WaterSense H2Otel Challenge

In February 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the WaterSense H2Otel Challenge to encourage hotels to “ACT.”

• Assess water use and savings opportunities
• Change products or processes to incorporate best management practices
• Track their water-saving progress and achievements

In the H2Otel Challenge’s second year, WaterSense is engaging partners to educate and recruit hotels to start saving water. H2Otel Challenge participants receive recognition, outreach, and technical tools to help them save water and energy while contributing to their bottom line.

In order to start identifying and tracking their water savings hotels can take advantage of The WaterSense WaterUSE Tool and the associated Water Assessment Worksheets to identify and prioritize cost–effective water efficiency projects and incorporate best management practices to reduce water and energy use. The worksheets guide a user through a water assessment of their hotel. Based on facility–specific inputs entered by the user, the WaterUSE Tool provides recommended best management practices and calculates potential water and cost savings for water–saving projects.  

Hotels that do not have their own sustainability tracking software can collect their utility bills and enter them into a utility tracking software program like EPA ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager. The program provides a user-friendly way to track both energy, water, and other sustainability metrics all in one place. Facility managers can install smart meters to electronically record water use data in real time.  These smart meters can also be used on specific areas such as irrigation systems, cooling towers, and steam systems to more accurately manage water use.   

“We know that hotel facility managers are busy” Blette said. “In order to make their jobs easier, the H2Otel Challenge will provide free technical tools and webinars to help them assess their water usage and identify water saving opportunities.”

To date, more than 800 hotel locations have signed up for the challenge. Hotels of all sizes and types are participating. Major chains represented include Marriott and its family of brands (Courtyard, Ritz Carlton, Residence Inn, Fairfield Inn), Wyndham, WorldMark, Radisson, Country Inn and Suites, Doubletree, Sheraton, Hyatt, Caesar’s Entertainment, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group and independent hotels and resorts, such as Kalaloch Lodge in Glacier National Park. 

“The WaterSense H2Otel Challenge also provides hotels in drought-affected areas of the country to demonstrate their commitment to their local community by undertaking water-efficient practices,” said Veronica Blette, branch chief at WaterSense. “In addition to reducing water use and associated water and sewer bills, we know that significant energy savings can be realized by reducing the amount of water they need to heat.”

The WaterSense program was created to help transform the marketplace for products and services that use water, and instill a nationwide ethic of water efficiency. To accomplish these goals, the EPA has focused on water efficient products, best management practices, and people – partners, professionals and the general public. Last year, the challenge was about educating and developing a suite of technical tools and promotional materials to help hotels start water-efficient efforts.  

“We held a number of technical webinars based on sections in WaterSense at Work, a compilation of water-efficiency best management practices (WaterSense at Work Best Management Practices available online). The guide can help commercial and institutional facilities understand and better manage their water use, establish an effective water management program, and identify projects and practices that can reduce facility water use,” Blette explained.

In 2015, EPA’s WaterSense program introduced a Recruiting Rally to build momentum and encourage WaterSense’s promotional partners (partnership and participation is voluntary and free), i.e., a utility, state/local government, trade association, or non-profit organization to recruit hotels to join the challenge. The WaterSense promotional partner that recruits the most hotels during the challenge will earn a free onsite water assessment at a hotel of its choice, as well as a water savings workshop for hotels in their area. 

“Our partners have helped us get the word out to their local area hotels about the challenge to save water. We feel their participation and enthusiasm is a win-win for the campaign,” Blette noted.

Manufacturers play a key role for WaterSense, as they make the labeled products that use at least 20 percent less water while performing as well or better than standard models.  The Kohler Company is one of the manufacturers that has signed up for the 2015 challenge as a recruiter.

The WaterSense label can be found on more than 14,000 models of tank-type toilets, lavatory faucets, showerheads, flushing urinals, weather-based irrigation controllers, and commercial kitchen pre-rinse spray valves. It is not a requirement that hotels install new fixtures to participate in the challenge, although their efforts to assess water use may identify replacement as an opportunity to achieve savings. WaterSense can help hotels meet saving objectives from the back of the house to the guestrooms and lobby as effortlessly and seamlessly as possible so they can concentrate on what’s important — the guest experience.  

Several non-profit organizations are participating and supporting the challenge including the Alliance for Water Efficiency, the National Sustainable Hospitality Network, the American Green Lodging and Hospitality Association, Boston Green Tourism, and Green Destination Orlando.

Trade associations are also supporting the challenge. Some that are participating this year include the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), the American Water Works Association (AWWA), International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), the Association of Green Property Owners and Managers, Inc. (AGPOM).

To get involved visit www.epa.gov/watersense/ commercial/challenge.html.