A one-time investment in a hotel’s lighting system can save thousands of dollars in energy costs annually, often paying for itself within only a few years. However, hoteliers can be deterred by those significant upfront costs. Enter a new approach to energy technology that is changing how hotels finance system-wide updates: technology subscriptions. Through technology subscriptions, hoteliers make fixed, monthly payments to replace and maintain outdated systems.

Ownership, management, and hospitality development company Stonebridge Hospitality partnered with Sparkfund, a company that provides technology subscriptions for lighting, building controls, and HVAC, to update the interior and exterior lighting at the Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott Frankfort to more efficient LEDs. The company found out about the technology through BAS, a provider of lighting, ventilation, and related systems.

About a year after the installation—which took less than a week, with no impact on day-to-day operations—the hotel recorded energy savings on par with initial estimates. Over the course of its seven-year subscription, the hotel is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1,167,326 pounds per year. The company’s CEO Marc Stone says, “The payback has been at least as good as what the engineers calculated, if not a little bit better.”

Stone has already witnessed how upgrading to LED lighting can bring significant savings. In 2009, Stonebridge installed LEDs across a 10-story, 189-room property—a six-figure investment that paid for itself in about three years. Stone explains that technology subscriptions allow hoteliers to forgo the lump-sum investment and redirect it elsewhere at the property.

“Another huge benefit is the reliability and the long life of the LED fixtures,” Stone continues. Sodium bulbs typically need to be replaced about once a year. For hard-to-access areas like parking lot light posts, the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Frankfort hired an electrician, incurring hefty maintenance fees on top of the cost of new bulbs. In fact, the labor was so costly that the hotel ended up replacing the entire lot’s lighting about once a year after just a few outages. “It’s a safety and security concern for our guests if we have bulbs going out in the parking lot and creating dark areas,” Stone explains. Now, the hotel no longer needs to replace its own lights, as that service is included in its technology subscription. “That’s a major savings in maintenance,” Stone adds.

The Fairfield Inn and Suites in Frankfort is Stonebridge’s first property to make the switch to a technology subscription. The company is currently planning to take the same approach with another property in its portfolio. “We’ve been pushing energy initiatives for years,” Stone says. “So, when I look at the numbers, I know that these savings are achievable.”

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