The concept of Sustainability when it was first introduced into the business world was a nice to have - or rather an extra value addition to the brand. The case no longer exists, demanding business to adopt sustainable practices throughout its day-to-day processes, and not as an extra exercise. Benefits of prioritizing sustainability includes customer loyalty, cost savings, and especially, environmental impact. According to global travel agency Virtuoso, 82% of luxury travelers prefer to travel more sustainably in the future.
Hotel facilities rank among the top five in terms of energy consumption in the tertiary building sector (minor only to food services and sales, health care and certain types of offices). With continuous 24-hour 365-day operations, hotels establish themselves as one of the highest energy and water consumers per square foot. Approximately 50% of energy use goes towards Cooling (27%) - a higher cost especially for the Middle Eastern region, followed by Lighting (23%). (Energy Star)
Industrialization and the advancements of technology has played no supporting role in reducing the consumption of energy. Rewind a few years where WiFi, smart TV, contactless check-ins etc. were considered an additional feature to entice a guest whereas presently it has become an expectation. This transformation no doubt is an addition to capital maintenance costs, especially in the post-covid environment where the industry is running on slim margins. Solutions exist in understanding the analytics and statistics behind energy consumption, and finding ways through and around while ensuring high guest satisfaction and an exceptional experience.
Finding Smart Solutions
While the expected amenities like a television or a refrigerator cannot be excluded for the sake of saving energy, Internet of Things (IoT) enables an intelligent analytics platform into the building management system, which provides relevant data to identify and efficiently manage energy usage of the facility, while identifying areas of high waste while offering suggestions for improvement.
Park Regis Business Bay, a hotel operating across a mix of new and legacy systems have established seamless integrations across both traditional systems and IoT systems which provide data-driven outcomes, enabling the facility to better manage its energy consumption. The technologies used at present will be redundant at an accelerated rate owing to the constantly evolving tech landscape, demanding hotel facilities to be abreast of changes and how fast these changes could be adopted considering the capital expenditure of each unique facility. Flexibility to new technology can only be achieved by adopting a versatile and advanced approach towards integrating technology and infrastructure - acting similar to the foundation laid before the construction of a building.
Hotels are continuing to evolve, while maintaining its core value - offering premier comfort to its guests. Costs have been controlled regardless the hotel industry as a whole continues to become smarter, safer and more comfortable.
What about Alternative energy?
Renewable energy sources are in high demand now more than ever. The greatest renewable energy source available in the Middle Eastern region is undoubtedly solar energy. Intercontinental Hotel, Washington by completely alternating its energy to renewable sources saves 12% more energy than before. The initiative taken by the same group towards the development of Hotel Indigo Dubai Sustainable City is a great example that the feat can be achieved nevertheless.
Alternating energy is met with a high cost for already established hotels. The easier solution definitely would be to adopt alternative energy sources at a smaller scale, powering specific areas of the facility. Park Regis Business Bay is currently conducting feasibility studies on setting up solar panels on its open lounge and pool area, which will in return provide power to these specific areas. Big change always starts small.
The changes within and throughout has been harsh on the industry but has contributed immensely in building resilient and transformative businesses. Sustainability is no longer a buzzword. It is a philosophy business should embrace as a core value. Energy consumption will always be at higher levels within the industry. Technology and simple alternatives could be the solution towards responsible consumption, whilst minimizing the negative impact on the environment.