Setting the Context: New Global Trends and Carbon Taxes
Singapore has earmarked 2018 as the year of climate action and has recently introduced a new carbon tax due to take effect in 2019. Clearly, there is a large push from all sides to take action against climate change and find suitable sustainable solutions.
However, as the world moves towards being more energy efficient and green, many corporations are faced with the daunting prospect of determining what they can do to make a difference and balancing that against how much it will cost. In the hospitality sector, leading industry professionals are now rallying that hotel sustainability is an issue that should be taken seriously.
Can Hotels go green without going in the red?
As more and more new hotels are incorporating energy-saving solutions as the new industry standard, a key question here is:
How can existing hotels make themselves sustainable without breaking the bank?
For many, the main challenge is finding the financial capital to implement changes to existing systems and operations. While statistics consistently show that hotel owners fully recover their investment over time, the up-front capital needed to implement sustainable solutions is almost always exorbitant. To make things worse, full cost recovery is commonly seen only some years later.
The inevitable disruptions
To add salt to the wound of adopting costly green solutions, many sustainable energy solutions also require extensive structural work or in-depth reconditioning. Add to that the extra time needed just for installation and hoteliers will find themselves not only closing parts of the hotel but also disrupting guests and losing revenue due to decreased occupancy.
How do hotels normally cope with installation disruptions?
Typically, many hotels wait for their off-peak period before installing upgrades to their property. However, installations cancan take up to 6 months and in some cases (e.g. high occupancy hotels) there may never be a “right time”. Furthermore, every property is unique; strategies that work at one hotel may not necessarily be as effective at another.
However, while many hoteliers may be put off by these initial upfront costs and disruptions to investing in sustainable solutions, there are long term benefits that should not be ignored, the most notable of which being energy savings.
Energy consumption: Look here for sky-high savings potential
A recent study by Green Hotelier highlighted that HVAC systems are currently responsible for about 22% of all energy consumption in hotels.
Taking this into account, HVAC energy consumption is a sensible place for hotels to start their bid at becoming sustainable. By lowering HVAC energy consumption hotels can see immediate savings and also have a positive impact on their overhead and the environment.
IoT paves a new path for Hotels going green
With IoT (Internet of Things) expanding further into the Hotel and construction space there are now more solutions being presented to make buildings smarter, more efficient and even more sustainable. By using wireless IoT technology, buildings can now be enhanced to improve how they behave and react to their internal and external environments.
Many of these solutions bring with them a new level of smart automation which is unrivalled by human interaction. Companies like SensorFlow for example provide wireless HVAC automation that taps into the hotels infrastructure, analyzes and optimises the energy flow and enables real-time aircon automation. Couple this with preventative maintenance alerts and system failure detection and you have created an intelligent room that allows staff to respond to issues before the guests even notice.
Other platforms like Telkonet gives hotel brands and guests the ability to remotely manage guestroom IoT products, facilitating keyless entry and remote control over lighting/temperature/power outlet settings. In combination, these solutions not only lowers labor costs and increases guest satisfaction, but also allows energy-saving automation of room lighting and temperature for optimal energy efficiency.
In the journey towards going green, many hotels face significant challenges in terms of the high up-front costs and lengthy operational disruptions that come with many sustainable solutions. However, recent developments in IoT solutions have greatly enabled hotels to bypass some of those major barriers and make them more efficient, sustainable and competitive.
Now that the majority of tourists are on the lookout for green hotels with sustainable practices, wireless, non-invasive and low-cost IoT solutions can level the playing field and help many existing hotels retain their competitive edge. Ultimately, best practices dictate that hotels stay customer-focused and leverage on sustainable solutions that can not only optimises operational efficiency, but also improves the guest experience as well.