The 208-room Westin Resort Macau passed a milestone last month that would be the envy of many much larger hotels - two million US dollars in net savings from its energy management efforts.
Not only have these savings accrued net of costs, and adjusted for changing weather and business levels; they have also accumulated despite the addition of significant energy-consuming actions undertaken to enhance the guest experience, the most significant of which was to commence cooling the outdoor swimming pool through Macau’s long hot summer.
“This two million dollars did not pile up overnight”, commented Akram Touma, the General Manager of The Westin Resort Macau. It required consistent effort, target-setting, measurement, and attention to detail. “Effective energy management formed part of our strategies to improve guest satisfaction since the mid 90s. It all began in 1995, when The Westin Resort Macau appointed a Hong Kong firm, Energy Resources Management, to carry out a detailed energy audit and to advise what technical, operational, and financial opportunities existed” he explained.
Using that firm as its energy management coach ever since, the hotel has been able to average $235,000 a year in savings, and to dramatically reduce its environmental footprint at the same time. Fifteen million kilograms of carbon dioxide less, just for starters. And since Macau electricity is generated by burning fuel oil, the quantity of sulphurous and nitrous oxides and mercury reduced is also no small matter.
This hotel’s approach to energy management has not been the simplistic “cut, cut, cut” so commonly seen when firms launch their energy management efforts. Instead, their battle cry is “manage, manage, manage”. The Westin Resort Macau decision-makers did not buy a few black boxes and then move onto something else. Instead, they acknowledged energy management as a hotel-wide challenge, requiring the concerted efforts of human resources, purchasing, rooms, food and beverage, engineering, accounting, and many others to fashion a truly optimal energy consumption profile for the benefit of shareholders, guests, staff, and the environment.
Their goal was not simply to save energy, but rather to gain the maximum possible value from their use of this expensive and multifaceted resource. Guest satisfaction, staff productivity, corporate reputation, plant longevity, risk management and environmental footprint are just a few of the areas where they identified potential to enhance shareholder value. The hotel’s management and staff developed plans to find and capture this value to its full measure.
The pool cooling mentioned is just one example. Guest satisfaction index results, a key performance indicator for all Westin Hotels & Resorts, indicated that the pool water temperature from April to November was an area of opportunity. Chief Engineer Romulo Estrada and his team devised a way to employ the hotel’s chiller plant to bring down the pool temperature and bring up the guest satisfaction index.
Another example of ‘guests first’ was the upgrading of lobby and lobby lounge air conditioning, since both these areas had been difficult to keep well dehumidified from the hotel’s opening day. Bigger electricity bills resulted, but so did happier guests (to say nothing of the staff who worked in those areas).
Productivity and product quality decisions led to higher energy use in another area - the main kitchen, where gas convection ovens were replaced with electric powered units. The multi-million dollar savings came to fruition despite all these changes.
At the same time as more energy was being used in order to meet specific business goals, energy conserving measures were also possible - and steadily harvested. A revolving door was installed to reduce the amount of hot, unfiltered air coming in at the hotel’s main entrance. Heating of the jacuzzi was switched from electric to steam (fuel switching is a strategy many large energy users fail to recognise). Shading was installed over the Chinese restaurant’s east-facing windows.
Excellence in managing any resource requires consistent effort. It requires a clear and accurate understanding of the current situation, a plan to achieve specific goals, and the means to measure progress along a series of milestones. The Westin Resort Macau has risen to this challenge and produced measured, verifiable outcomes. Their efforts are set to continue. “Energy management excellence is one of many Westin Resort Macau competitive advantages” stated Akram. “It is our commitment to our customers; it is one of our means to enhance guests’ satisfaction. Enhancing guests’ satisfaction is not a pet project, but a way of doing business,” he promised.