Hospitality Services aiming for efficiency in energy challenge

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State's Hospitality Services has just installed a sophisticated utility control system which is expected to save its two hotels about $350,000 a year. As the new control systems are activated all hotel employees are being challenged to play a key role in energy conservation.

Hospitality Services, a long-time supporter of Penn State’s Strategic Plan for Sustainability, has established a new energy conservation goal. Jim Purdum, general manager of Hospitality Services, is challenging his staff to reduce their utility costs by 25 percent. Last year, the utility costs related to lighting, heating and cooling from May 15 to June 15 was $111,819. "Our goal is to reduce that cost by 25 percent, or $28,000. That’s a very aggressive goal but I’m confident that by working together and helping each other identify every possible opportunity to reduce energy consumption, we can achieve this kind of savings."

Each year Hospitality Services spends more than $2 million on utilities (electricity, gas, water/sewer and steam) to run their facilities. They have invested nearly $3 million working with the University's Office of Physical Plant and Ameresco, a company that specializes in reducing energy consumption, to implement this energy savings project. This project was made possible through a special fund that was established to support the goal of creating a more environmentally friendly and sustainable university. This special fund uses savings from reduced energy consumption to pay back the amount borrowed for the project. After the funds have been repaid, the savings will accrue directly to the hotels.

"Going green" is nothing new to Hospitality Services. Jim Purdum and his Green Team members have made Penn State a leader in environmental hospitality. In 1991 Hospitality Services was honored for having the first in-room guest recycling service in Pennsylvania. Their restaurant cooking oils end up as bio-diesel fuel for Penn State vehicles and other food waste is composted and used for mulch in the campus landscaping. Hotel menus include many local source foods and group servings are provided in bulk instead of individual wrappings. Even the hotel recycling bins are made from old headboards.

Purdum said guest comfort is expected to be enhanced, thanks to the new energy management and monitoring system. The project will serve as a real world business model for Penn State’s environmental strategy.

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Last Updated May 09, 2012