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Conservation made easy April 22, 2008

Posted by Joe in Uncategorized.

Dubrovnik, Croatia in July 2004.

My day job sometimes requires me to travel, both within the United States and occasionally abroad.

I’ve been to Europe and the Middle East about a dozen times in the past 4 or 5 years. When I travel internationally, I am struck with how many of the hotels are designed with conservation in mind.

For example, in many European hotels there’s a key card holder attached to the wall just inside the doorway. As you enter the room, you insert your key card into the key card holder. When the card is inserted, the electrical lights in the room are activated. The key card holder acts as a main switch for the lights in the room. When you remove the card, the lights turn off after a delay of 10 seconds or so. This way, while you’re in the room, the lights will work. When you take your key and leave your rooms, the lights automatically turn off, conserving electricity. Pretty neat.

Similarly, some hotels have a cut-off switch for the air conditioner. When the balcony door is open, the air conditioning automatically turns off.

And, it’s not limited to electricity; water is conserved, too. Some of the toilets have two flushing mechanisms – one that simply empties and refills the bowl using as little water as necessary. And a second, more robust flush, for those instances where you need the added umph to carry away the bowl’s contents.

I don’t know the reasons behind these conservation efforts. It could for purely noble and altruistic environmental reasons. Or perhaps its motivated by the pursuit of profit. Or it could be driven by governmental regulations. But the end result is hotels abroad are conserving money and resources without inconveniencing anyone.

Why can’t hotels in America do the same?



1. Dreamer - April 23, 2008

That picture is absolutely beautiful. I know businesss travel is a hassle, but it also gives you the opportunity to see many different parts of the world.

I agree about conservation. Our whole society seems to be geared toward wastefulness.

2. Grams - April 23, 2008

All those ideas make sense and would be an inconvenience to no one!

3. -Kev - April 24, 2008

Well, it’s pretty simple really. Energy is a lot more expensive in Europe than it is in the USA. Imagine if Marriott’s or Sheraton’s energy bill suddenly rose to the levels that hotels must pay everywhere else in the world, at least 60% than today. I bet that there’d be a key card holding in every room within a year, probably sooner. Same thing would happen in Las Vegas, the capital of American neon.

4. Joe - April 25, 2008

I also think that it’s the short-term mentality that most heads of US-based corporations have. They are more concerned with making this quarter’s Wall Street estimates than they are with making changes that will take 2-4 years to see results.

For example, it may cost $1 million dollars to retrofit a hotel with these cost cutting devices. And they may only save $250,000 per year after that. That means it’ll take 4 years before they see any benefits. Way beyond the horizon for most corporate leaders.

But just think, after 4 years, they’d receive $250,000 additional profit per year, in perpetuity. That’s a 25% return on investment after year 4. Not bad; sure beats what the market if providing these days.

Of course like most statistics you see on the internet, I pulled these figures right out of the air.

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