Smart solutions save energy and keep guests comfortable

When customer comfort and convenience is your primary mission, one would think that a mandate for reducing a facility’s energy consumption could pose some major challenges. But Hyatt Sacramento’s Director of Engineering Charlie Bane and SMUD Strategic Account Advisor Issa Ndiaye not only embraced the task, they met and exceeded the goals early. And they’re not done yet.

In 2014, Hyatt Hotels Corporation unveiled its ambitious Hyatt 2020 Vision initiative, with a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, water and energy usage on all of its properties by the year 2020. To accomplish his part at Hyatt Sacramento, Bane immediately knew where to turn − SMUD. He’s been Director of Engineering on site for seven years and already had an excellent working relationship with his SMUD strategic account advisor. “Issa has been outstanding to work with. He had already set us up with Campus Billing, which saves me a tremendous amount of money, making it easier to predict electric consumption and reduce peak consumption.”

Over the course of working together, Bane and Ndiaye brainstormed and implemented dozens of energy-saving ideas. “I’ll be driving to work one day and think: ‘Hey, maybe that idea could save us some energy and money.’ Then I’ll run it by Issa. He takes my little ideas and turns them into something. He will have his team explore it and crunch the numbers, and often it actually works!”

“Hyatt has been a great partner.” adds Ndiaye. “They’re always seeking out SMUD’s input. We’ve succeeded in bringing them many, many energy efficiency programs. We’ve also been able to make sure that they reach their sustainability goals.”

One of the major initiatives SMUD implemented with Hyatt Sacramento was a smart building solution called Grid Rabbit, a demand-response energy management tool. “It’s a smart, in-room guest thermostat technology. Grid Rabbit’s approach was really basic and simple, and made it so easy for guests to use.” Beyond ease of use, Grid Rabbit can sense when a room is unoccupied and save energy during those times. It can also alert hotel staff when a room’s energy use deviates from the expected. “The beautiful thing is, we’ve been using this system for two years, saving loads of energy and it’s completely unnoticeable by our guests.”

As for the Hyatt 2020 Vision goal, “I actually surpassed that in 2015.” Bane says with pride. “With SMUD and Issa’s help especially, Hyatt Sacramento has surpassed that 24 percent reduction goal, and we are close to 30 percent now. We’ve done it through thermostats, we’ve done it through lighting. Even the simplest of ideas has made a difference.”

Having met Hyatt’s mandated goals, there is still no stopping Bane and Ndiaye’s creativity. Hyatt Sacramento now has 26 electric car charging stations on site. They’re currently working on a large battery project to shift energy usage away from peak hours. Bane adds, “I am in contact with Issa right now, trying to replace over 1,100 light bulbs with the assistance of SMUD.”

Nyiade is passionate about his work with Sacramento businesses. “I’m excited. Downtown is so vibrant. There’s such a good thing going on. I love when customers see SMUD as a partner and anytime I can bring value to any of our customers, that makes me happy.”

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