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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Cleaner Production - Energy Monitoring System
Ayers Rock Resort

Ayers Rock Resort is managed by Voyages Hotels and Resorts, and operates in the semi-arid conditions of the Central Australian desert. Since electricity is a major component of running costs, the Resort has installed a computer based preventative maintenance monitoring system, which links all facilities at the Resort and enables tracking of energy costs by process and item of equipment. A monthly energy audit process, together with the newly installed monitoring system, has greatly enhanced the Resort's ability to identify energy reduction opportunities.

Background

Ayers Rock Resort

Located in the "Red Centre" of Australia, Ayers Rock Resort is an oasis in the midst of semi-arid desert. To cater for the many visitors that come to explore Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), the Resort provides a wide range of accommodation, from the luxury Sails in the Desert Hotel to backpacker dormitories.

Given its remote location far from any other township, the Resort provides visitors with an extensive range of facilities, including three hotels, five restaurants, four bars, three swimming pools, a visitors centre, hairdresser and child care, observatory, conference centre, amphitheatre, camping ground, medical centre, service station, police station, two art galleries, designer shops, post office, bank, bakery, supermarket, newsagent, gift shops, ice creamery and tour centre.

As Uluru is one of Australia's national icons, Ayers Rock Resort has been designed with low-rise architecture and desert colours in keeping with the natural environment. However, at the Sails in the Desert Hotel, immense white sails provide shade for guest comfort, and lush green lawns are bordered by abundant native plants and trees.

The Process

Environmental design features incorporated in the original development, included key tags in the rooms to conserve electricity, water-efficient shower heads and dual flush toilets to conserve water, and solar panels to reduce domestic water heating energy consumption.

Recycled sewage water from the Resort's waste water treatment plant is used to maintain the Resort's landscaping and gardens, thus helping to reduce water extraction from the Dune Plains Aquifer.

A sustainable  recycling program for cardboard, aluminium can, car batteries and cooking oil continues to expand throughout hotels and residential areas, generating revenues of about $2000 per month. 

In early 1997, Ayers Rock Resort won the Environmental Achievement Award at the national Australian Federation of Travel Agents Awards. The award was based on evaluation of the key areas of environmental design and construction, training and marketing, waste and energy management, conservation and protection, and environmental policies and procedures.

Cleaner Production Initiatives

While environmental features had been incorporated from the outset in the development of the Ayers Rock Resort, management considered a more disciplined approach was needed to ensure continuing improvements in environmental performance. The ongoing development of an Environmental Management Plan formalises this approach.

Given the extreme temperatures of Central Australia, energy conservation is a high priority. Energy costs are a substantial part of operating the Resort, with electricity costs averaging $1.2 million per annum.

The challenge faced by Ayers Rock Resort was to conserve energy by eliminating waste and utilising energy more efficiently, while at the same time maintaining the Resort's high attraction to international visitors.

Installation of the FIDELIO Preventative Maintenance Computer System
An effective monitoring system was required as the first step in identifying areas of energy wastage. By tracking energy costs and allocating them directly to processes and equipment, managers can identify cost reduction opportunities that can improve environmental quality. Reducing energy consumption and energy waste not only improves the Resort's efficiency and price competitiveness, but minimises environmental degradation and consumption of non-renewable resources. The original goal of the Resort was to reduce energy consumption by 10 percent by the year 2000. The present goal is to maintain energy consumption at year 2000 levels even though visitor numbers continue to increase.

To assist in achieving this aim, the Ayers Rock Resort installed in December 1997 a computer based preventative maintenance system, known as FIDELIO. The system was chosen because of its compatibility with the hotel reservation computer system already in-place at the Resort and its wider use in the hospitality industry as a management tool.

The maintenance plan used by FIDELIO incorporates equipment specifications provided by manufacturers, and is then configured to the specific needs of the Resort. For monitoring purposes, the Resort is divided into three zones based on individual hotels and associated facilities.

FIDELIO enables all maintenance tasks and the priority of each task (ie urgent, high, normal) to be centrally itemised. The system lists when preventative maintenance tasks need to be completed. Instead of assuming that routine maintenance tasks will be undertaken, FIDELIO identifies which items of equipment need to be checked and when. By generating simple checklists, the system ensures that preventative maintenance tasks are performed at regular intervals.

The tracking capability of the system allows emerging problems, both of a specific and general management nature, to be identified and solutions such as energy reduction initiatives to be formulated.

Preventative maintenance tasks are now a high priority at Ayers Rock Resort and maintenance engineers are required to report on any preventative maintenance not undertaken.

Implementation of accurate energy reporting and monthly energy auditing
Voyages Hotels became a signatory to the Greenhouse Challenge in March 2000 with a target to reduce emissions for 2000 by 10%.. Ayers Rock Resort achieved a 12.8% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and attained an increased confidence in the accuracy of the energy data being reported. Accurate reporting has allowed the identification of major energy consumers which are targeted for further energy efficiency actions.

A comprehensive monthly report is delivered outlining electricity consumption and the total greenhouse gas emissions from this, as well as LPG consumption and waste to landfill.

