Vacation: Culture, Architecture, and Saving Electricity

Jessica in Segovia, Spain

By Jessica Orquina

I recently returned from a trip to Spain. It is a beautiful country with varied landscapes and strong traditions. In addition to enjoying the country’s culture, architecture, and different regional foods, I was intrigued by the ways hotels and businesses in that country save energy. Since beginning to work for the EPA last winter, I have become more aware of how people and organizations around me protect the environment.

During our trip, my husband and I visited a few different regions of Spain. Of course, all of the hotels we stayed at encouraged guests to reuse towels for multiple days to not waste water. But some of the hotels also had a cool way to reduce the amount of electricity being wasted at their properties. In these hotel rooms, we needed to put the room keycard in a slot in the wall to turn on the electricity to the room. When we took the keycard out of the slot to leave the room, it automatically turned the lights and all other electrical devices off, therefore, not wasting electricity when no one was there.

This seemingly small feature made me wonder how many people don’t bother turning lights and televisions off in hotel rooms when they go out. (It’s not their electric bill, so why worry, right?) In addition to creating unnecessary monetary costs, this also creates an avoidable cost on the environment. I wonder why more hotels around the world don’t use this type of technology.

In addition, this experience reminded me how important it is to be conscious that all our actions affect the environment. Even small things – like remembering to always turn the lights and other electronic devices off when we walk out of a room – make a difference.

What technologies or practices that help protect the environment have you seen when you travel?

About the author: Jessica Orquina works in the Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education as the social media lead for the agency. Prior to joining EPA, she served as a public affairs specialist at another federal agency and is a former military and commercial airline pilot. She lives, works, and writes in Washington, DC.