Nearly zero energy hotels
– IEE funded project
The European Initiative Nearly Zero Energy Hotels (neZEH), aimed at accelerating the rate of the refurbishment of existing buildings into Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (nZEB), focusing on the European accommodation industry, especially the Small and Medium properties which represent 90% of the European hospitality market.
As buildings consume 40% of the total of energy and emit 36% of greenhouse gases in the European Union, the building sector is a key priority of the EU’s energy efficiency related policies. Tourism is the third-largest industry sector of the European Union. It contributes 5% to EU GDP and accounts for 5,2% of the total labour force (equating to 9,7 million jobs).
Implementing energy performance measures by the accommodation industry presents opportunities to boost competitiveness, but this is not always well understood and engagement is sometimes limited. Because the sector is fragmented, accessing information about energy or building directives is rather complex.
The neZEH initiative addressed this gap through its approach with pilot countries/hotels, aiming to better inform SMEs and help them to understand the challenges faced by the accommodation industry in relation to energy performance measures. It specified an acceptable levels of energy performance to be a nearly zero energy hotel (neZEH), as well as offering tailored technical assistance for deep energy renovation of the buildings and showcasing best-practice examples. This approach led to primary energy savings of 70% or more compared with pre-renovation performance.
One of the main objectives was to deliver a critical mass of pilot projects moving towards nearly zero energy status through large-scale renovations from seven neZEH countries. The pilot hotels demonstrated the feasibility and profitability to other small and medium sized (SME) hotels and also acted as inspirational examples to foster replication. Sixteen hotels committed to become pilots acting as examples of good practice to achieve nZEB performance levels. These sixteen were spread across the seven countries; 2 pilot hotels in Croatia, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, 3 hotels in Romania and Greece. The hotels represented four main geographical location types; coastal, urban, rural, mountain.
Roll out plan results from each pilot hotel indicated successful achievement in relation to project key performance indicators. The figures below present results by pilot hotel in terms of reductions in primary energy savings, renewable energy triggered, GHG emission reduction and investment.
Replicability: Evidence from the pilot hotels indicated that the proposed measures adopted would be relevant for and implemented by the majority of hotels built over the last 30-40 years, and that by following the neZEH example, most of them would accomplish neZEH status.
Independent energy audits: Comprehensive, proactive and independent energy audits proved to be the determining factor in getting hoteliers started on the road to nearly zero energy status. The audits assisted hoteliers, who found it hugely challenging to decide what measures to take and in what order and proved to be strategically vital for feasibility studies and rollout plans.
Energy audit results indicated that often there were measures that could be quickly taken to reduce energy consumption, the most common being energy management and the installation of management systems early in the renovation process. Such measures required a relatively low investment, but quickly yielded large savings.
Pragmatic renovation approach: Reducing operational costs and boosting was top priority for SME hotels. Reducing energy-related operational costs required significant investment and it became evident that many hoteliers lacked technical knowledge and awareness of energy efficiency issues, in particular neZEH targets, nor had the skilled staff to deal with technical maintenance or energy management issues. The majority of the pilot hotels were unable to prepare own rollout plans, deal with tendering and contracting issues, and were lost when applying for national or international incentives related to energy measures.
Many had difficulties in understanding the full economic benefit of investing in energy measures. The robust and pragmatic neZEH approach helped address these challenges, in particular the independent energy audits, feasibility studies, cost scenarios, roll-out plans, tendering/contracting support and staff training.
Staff engagement and behavioural change: Focus on energy efficiency measures and renewable energy sources alone were not enough for pilot hotels to achieve nearly zero energy status. Active participation by hotel staff and guests was essential in the quest to reduce energy consumption.
Everyone associated with the hotel, both employees and suppliers of services and products, needed to be aware of what they could do to reduce the hotels energy consumption. This is not only fundamental for a successful hotel energy policy; it is inspirational in giving new meaning to the hotel’s business. Simply put, how best to carry out daily activities and assist in maintaining low energy consumption levels; or “thinking nearly zero energy” in everyday working life.
Raising awareness: Awareness raising campaigns targeting the hospitality industry will help to convince hotel owners about the economic viability of becoming a neZEH. Insufficient awareness about the benefits of investing in energy efficiency and RES, as a result of lack of information and advertising, is clearly a huge barrier.
The project demonstrated the value of using promotional activities, such as film/videos, to increase awareness and to tell the stories behind each of the pilot hotels to inspire other hotels. Not only the project video, but also the individual hotel videos have inspired audiences at project conferences and workshops, both nationally and internationally.
National targets and definitions: National nZEB definitions do not sufficiently recognize the specifics of the accommodation industry. They should address the particular building features, uses and operating models, since hotels cannot be considered as typical non-residential buildings; their business models usually include a number of energy intensive operations associated with their customers’ comfort and expectations, which are closely linked with their competitiveness and viability.
The project ran from apr 2013 – mar 2016