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Hospitality and food service resource efficiency challenge

Hotels and restaurants face particular challenges when trying to save energy and minimise waste, but we can help turn them into bottom line opportunities 

hospitality food banquet

Hotels and restaurants have come a long way from their roots as resting places for travellers and pilgrims. In Scotland, you can take your pick between historic country houses, converted castles, cutesy B&Bs, global conglomerates, luxury spas and restaurants offering food from all over the world. People want choice and hospitality that’s warm, cosy, friendly and clean. And they increasingly want it green.

Growing environmental awareness combined with changes in resource efficiency legislation, and the rising cost of utilities, has nudged many businesses to change the way they operate. The hotel and restaurant industry is no exception, but this is an industry that typically consumes large amounts of energy and water. The challenge for businesses here is to maintain top comfort and service for customers while reducing their energy use and minimising waste.

It’s not just a platitude that every challenge is also an opportunity. Burying your head in the sand is not an option. Making investments now in resource efficiency can save you cash, help to future-proof a business and reap dividends in years to come. And with incentives such the Scottish Government  SME Loans and  renewable heat incentives(RHI) payments, it’s easier than ever to embrace change and be a leader, not a follower – a roadrunner, not an ostrich.


The saving energy challenge

Heating bills can be a huge expense for hotels and restaurants. Despite our weather, a lot of older buildings in Scotland were not built to withstand a cold and damp environment. To make matters worse, many tourist businesses are in rural areas and not on the gas network. For years, such businesses have been stuck with expensive energy options such as oil or electric. The challenge has been to keep guests comfortable while not going bankrupt. Now hotels and restaurants are being asked to reduce their overall energy use to reduce carbon emissions.

Thankfully, there are the options to reduce energy use while keeping comfort levels high. Good insulation is a must, of course, to retain as much of the heat as possible. This is especially true if you’re installing any kind of heat pump. They work best when the heat is on constantly but at low temperatures. In addition to heat pumps there are a whole host of renewable energy alternatives such as biomass boilers, solar thermal for water heating and solar photovoltaic (PV). While these will require you to make a significant investment, they can make good financial sense in the long run.

Interest-free loans can help, and payback periods are generally well within the lifetime of the system. Highland Farm Cottages in Dingwall discovered they could save almost £20,000 a year by swapping their old LPG boiler for a new biomass boiler. If you're a hospitality business, it could be time to ditch the hot water bottles and candles and invest in some truly cosy, cost- and carbon-saving renewables.


The saving water challenge

There are two costs involved with water use in hospitality businesses. The indirect energy cost from heating water for showers, baths, laundry and washing. And the direct cost of water, which can be surprisingly high for a resource that appears to be plentiful. Solar thermal systems, which use the free heat of the sun, are one option for reducing energy costs. However, in the darker months of winter you may need a backup system to heat water to the temperatures required.

A host of other measures can help you save on both energy and direct water costs. Installing special tap and shower fittings can reduce water flow rate. Infrared sensors can cut down on water flushed away in toilets and urinals. Other simple measures include fixing leaks, and water harvesting or re-using water in grey water systems. You can find out more in our comprehensive guide, on how to save money on your water bill.


The food waste prevention challenge

When you consider that 1.4m tonnes of food is thrown away in Scotland each year, then you begin to understand the scale of savings that are on the table when it comes to cutting food waste. That’s one plate in every six wasted in hotels and restaurants. And this is costing businesses money. A 240-litre waste bin costs you £240 in purchase and waste disposal costs. So cutting down on food waste is an obvious way to save money.

When Crieff Hydro Hotel took part in an eight-week trial to measure and monitor food waste in its restaurant operation, it identified £51,000 of potential savings a year. This was a big sum that could be achieved through making a series of small and simple changes – recycling cooking oil, offering dishes that could be used throughout the day on multiple menus, and finding uses for vegetable trimmings in soups and stock. They also discovered they could reduce waste by purchasing what they need on a daily basis, and employing rigorous stock and portion controls.


Take control of your resources with our support

Saving resources can certainly seem like a challenge. But you can often make a big difference to your bottom line with even some small changes. At Resource Efficient Scotland we have years of experience helping businesses in the hotel and restaurant industry. Call us on 0808 808 2268 for help turning your challenges into opportunities, and to stay competitive in an increasingly resource-constrained world.

Our support to reduce your business costs is funded by the Scottish Government and by the European Regional Development Fund through the £73 million Resource Efficiency Circular Economy Accelerator Programme.


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