The Hotel Industry: Current Situation and Its Steps Beyond Sustainability

Santorini (Greece)

The tourism industry, and particularly the hotel sector, is becoming increasingly competitive and dynamic, motivated by the pressures of globalized supply and demand (Oliveira et al. 2013). In fact, over the past six decades, despite occasional shocks, tourism has experienced almost uninterrupted growth and diversification, becoming one of the largest and fastest-growing economic sectors in the world.

This pattern has continued in recent years, despite the global financial and economic crisis, with tourism having the potential to be one of the main engines of recovery in the EU.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, in 2012 — for the first time in history — there were more than one billion international tourist arrivals.

Europe remained the most frequently visited region in the world, accounting for over half of all international tourist arrivals in 2012. The wealth of European cultures, the variety of its landscapes, and the quality of its tourist infrastructure are likely to be among the reasons that tourists choose to take their holidays in Europe.

But the tourism industry is under pressure to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions (Dalton et al. 2008). Therefore, one of the main trends dominating the sector is the search for a continuous and systematic improvement of processes and resources toward efficiency (Chen 2007; Pestana Barros 2005). Differences in markets, tradable products, quality, facilities, location, and differentiations in prices, among other aspects, can generate the critical factors of success and viability of these enterprises (Farrou et al. 2012). Thus, this is slowly responding to the task with the implementation of energy efficiency initiatives and the adoption of renewable energy supplies (RESs) (Karagiorgas et al. 2004). Specifically, the building sector in Greece accounts for about one-third of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and for about 36 % of the total energy consumption. CO2 emissions from the building sector have an annual growth rate of around 4 %, constantly inflating the energy consumption of buildings (Theodoridou et al. 2011). Even so, there is no specific legislative requirement or even a comprehensive energy efficiency strategy at present for the tourism industry to reduce its energy use and to adopt RES.

The only legislative measure that applies for any kind of building is the implementation of the European Buildings’ Directive EPBD (Energy Performance of Buildings), which began in 2002 and was completed in the summer of 2010. Along the lines of EPBD, several regulations for the EU countries have been launched; they have set specific limitations and minimum requirements for energy efficiency concerning the design and construction of various building types. However, emphasis is put on improving the energy performance of the residential building stock; therefore, in order to evaluate the existing building stock of hotels and to determine their energy consumption, a thorough investigation has to be carried out (Boemi et al. 2011).

-An Overview of Energy Performance in Hotels

A review of the literature has shown that the performance of hotels has been a topic of long-time interest to academics who adopt a plethora of approaches, such as finance (Phillips and Sipahioglu 2004), economics (Chen and Dimou 2005), international business (Quer et al. 2007) and energy demand in terms of the energy use index or energy intensity (defined as the site energy consumption per unit of gross floor area) (Yu and Lee 2009).

In most cases, a number of international studies on resource consumption in hotels and other accommodation facilities have been performed. Furthermore, some consumption indicators are also included in the environmental reports of hotel companies. However, only a few cases actually investigated the influence of various operational characteristics of energy and water consumption. Most investigations focused on determining the consumption indicators for various regions (Bohdanowicz and Martinac 2007).

In general, the subject of energy consumption in the hotel industry has been developing since the 1990s and has focused on the energy use index (energy intensity), which is defined as the building energy consumption per unit of gross floor area. The first study was reported in 1991 where the average annual energy intensity of hotel buildings in Ottawa (Canada) was reported to be 688.7 kWh/m2 (Bohdanowicz and Martinac 2007). Since then, the average consumption of hotel buildings has been reported in several countries.

Worldwide, a study of the Australian hotel industry (Becken et al. 2001), analyzed five different accommodation categories (15 hotels, 22 bed-and-breakfast, 20 motels, 35 hostels, and 13 campgrounds) on the west coast of New Zealand, and reported an energy demand of 277.78 kWh/m2 or 34 m2/bed (Becken et al. 2001). In Ottawa, researchers investigated energy use in 16 hotels, and the average energy consumption was found to be 688.7 kWh/m2 (Deng and Burnett 2000). In Singapore, the energy use intensity of 29 hotels was 427.0 kWh/m2 (Priyadarsini et al. 2009). Deng and Burnett reported an average energy use intensity of 564.0 kWh/m2 when studying the energy performance of 16 hotels in Hong Kong; in another study in 2003, the same researchers presented an energy use intensity of 542.0 kWh/m2 in 36 Hong Kong hotels. Önüt and Soner (2006) studied the energy breakdown of 32 five-star hotels in the Antalya region of Turkey and found that the energy use intensity was 400.0 kWh/m2.

In the EU, Bohdanowicz and Martinac (2007) reported that the average energy use for European hotels in the 1990s was between 239.0 and 300.0 kWh/ m2 year. More analytically, Santamouris et al. (1996) collected energy consumption data from 158 Greek hotels and estimated the energy savings potential of various retrofitting scenarios. The annual average total energy consumption was measured as 273.0 kWh/m2. This is similar to what was reported by Markis and Paravantis (2007), who found that the hotels’ energy use is equal to 297.0 kWh/m2. In addition, Farrou et al. (2012) wrote that average electricity and termal energy consumption is calculated to be approximately 290 kWh/m2 year for hotels that operate all year round, and approximately 200 kWh/m2 year for hotels with seasonal operation. In the other Mediterranean countries, hotel energy use was reported to be 215.0 kWh/m2 for Italy, 278.0 kWh/m2 for Spain, and 420.0 kWh/m2 for France (Farrou et al. 2012).. The aforementioned research on hotel efficiency gives a clear understanding of the fluctuation of the energy use intensity across major tourism places. But it has to be mentioned that a great fluctuation appears in the value of the annual average consumption not only among various counties, but also among regions of the same country and even for the same country over different periods of time, which is a result of the different climatic conditions and operational characteristics of hotels globally, as was reported by Pieri et al. (2015).

To read more:
S.N. Boemi, O. Irulegi, The hotel industry: current situation and steps beyond sustainability, in: S.N. Boemi, O. Irulegi, M. Santamouris (Eds.), Energy performance of buildings. Energy efficiciency and built environment in temperate climates, Springer, Cham, Heidelberg, New York, Dordrecht, London, 2016, pp.235–250.