An Eco-Conscious Guest House's Journey Towards Energy Sustainability
energyⁿ manager|April - June 2019
This article presents the efforts of a sea-front eco-conscious guest house in Puducherry in lowering its energy footprint without compromising the services provided to the guests.
Brahmanand Mohanty & Devashish Patnaik

Introduction

Everything that we need for our survival and wellbeing depends on our natural environment. It is therefore important to create and maintain conditions under which humans and nature can co-exist in harmony to support our present and future generations.

The hospitality sector is one of the most resource-intensive in terms of energy and water use as well as the amount of waste generated. Substantial quantities of energy and water are consumed in providing services to guests and beautifying the surroundings. Moreover, the hospitality sector also pollutes the surrounding environment by discharging high volumes of untreated sewage and garbage without adequate separation, recovery, recycling or treatment, posing significant environmental threats. Yet, the hospitality sector can live up to the impending challenges of global warming and climate change by playing a catalytic role in the preservation of environmental resources and achieve sustainability as well as economic efficiency. This article presents the efforts of a sea-front eco-conscious guest house in Puducherry in lowering its energy footprint without compromising the services provided to the guests.

Background of eco-initiatives

A plot of land was purchased in 1946 at the seafront to serve as a coal yard, which was later converted to serve as a dormitory with very basic facilities. From the early 1980s, major construction work was started to turn it into a guest house as one can see it today. While the total area is 5,980 m , the built-up area occupies a little over 1/3rd, leaving the remaining space as a zealously preserved lush garden, more than half of which is a sprawling lawn. The natural surroundings with the ocean and garden have a tremendous influence on the atmosphere of the guest house. Visitors from all cultures and walks of life come for a taste of peace and beauty in this guest house. This atmosphere of natural beauty tends to encourage guests to have a degree of respect and gratitude for the environment.

Over the years, the guest house has made conscious efforts to create a nature-friendly environment for the guests. The campus has been emphasizing the use of natural materials to the extent possible while developing the garden architecture. Native plants and grass varieties that require less water are favoured. No pesticide is used for maintaining the lawn and the green space because the native plants are more resistant to pests and diseases. Many types of birds are found in the garden and earthworms improve the fertility of the soil. Guests are invited to walk on the lawns and undertake outdoor activities in fresh air. The green coverage allows to reduce temperature extremes by absorbing the sun's heat during the day and releasing it slowly in the evening, thus moderating the temperature. Moreover, grass in the lawn scatters the solar radiation, greatly minimizing the glare. The turf cools itself and its surrounding by the evapotranspiration process. Also, the dense turf absorbs, deflects, reflects and refracts sounds.

Sustainable energy initiative

The guest house management was enthusiastic to serve as an exemplary entry point for showcasing efforts towards achieving energy sustainability. Hence the idea of managing energy better, using energy more efficiently and reducing avoidable waste while ensuring the comfort of guests, became a top priority. Making the guest house less dependent on the electricity generated from coal-fired power plants would help in fulfilling the moral responsibility of not wasting precious resources that are scarcely available to a sizeable population in the country. The results of the efforts to become energy-frugal would be the first step to render the guest house energy-efficient. By adopting efficient energy use practices, the guest house would set a concrete example for the guests to follow in the same path of reducing one's dependency on fossil fuels.

To start with, a baseline study of the energy use in the guest house was conducted with the following objectives:

Develop a good understanding of the existing energy consumption pattern of the guest house for the various energy services that are provided to the guests, such as lighting, hot water, cooling, water pumping etc.

Identify performance improvement measures with high energy savings potential.

Implement solutions that reduce the energy consumption cost-effectively with reasonable payback periods in comparison with the clean energy supply options, notably roof-top solar energy generation.

Knowing how much the guest house is paying for electricity and how that electricity is used is an important part of good energy management. Acquiring relevant data and their proper analysis gave an idea about how and where energy was being used and for what purpose. Data collection included visual inspection of the building and its facilities, the electrical layout and placement of electrical meters, measurements to assess the energy consumption pattern and the share of electricity used for providing the different energy services.

The shares of the different electricity loads are shown in Figure 2. The electrical load to provide hot water was found to have the highest share of 37%, followed by the cooling load (27%). Lights and fans accounted for about a quarter of the total installed capacity. It is to be noted that only a few guestrooms are equipped with air conditioning in line with the requests received from some regular guests coming from different parts of the country and abroad.

Electricity consumption pattern

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