director for Responsible Business at Rezidor and, as such, is heading the initiative called Think Planet.

‘Our aim’, she says very boldly, ‘is to reduce annual energy consumption by 25% by the year 2016 in our 330 hotels in 70 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. This will apply to our Radisson Blu, Park Inn and Missoni brands.’

This is a big target, but when Inge fleshes out the techniques she is adopting, it actually does not sound over-ambitious. ‘We are placing our confidence on what we see as Five Pillars. These are Staff Awareness, Quick Wins, Investments, Lighting and Renovations/New Builds.’

Inge is confident that by instilling the need for change and by clearly fixing these objectives in the minds of all the staff of the properties, the first 5% of these savings will be achieved.

Quick Wins covers many areas. ‘These are small adjustments in what we do and how we do it that can make immediate savings’, she explains. Examples come thick and fast. Daylight sensors can reduce lighting when there is ample natural light. Lights can be switched off automatically by motion sensors when hotel spaces are not in use. These can encompass washrooms and toilets, staff changing rooms, saunas in spas. New types of shower heads, incorporating aerators, can mix more air into the water supply, so that less water, especially hot water, is required to create the downflow that the users require. Buzzers on refrigerator and freezer doors can bring people’s attention to doors left open unnecessarily, a habit that can add up to a big waste of power.

The investment required for power saving involves careful investigation into the areas of heavy consumption; namely, heating, air-conditioning and ventilation. ‘I expect that 45% to 50% of our savings can come from these areas’, suggests Inge. ‘Very often all three services are on simultaneously in a property. Control of the firing of the boilers and the chilling equipment, so that they are only operating when it is essential, can make great savings in the Think Planet environment’.

The Lighting Pillar demands a completely radical approach and Rezidor has already come to an agreement with Philips, the multi-national electrical and electronics enterprise, to change all the lighting in the public areas of the hotels to LED by the end of 2013. It is expected that the investment will be recouped from the saved energy in a short time.

Renovations and New-Builds speak for themselves. Everything learned from the changes to be made in the existing properties will, of course, be applied to the design and construction of new properties and will be incorporated widely when properties are renovated so that they will be totally in line with the Think Planet concept.

‘Once all our ideas for Think Planet are in place’, concludes Inge triumphantly, ‘we will be saving per annum as much energy as all the households in a country the size of Iceland consume in a year.’

I came away from the interview thinking that we could all apply many of these ideas to our own homes to the benefit of ourselves and the planet. After all, Inge did also explain that the Think Planet approach had to be sold initially to the board of a public company on the strength of the financial benefits that would accrue to the shareholders.

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