The completion of an Energy Management Plan at the start of 2001 outlines opportunities for the use of energy efficient equipment as well as the energy awareness programs instilling energy conservation practices in employees and guests. An environmental presentation during the new employees' Orientation Day details energy efficiency and conservation practices. energy audits of each hotel are conducted by the Environment manager and results are delivered to senior management for action.

In another example, lights left on all night in the ablution blocks of the camping ground attracted hordes of insects, making the building harder to clean. Furthermore, the lights upset campers, who were keen to experience the natural darkness of the desert night. By fitting the ablution blocks with movement detectors, an annual saving of $122,660 in electricity costs was achieved.

An on-going project at the Resort involves the replacement of 40-50 watt incandescent light bulbs with compact 11 watt fluorescent lamps. Around 240 light bulbs, or 70 percent of total light bulbs at the Resort, have been replaced to date, with an average annual saving of $151,200 in electricity costs.

On the basis of the energy audits, the FIDELIO tracking system allows the monitoring of electricity consumption against hotel occupancy rates. While it was presumed high occupancy would significantly increase kilowatt usage in hotel operations, occupancy had in fact very little effect on overall operating costs. The outside ambient temperature had greater influence on kilowatts used. This has prompted investigations into window tinting and better insulation.

Advantages of the Process

Installation of the FIDELIO Preventative Maintenance Computer System
Installation of the system cost approximately $20,000 and had an expected payback period of less than two years.

Preventative maintenance is expected to halve the number of equipment breakdowns and lessen any inconvenience caused to guests.

FIDELIO complements the Resort's Honeywell Building Management System in implementing process changes in both standard procedures and equipment modifications. FIDELIO tracking led to changes in procedures for operating water chillers used to cool guest rooms. By setting start and stop temperatures closer together, energy use was reduced while optimum guest comfort was maintained. Equipment requiring frequent maintenance can either be modified or replaced to improve energy efficiency.

Implementation of Monthly Energy Auditing
In addition to the savings derived from energy reduction initiatives, the monthly energy audit report helps to improve awareness and build support for energy reduction projects. The one-page report generated for each hotel manager lists the energy costs of that hotel for both the current and the previous months. Armed with this information, managers are able to assess the performance of their respective operations and the recommendations made by the audit team.

Summary of Costs and Benefits

Capital Costs

FIDELIO computer system
$20,000
Motion-sensor stairway lights
$2,400
Movement detectors in ablutions
$840
Additional switch installed in staff canteen
$7
Replacement of incandescent light bulbs
$4,800
TOTAL COSTS
$28,047

Cost Savings

Small energy management measures, when practiced widely, result in very worthwhile gains. Estimates of the average cost savings per year at Ayers Rock Resort are set out below:

Savings from stairway motion-sensors
$10,220
Savings from ablution sensors
$122,660
Savings from staff canteen
$336
Savings from light bulb replacement
$151,200
Labour savings (50% less breakdown of equipment)
$126,060
TOTAL SAVINGS
$410,476

Other benefits of energy management include deferred major capital expenditure, improved productivity, and better quality hotels.

Benefits to the Environment
Ayers Rock Resort estimates that a reduction of 2.015 million kg of CO˛ emissions occurred in 2000 from the energy reduction projects, improved energy conservation practices and greater accuracy in energy usage reporting.

Employee Involvement
An Environment Manager for the company was employed in February 2000 and, amongst many objectives in this role, energy management and achieving Greenhouse Challenge targets were a priority.

A concerted effort has been made through the program to inform senior management of its benefits. In addition to gaining their increased support, the commitment of individual hotel managers has also been secured. Maintenance engineers have preventative maintenance tasks included as a measure of their job performance, while by making each hotel accountable for its energy use, staff involvement is increased, the importance of energy awareness is emphasised, and staff support for further energy reduction initiatives is enhanced.

Cleaner Production Incentive

Reduction of costs is an obvious incentive in introducing energy efficiency programs, and further cost savings are being found in all elements of the Environmental Management Plan that undergoes continual development as improvements are made.

Waste minimisation occurs in the "Reduce, Reuse and Recycle " theme with suppliers approached to reduce packaging waste or use recyclable or biodegradable packaging. Recycling programs are steadily expanding in the types of material being recycled and total volumes being diverted from landfill. Water conservation is promoted with staff and guests by providing water efficient equipment such as water saving shower roses and tap timers, prioritising the repair of water leaks and inviting guests to reuse towels.

Added to the financial benefits of energy saving and other cost reduction measures, is achieving the Company's goal to be an industry leader and develop best practices for handling all resources at the Resort..

Barriers

No significant barriers are being encountered. The employment of an Environment Manager allows the promotion of resource management throughout Ayers Rock Resort.

Contact

Mr Kane Hardingham
Environment Manager
Ayers Rock Resort
PO Box 46
Yulara
NORTHERN TERRITORY 0872
Ph: +61 (08) 8957-7320
Fax: +61 (08) 8957 7325
kane.hardingham@ayersrockresort.com.au
http://www.voyages.com.au

Date of implementation: 1996-2000
Date of further initiatives: Ongoing
Case study prepared initially in June 1998: Co ordinated by the Northern Territory Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in association with the Environment Management Industry Association of Australia (EMIAA).
Date last modified: May 2001.