Best practices



Tourism and energy consumption

 Hotel facilities rank among the top five in terms of energy consumption in the tertiary building sector.

Most of this energy is derived from fossil sources, and the hotel sector’s contribution to global warming and climate change, is estimated to include annual releases between 160 and 200 kg of CO2 per m2 of room floor area, depending on the fuel mix used to provide energy. 

The main energy consuming activities in a hotel are:

  • heating rooms,
  • cooling rooms,
  • lighting,
  • hot water use and other energy consuming activities by guests,
  • preparing meals (especially warm ones),
  • swimming pool,
  • others

 The relative importance of the different energy end-uses is described as follows:

  • Space conditioning (heating/cooling, ventilation and air-conditioning) is the largest single end-user of energy in hotels, accounting for approximately half of the total consumption – it is thus widely accepted that outdoor weather conditions and floor areas are among the main factors affecting energy use in hotels. The indoor temperature levels also greatly influence the quantity of energy consumed in a building.
  • Domestic hot water is commonly the second largest user, accounting for up to 15 per cent of the total energy demand. Lighting can fluctuate between a range of 12-18 per cent and up to 40 per cent of a hotel’s total energy consumption, depending on the category of the establishment. Services such as catering and laundry also account for a considerable share of energy consumption, particularly considering that they are commonly the least energy-efficient. Sports and health facilities are typically high energy consumers.

 Hotel energy consumption is influenced by physical and operational parameters. The physical parameters common to most buildings include size, structure and design of the building (prevailing architectural / construction practices), geographical and climatic location, the age of the facility, the type of energy and water systems installed, the way these systems are operated and maintained, types and amounts of energy and water resources available locally, as well as energy-use regulations and cost.

Operational parameters that influence energy use in hotels include operating schedules for the different functional facilities in the hotel building, the number of facilities (restaurants, kitchens, in-house laundries, swimming pools and sports centres, business centres, etc.), services offered, fluctuation in occupancy levels, variations in customer preference relevant to indoor comfort, on-site energy conservation practices, as well as culture and awareness of resource consumption among personnel and guests.


The energy saving potential of hotels is significant, especially since a large part of the energy consumption is due to unnecessary loss and wastage.

 Various studies have estimated that hotels have the potential to save at least 10 - 15 per cent of the energy they consume, depending on the age and size of the hotel, as well as type of equipment installed and the maintenance and operating procedures in use. An assessment of potential energy conservation in southern European hotels revealed that there is a potential for 25 - 30 % energy savings, especially in hotels with high annual energy consumption. European studies have estimated savings of 15 - 20 % for heating, 5 - 30 % for cooling, 40 - 70 % for hot water and 7 - 60 % for lighting.

This section of the online educational tool aims to provide an introduction to the best environmental management practices required to measure, monitor, manage and reduce energy consumption in hotels in order to have a more cost effective and environmentally sound energy management system.