06 January 2005 | Cara Whitehouse
Whitbread is looking to shave 17 per cent off its utilities bills over the next two years with the creation of a dedicated energy management team.
The team, which procurement is helping to assemble, will have about six people and should be in place by March.
It will liaise closely with the procurement department to manage supply and demand, while working to drive down energy consumption.
Excess energy usage and water leaks will be targeted across the company's portfolio of businesses, which include the Marriott hotel chain, Pizza Hut and David Lloyd Leisure centres.
Claire Hornsby, procurement manager at Whitbread, told SM: "This is a great example of procurement working closely with the business to identify a problem and achieve buy-in to solve it.
"Energy costs are rising, so the business will listen to ways it can mitigate the hit."
She added: "The new team will create a centre of excellence for the company from which best practice can be shared through its businesses."
The creation of the team follows initiatives by the central procurement department that have reduced energy use by 7.8 per cent.
Carbon dioxide emissions have been cut by almost 25,000 tonnes, for which Whitbread won an energy efficiency accreditation from the National Energy Foundation.
Hornsby added that the company saved about £470,000 annually by reducing water consumption by more than 260,000 cubic metres, primarily by identifying and fixing leaks.
"You cannot manage something that you can't measure. We needed to understand how much energy each site should be using, so we set up a database recording consumption, not cost."
To get information that was detailed enough, Whitbread and an external energy management team established a metering system to monitor sites half-hourly. From this data, it was able to challenge billing errors and also effectively manage consumption.
"It enabled us to see whether, for example, cleaners were leaving on lights. This might better account for increased consumption at a David Lloyd centre than extra members using the showers.
"We could also establish that a large electricity bill at a Costa Coffee site was the result of air conditioning being regularly left on overnight," said Hornsby.