What Drove Hotels to into the Water Reduction Era?

hotel bathroom, hotel water consumption

For decades, hotels have known they use vast volumes of water.  While it has always been a cost consideration, for the most part, water in the U.S. has always been cheap. These charges were viewed as necessary, but not overburdening, operating expenses. 

That all began to change in the 1990s when water rates began to rise.  However, even with the cost of water increasing in many parts of the country, hotels were often reluctant to make any changes when it came to reducing consumption.

The big concern, of course, was that if steps were taken, guest satisfaction could suffer.  Even the policy of changing linens every second or third day for guests staying multiple nights took a while to catch on.  Most hotel administrators let other hotels test the waters first, so to speak, before accepting this policy.

So, one of the first drivers for embracing water efficiency and reducing water consumption is the cost of the water itself. And remember, we pay for water twice: once when it is delivered to the hotel property and again when it is taken away for treatment.  Both of these charges are now tacked on to hotel water bills.

A second reason is the need to reduce costs by decreasing operating expenses through more efficient water use. A few years back, McGraw-Hill Construction estimated that by implementing water-efficient measures, commercial buildings could decrease operating costs by as much as 11 percent.  To do this, many hotels with on-site laundry operations - which can account for more than 16 percent of a hotel's water consumption – installed more water efficient washers and turned to cold water laundry washing detergents.  These steps helped reduce water consumption and energy.

A third reason for the arrival of the water efficiency era is water regulations and restrictions. These have been implemented in many parts of the country, but most specifically in the Southwest and California. Mandates were enacted that required both consumers and commercial property customers to reduce consumption by specific amounts.

While we could view these as regional mandates because they were first instituted in certain areas of the country, they had a distinct benefit for water efficiency nationwide.  Because California is the fifth largest economy in the world, manufacturers of all types of water-using systems found it more economical to have their products across the board meet the state's water-restriction standards. Producing two types of systems  - one for California and the other for everyone else  - was just cost prohibitive.

Lastly, people's attitudes toward water efficiency has changed. After the first oil crisis in the early 1970s, Walter Cronkite, the newscaster who was then viewed as "the most trusted man in America," traveled to Scandinavia. Cronkite’s reports on how buildings were constructed in Norway, Denmark, and Sweden to reduce energy consumption introduced America to the idea that similar steps were possible here, and the country believed him. This is one reason that from that time forward, buildings in the U.S. began to be constructed with energy savings in mind.

While news delivery has changed, the fact that America must reduce water consumption is now realized and accepted as fact.  Beyond that, Generation Xers and Millennials expect it. People in these age groups are becoming the primary travelers in the U.S. and around the world. To win their business, water-reducing strategies such as the installation of waterless urinals and other hotel water efficiency measures can no longer stay in the testing phase.  These travelers expect to see them in the hotel properties they stay in.

For more information on ways to reduce water consumption in any type of facility, contact a Waterless Co representative at 800-244-6364.