Premier Inn Burgess Hill sets new standards

    150 150 Daniel Fountain
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    Opening in November, the team from Whitbread regard Premier Inn Burgess Hill as a working prototype of the new iteration of a reduced carbon hotel. It was apparent as the conversations developed during the morning that this wasn’t just about the build, but marked part of a shift in the company culture. Not just the buildings are under scrutiny but the hotel’s total impact on the environment and community is also being changed. This is an ambitious and profitable company that shows how to achieve added profitability by environmentally friendly measures. We were briefed in the site hut on the gains the company is making through using the new tools available as part of a change in the systems for energy conservation that are coming into play now. An example of the use of these tools is in the new smart metering systems now being installed in their hotels.

    I first saw these metering systems installed in the Burgess Furniture factory where the ability to get reading of energy consumption every half hour had saved the company hundreds of pounds by identifying billing errors from the power supplier. Here Premier have started to aggregate and analyse the data with surprising results. For example the water metering showed their peak use of water was not in the mornings or evening as guest showered or bathed, but rather in the middle of the day. Questioning established that the routine for housekeeping involved flushing the guestroom toilet three times in the process of cleaning. Changing the methods used to reduce this led to a decrease of water consumption representing a £1,000,000 annual saving across the estate. A further £600,000 will be saved by installing low flow shower heads in all guest rooms – an annual return of £1.6milllion ($2.5million)straight to the bottom line.

    This was just one example of the savings that can be made, and the new building at Burgess Hill, the 600th Premier Inn extends the lessons learned from the first eco-installations at Tamworth. With 85% of the estate owned by the company a return of 17 or 18 years (which is the longest period for return) is acceptable in hotel operations planned for a minimum of 25 year life. Some of the remaining franchised units are being handed back to the owners because the company has found it cannot make the return it makes on owned units, opening up questions about the rush to the franchise model by operators like Rezidor and Intercontinental. Of course the value of the estate has to be taken into account when calculating the return on capital employed, but it also must help underpin the share value. It also seems that total control of the building can make an operating unit more profitable too.

    Daniel Fountain / 19.09.2010

    Editor, Hotel Designs


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