In the start of a concerted portfolio energy sustainability drive, 20 hotels in the Protea Hospitality Group have in the past year been fitted with lighting or water heating energy saving devices that substantially reduce those properties overall electricity consumption.

The retrofits of lighting and water heating systems makes sense not only from a sustainability perspective, says Protea Hospitality Group Operations Director William Ford, but also from a savings perspective for hoteliers who face ever-increasing input costs that reduce already narrow profit margins.

It makes sense for hoteliers to look at installing energy-efficient lighting and water heating systems. If you plan intelligently the capital expenditure doesnt have to be vast and its also good to have a discussion with Eskom, which for certain conversions is offering rebates, Ford said.

He used the example of one Cape Town hotel that had retrofitted new technology LED systems in all its public spaces earlier this year. By retrofitting corridors; reception; lounge, bar and pool areas; smoking room, rest rooms; the restaurant and kitchen; as well as all conference rooms and board rooms in the business centre, the gym and parking garage, the hotel was saving nearly R20000 a month on electricity bills.

These energy-saving retrofits in Protea Hospitality Group properties across South Africa arent part of a new approach; theyre simply a component of our ongoing policy towards common sustainability that includes the environment and society, said Ford. Sustainable planning simply has to be part of every responsible corporate entitys strategic objectives.

Ford said the Protea Hospitality Group was actively motivating for the owners of hotels within the Protea Hotels and African Pride Hotels portfolios to do retrofits. A number of areas of South Africa are experiencing regular power outages again and hotels are big consumers of power. Reducing consumption not only makes you a good citizen of the earth, but also a good neighbour.

Perhaps more importantly in a severely strained global economy and tough local trading conditions, Ford said, was the long-term operating costs reduction that could clearly be observed from the first month.

Industrial and commercial businesses in South Africa are all grappling with steep increases in municipal service costs and its going to get worse before it gets better. Protea Hotels believes driving an energy-efficiency initiative such as this is not only good for the planet, but its also good for the long-term sustainability of the hospitality industry.

The hotel group has in the past year also begun a roll-out to remove environmentally damaging plastic water bottles from its conference venues and switched over recyclable glass bottles that contain purified water bottled on site, which further reduces the carbon footprint.

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