Propane Fuels the Hospitality Industry

By Tucker Perkins, Propane Education & Research Council

Indulge your guests’ experience while reducing operating costs using clean-burning, abundant, affordable propane

The hospitality industry has a unique opportunity to identify an energy solution that achieves the diverse needs of hotels and resorts, while ensuring a standard of excellence in maintenance and operations of facilities, landscaping and lawn care, outdoor amenities, and transportation.

That solution is propane, which provides a number of energy-efficient ways to manage your property’s utility bills while maintaining comfort and adding unique touches to suit your guests.

First impressions

The first impression of your property sets the tone for your guests’ stay. A beautifully maintained landscape is an important part of that image. Commercial mowers fueled by propane help maintain grounds efficiently while reducing emissions, which means cleaner air around your property without compromising its appearance. In fact, operating a propane mower provides a 50 percent reduction in your greenhouse gas emissions, and an 80 percent reduction in carbon monoxide compared with a gasoline mower. Plus, propane-fueled mowers often can be operated on ozone-alert days when local regulations ban the use of gasoline mowers.

Resort savings

In Manchester Village, Vt., the Equinox Resort & Spa saves 50 percent per gallon for propane, compared to its heating oil. Propane fuels the resort’s portable heaters and grills, pools, and hot tubs. In the kitchen, propane burners and fryers provide instant heat, precise temperature control, and even heat distribution. “Propane has been a big part of our program,” says Rick Crosby, chief engineer at the resort, which implemented an environmental stewardship and sustainability program in 2006. “The fuel is clean, efficient, and cost effective.”

The Equinox fuels its laundry appliances with propane, too. Choosing propane options for linen dryers and for heating water in washers can provide significant savings. When heating water, propane can reduce energy costs by up to 50 percent and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 61 percent compared with standard electric models.

And, propane clothes and linen dryers offer the same features as their electrical counterparts, while improving drying speed and protecting the linens from damage because of the moist heat propane provides. Operating energy-efficient propane water heating systems will ensure your washers don't put a larger strain on your operating budget.

Massanutten Resort in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley also uses propane for linen drying in its commercial laundry. The resort favors propane for water heating, too. Energy efficient tankless propane water heaters supply the hot water for showers in the resort’s timeshare units and in the recreation center and day spa.

High efficiency, low emissions
At the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club, a propane-fueled combined heat and power system (CHP) generates electricity and provides heat with higher efficiency and lower emissions than conventional heating and power generative alternatives. By using a CHP, the resort reduces its carbon dioxide emissions at a rate equivalent to a reduction of 1,623 passenger vehicles from the road each year.

A CHP system may be a good choice for resorts with a consistent high demand for power and hot water; areas with high grid-supplied electricity costs; or a short-term demand to replace aging or inefficient boilers or other equipment.

Outdoor spaces

The Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club enhances its outdoor spaces and creates a unique ambiance with propane-fueled tiki torches. Propane outdoor lighting features are available in portable and post-mounted styles, offering flexibility in design and energy efficiency, and creating a lasting impression.

The Equinox extends the outdoor living season with fire pits, hearths, and portable heaters fueled by propane. These cozy amenities can increase the outdoor air temperature by as much as 30 degrees. The Equinox’s fire pit uses flexible gas piping, making it easy to deliver the fuel.

Clean transportation

Vehicles fueled by propane are an economical way to both transport guests and maintain the property. Whether it is a van shuttling guests to the airport or the maintenance crew driving their trucks to make a repair, these alternative fuel vehicles save money by cutting fuel and operating costs by 30 to 50 percent compared with diesel and gasoline. Known as autogas when used in on-road engines, propane is a low-carbon fuel that reduces harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

On-site storage

Propane can fuel your property discreetly from below-ground tanks. This type of propane tank can be buried with minimal excavation costs, leaving only a small dome visible just a few inches above the ground. Whether through landscaping or tank burial, your local propane company can help you place propane tanks of any size in locations that won’t affect curb appeal or your guests’ experience.

Massanutten’s residential locations are located along 35 miles of road encircling the main resort complex. “Because our resort is so large and spread out, the cost of regularly adding connections to a natural gas line would have been prohibitive,” says Mike Shiflet, physical plant director. Regularly scheduled propane deliveries fill the more than 150 above- and below-ground tanks that supply the fuel to the resort’s nine residential neighborhoods and the central hotel and water park.

Available incentives

With a little investigation, you’ll discover tax incentives, programs, and rebates available for propane usage. The Propane Education & Research Council offers resources as well as propane incentive funding. Your resort may be eligible for up to $10,000 through the Heat and Power Incentive Program and an additional $25,000 toward the purchase or conversion of commercial mowers through the Mower Incentive Program.

American-made, clean burning, and readily available propane can provide the fuel needed that will keep your operating costs low and your guests coming back time after time.

About the Author

Tucker Perkins is the chief business development officer of the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) in Washington, D.C. PERC is a check-off program established, operated, and funded by the propane industry. PERC leads safety and training efforts among propane retailers and drives technology development to expand adoption of propane as a clean, domestic, and affordable energy source. PERC programs benefit a variety of industries including fleet vehicle management, landscaping, residential and commercial building, agriculture, and material handling. For more information, visit propanecouncil.org.

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