Benchmarking Hotels for Energy and Water Performance

Yesterday I was invited to the launch of first of it’s kind energy and water bench marking report of UAE’s Hotels by Emirates Green Building Council, a great step for Sustainable Tourism. Globally Tourism contribute to 5% of the global carbon dioxide emissions, so it’s important to focus on sustainable tourism to control the carbon emissions of the country.

Energy and Water Bench marking for UAE Hotels 2016

Emirates GBC is formed in 2006 with goal of advancing green building principles in UAE. Hotel bench marking 2016 is one of their newest initiative, where they collected data from 46 hotels in UAE to provide overview of UAE hospitality sector’s energy and water performance. Out Of the 46 hotels, 25 are Eco-certified hotels by bodies like Green Globe, Green Key, Earth Check etc. 25 Hotels have installed energy efficiency features and nine are connected to the district cooling network. The data of energy and water consumption over the period of 3 years was gathered and processed by qualified professionals who are members of EGBC like Majd Fayyad using a specially developed software by Mr. Sarfraz Dairkee of M.A.H.Y. Khoory & Co. LLC. The study analysed the Energy Use Intensity and Water Use Intensity of the hotels.
Occupancy is major influencing parameter for water consumption, therefore water use intensity per guest night (WUI) is considered for water bench marking in the report.

Saeed Al Abbar, Chairman of  EGBC presenting the report

Out of participating hotels, 57% have 5-star rating, an interesting and shocking point to note the report states that Dubai’s 5 star hotels consume 225% more energy than their 5-star counterparts in Europe. Though generally 30% to 50 % energy is used for cooling in hotels which are based in hot and humid climate; in UAE this percentage is even higher and reach 70% in typical 4-star hotel. I think it’s high time for UAE hotels, to adapt DEWA recommended 22 degrees temperature in summer and focus on operable windows for winter. From my experience I have complained in many hotels in UAE while on stay cations that their air conditioning control is not working properly, if I need to increase set temperature or even switch off option is not available. Providing more control to guest can result in considerable energy savings.

Key findings

Annual Normalized Energy Use Intensity Graph
  • There was unequal water and energy performance across the UAR hotels. 
  • EUI, an internationally acceptable norm for bench marking of hotels, was found to vary between 104 and 721 kWh/m2.year across the hotels; a median UAE hotel has average normalized EUI of 283kWh/m2.year.
  • The values of WUIs (Water Use Intensities) per guest-night ranged between 30 to 399 Imperial Gallons/guest-night.year
  • Poor performing hotels consume 3 times the amount of energy (in kWh/m2.year) and 7.4 times the water compared to the best performing hotels.
  • High potential for significant savings with viable and affordable existing technologies.
  • Significant and negative correlation between the year of build and the water consumption which necessitates a deeper focus to be put on the replacement of old fixtures and proper maintenance of water systems.
  • Significant impact of laundry services and landscaping on the water use intensities

Limitations of Energy and Water Bench marking 2016

  • This bench marking approach does not reflect operational efficiency of buildings
  • This bench marking excludes food production, food waste, waste management, indoor air quality, carbon footprint of the property, natural gas use and efficiency. 
But this bench marking provides data over wide range of hotels in UAE for the first time and even classified hotels according to their energy and water performance level. Most of the hotels have strong potential for improvement on the basis of energy and water consumption. Either they can make small changes or if performance is really poor they can go for retrofitting and can achieve considerable savings by increasing their energy or water efficiency. 
EGBC will be updating and fine tuning the bench marking and will be repeating on annual basis. We can surely expect improved and more accurate bench marking reports from Emirates Green Building Council next year!
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I am a Sustainability Professional. I have worked on many green building projects in the

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