Bruno Berardelli, columnist and Managing Director at HWEnergy discusses how hoteliers can support the local economy by making the switch to renewables like biomass..
Corporate Social Responsibility has become an important obligation that holds industry to account for its impact on society and the environment. As a result, building a reputation for being environmentally conscious and nurturing strong links with the local community have become key strategic priorities for businesses of all sizes.
In the hospitality industry this rings especially true, given the competitiveness of the market, its large workforce and resource heavy nature. In recent times the media and consumers have focussed on the provenance of the produce used at hotels and restaurants, highlighting a preference for those who use locally sourced, seasonal foods.
Now, environmental credentials are becoming increasingly more important to consumers. The growth of eco-tourism has been an important driver and schemes like the Green Tourism Business Scheme have made it attractive for businesses to be more environmentally conscious. This positive trend is encouraging more hospitality businesses to make the switch to renewable energy systems, enabling them to reduce overheads as well as cut carbon emissions.
The benefits don’t stop there. Whilst those using oil and gas based systems face the prospect of rising energy bills, green hoteliers can convert savings into investment in new facilities and products, creating new hospitality jobs or new contracts for local suppliers. For biomass users the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme (RHI) provides payment for every kWh of biomass heat generated, ensuring a very attractive return on investment. This is an excellent way to generate funds for further developments and projects such as staff development or hotel refurbishment.
Also, by giving close consideration to the services available locally, hoteliers can demonstrate their commitment to supporting the local community and economy. The renewable energy industry supports thousands of jobs throughout the UK, many of them in rural areas where many forestry, wind and hydro sites are situated.
By choosing green energy, businesses can support jobs and local businesses, and this is particularly true for biomass. The forestry sector contributes billions of pounds to the UK economy every year, providing thousands of high value jobs, often in rural areas. As biomass specialists, HWEnergy sources fuel from local suppliers wherever possible. This not only reduces the miles travelled when delivering fuel, it supports the local industry and local jobs. It also makes it more viable for others to adopt biomass by creating a network of users around a supplier.
An example of where this has worked well is on the Island of Arran off the west coast of Scotland. The Island’s Auchrannie House Hotel has already installed a biomass heating system and is now installing an additional biomass boiler at its spa development.
Working with HWEnergy, local business Arran Energy Ltd provides wood fuel from the island’s plentiful supply. By sourcing fuel from a native business based less than two miles away, the resort is supporting the Arran timber trade as well as reducing the carbon miles travelled by its suppliers.
The success of Auchrannie House Hotel’s biomass system inspired the local hospital to make the switch to biomass in mid 2013. This will cut the hospital’s annual heating bills by an incredible 40%, saving 100 tonnes of CO2 emissions whilst generating an annual income of around £25,000 for reinvestment into patient care.
Once complete the new Auchrannie Spa biomass system will add to Arran Energy Ltd’s network of customers on the island. The business will also benefit from a CO2 saving of around 540 tonnes per annum, whilst earning around £60,000 each year in RHI.