Dec. 25–A government system for ranking service-sector companies on their energy-saving achievements will begin on a full-fledged basis next fiscal year. Under the system, a scheme will be introduced for awarding "stars" to companies with excellent records.
Companies that have made excellent achievements will obtain stars, but those with poor results will face consequences, such as public naming.
With the star ranking system, the government aims to foster competition among companies to save more energy. This will help prevent global warming and boost related investments.
Starting next fiscal year, the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry will start evaluating the energy-saving efforts of hotel operators. The evaluation will comprise four categories.
About 200 companies whose energy consumption for factors including air conditioning, cooking and lighting exceed a certain level will be subject to the evaluation.
Each year, the ministry will make those companies report how much electricity, gas and other energy resources they consumed.
The ministry will recognise companies ranked in the top 10 per cent to 20 per cent as "S class," meaning they have made excellent achievements. Companies recognised as S-class for two years or more will be rewarded with up to five stars.
In contrast, companies that continue to consume more electricity will face action from the ministry, such as being ordered to make plans to improve energy consumption. If they do not comply, the ministry will impose administrative punishments, such as naming them.
There are hotels that have already started taking energy-saving measures with an eye on the introduction of the system.
This autumn, the Hotel New Otani replaced the lights in its banquet halls with light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which consume less electricity.
The Imperial Hotel has installed sensors in its corridors for employees. The lights turn off when the sensors detect that nobody is there.
More hotels are using natural energy resources, including Manseikaku Hotels Co., based in Toyako, Hokkaido. The company, which mainly operates in hot spring resorts in suburban Sapporo, uses hot water from onsen wells to heat hotels.
Being encouraged to save energy can result in hotel operators reducing their electricity bills and other expenses.
An official of the Imperial Hotel was positive, saying, "If our hotel becomes S-class, our corporate image will improve."
The ministry has begun a similar system for convenience store operators. It plans to expand the range of companies subject to the system to include supermarket chains and department stores.
A revision of the Law on the Rational Use of Energy was enacted in April 2010. Service-sector companies with business scales greater than criteria set by the law are required to report how much energy they consume, such as electricity volume.
To make better progress regarding energy saving, the ministry deemed the introduction of a relative evaluation system to be more effective than leaving companies to make voluntary efforts.