Water scarcity is a recognised global problem, and the hospitality industry is under increasing pressure to reduce water consumption. The imperative for addressing water use is both moral and commercial. By taking steps to save water, hotels and other hospitality institutions are contributing to the preservation of this precious resource as well as saving money.
According to the UK’s Environment Agency, hotels can potentially decrease the amount of water consumed per guest per night by up to 50%.
Create a water management plan
The first step towards better water efficiency is establishing a water management plan, which will outline water-saving targets and the planning, time and resources required to achieve them.
Understand consumption and costs
As a starting point, your hotel will need to identify your current water consumption and costs, going back at least three months. Knowing these numbers will help you set an achievable target for water reduction.
One of the most accurate ways of doing this is to install water meters and sub-meters and take regular readings. This will allow you to see how much water is being used by the property as a whole, as well as identify the areas of greatest use.
To get a greater understanding of costs, look at your historic water bills to compare your consumption to costs. Getting buy-in from stakeholders is far easier when you can demonstrate how any capital investment will be offset by potential cost savings.
Establish a water conservation plan
Once you have measured and set new targets, you can go about executing your plan.
- Carry out a water audit to identify where the major water costs are and where savings can be made
- You can calculate the water used per guest per night by taking the total water consumed in guest rooms in a month and dividing it by the number of guests
- Check whether government or other funding and loans are available for your investment water reduction
- Establish realistic water saving goals – for each department and for the hotel as a whole.
- Make all employees aware of management’s commitment to water reduction goals
- Encourage staff to get involved with their own suggestions for water reduction
- Train staff on ways to reduce water usage
- Establish a monitoring system so that you can track your progress against your goals
Significant savings around the property
When implementing a water-saving strategy, it makes sense to start with common areas of high water consumption. Here are some ideas for the areas of a hotel that generally have higher water usage:
- Only run dishwashers on full load
- Set taps to have a maximum flow of 10 litres per minute
- Instead of using running water:
- Wash fruit and vegetables in a sink
- Pre-soak dishes and utensils
- Thaw food in the fridge or at room temperature
- Set shower flow to less than than 10 litres per minute
- Install low-flow toilets, which use roughly two to four times less water than older models.
- Install dual flush toilets
- Your taps should have a maximum flow of six litres per minute.
- Install flow restrictors to reduce tap flow
- Conduct regular maintenance checks for leaks
- Ensure that machines are fully loaded before use
- Minimise the rinse cycle as much as you can
- Install temporary holding tanks to reuse of water from previous rinse cycles
- Conduct routine maintenance on your machines, checking for leaks, ensuring that water inlet valves are closing properly etc.
- Larger hotels can install continuous batch washers which use all the rinse water for pre-washing
- When buying new machines, look for good water and energy consumption ratings
Before installing a swimming pool, consider whether or not you really need one.
If you have a swimming pool:
- Conduct regular maintenance checks to prevent leaks
- Read water meters last thing at night and first thing in the morning to help you identify if any leaks are present
- Cover the pool when not in use to prevent evaporation
Grounds and gardens
- Especially in warmer months and hotter climates, avoid watering the ground in the heat of the day, where much of it will evaporate before it gets to the plants’ roots
- Avoid using automated watering systems
- If you do have an automated watering system, fit timers on sprinklers to control water us
- Use moisture sensors to avoid over-watering
- Train staff to reduce water use where possible
- Use rainwater harvesting to capture rainwater from roofs and gutters. This can be stored and used for watering plants.
- Use greywater from baths and sinks for irrigation
- Using organic compost (make it yourself) to add nutrients and help retain moisture in the soil
- Place wood chips on the soil to reduce evaporation, especially in areas that get a lot of sun
- Plant indigenous plants which are more likely to be naturally adapted to thrive with the amount of rainfall in your area
- Train your staff on ways to reduce water use, for example:
- how many times to flush the toilet when cleaning
- not to leave taps running or use excessive water
- use a mop rather than a hose
- Allow guests to opt for a linen and towel reuse programme, allowing them to choose to not have linen and towels changed daily
Educate your customers
Educating your guests on water consumption can even encourage them to reflect on their own water use at home. The simplest way to educate your customers is to communicate what your hotel is doing to minimise water consumption. Here are some ideas:
- Encourage guests to shower instead of bath
- Place a sign above basins suggesting that guests don’t leave the tap running while shaving or brushing teeth
- Invite guests to reuse their towels and linen
- Inform guests how your hotel reduces water consumption in other areas
Another benefit of doing this is that guests are increasingly seeking and choosing ‘green’ hotels. Booking.com’s 2019 Sustainable Travel Report found that 72% of global travellers believe that we must travel sustainably to save the planet for future generations.
Other water-saving investments for hotels to consider
Grey water systems
Installing a grey water system enables up to 50% of wastewater to be returned to the hotel after treatment for functions such as toilet flushing.
However, due to the separate pipework and chemical treatment needed, grey water systems can be expensive to install. Depending on your water costs and the costs to install, the payback time could be anywhere between two to fifteen years.
Installing low-flow technology has minimal effect on the customer experience, but can help save huge volumes of water in kitchens and bathrooms.
Smart solutions for sustainable hotels
At Smarter Business, we understand that catering for the needs of guests and patrons often leads to high water consumption. But we have the expertise to show you how to implement a water management strategy – which may include switching to a cheaper supplier.
Smart water usage translates into smart hospitality – and that’s what we’re about. We have also created a range of bespoke rates and offers for AA and VisitEngland members to ensure they get the best on offer.
Is your hotel an AA or VisitEngland member? Call or email our dedicated AA team to discuss your needs, and let us start to help you get on top of costs and operating at optimum efficiency: 0144 423 8315