Hotel Management — February 5, 2016
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By Esther Hertzfeld

ENERGY management
Automation offers perks for hotels, guests

By Esther Hertzfeld
As the Internet of Things continues to advance, so does the intelligence related to energy management in hotels. Having better control of devices, such as sensors, thermostats and lighting, provides data to a centralized control mechanism, which offers smarter decisions based on advancing algorithmic capabilities, said Felicite Moorman, CEO of Stratis.
“This automation benefits hoteliers in many ways,” she said. “From a reduction of net operating costs to rebates and incentives for green initiatives and marketing campaigns, energy is at the forefront for not only hoteliers, but utilities, municipalities, business travelers and consumers alike. The necessary technology upgrades are less expensive than they once were and can provide ‘technology as an amenity’—ultimately improving the guest experience as opposed to inhibiting it.”
Because more energy-management systems can be operated in the cloud, that allows the systems to be controlled and managed from anywhere, said Jerry Dallaire, owner of Custom Energy Solutions. “This allows for systems to be user-friendly and easily accessible—all beneficial things when your engineering department has a high turnover rate,” he said. “The more automated a system is, the less work your staff has to do.”
As more hardware is incorporated into hotel rooms to automate energy usage, many hotels are using dynamic software in rooms, as well. These types of automated software will learn about the room environment and make decisions on their own, not by depending on triggers or inputs by hotel staff or other systems, said Michael Serour, director of sales for Verdant Environmental Technologies. “By operating exactly as it should because the system is completely automated, the system is keeping guests happy,” he said. “Guest comfort is at the forefront and the system is saving money and energy because there is no human error or other systems’ errors impacting the results.”
Energy continues to be the second largest expenditure faced by hoteliers, said John Tavares, director of business development for Inncom by Honeywell. Energy savings can add up quickly and in some cases, can reach as much as 30-percent savings of the energy consumed in guestrooms. “Energy savings become additional profit, which can significantly impact the value of a property,” he said.
Tavares said that a large urban hotel that is able to reduce its energy spending by $100,000 a year can see its valuation go up by more than $1 million.
Beyond the financial savings for hoteliers, energy management is also about creating guest comfort and satisfaction. Guests want comfortable rooms that require minimal or no interaction with controls. If the energy-management system is intuitive and simple to adjust to individual preferences, the guest has a better chance of being comfortable and will be even more satisfied. “Energy-management systems are designed and maintained to provide that level of comfort,” Tavares said.
The automation of energy systems can help guests before they even realize there is a problem, Dallaire said. “Maybe a room air conditioning system isn’t working correctly. The system will send an alert to hotel staff so it can be fixed while the guest is away from the room, before the problem is even recognized.”
The occupancy sensors can wirelessly link the in-room energy system to a housekeeper’s device to find out if the room is occupied—all to avoid disturbing the guest, said William Fizer, president of Lodging Technology. “All of the automation requires less interaction with the hotel staff, allowing for a more relaxing visit in the hotel,” he said. HM

Top left: When energy-management systems are interfaced with property-management systems, it allows energy-management parameters to be set more aggressively when the room is vacant.
Top right: Body heat occupancy sensors help manage the energy consumption in a room based on when the guest is or is not in the room.

Spent on energy per hotel room in U.S.
On average, America’s 47,000 hotels spend this annually, representing 6 percent of operating costs.
Source: Environmental
Protection Agency
Reduction in energy consumption
That reduction in usage would have the same financial effect as increasing the average daily rate by 62 cents in limited-service hotels and by $1.35 in full-service hotels.
Source: Environmental
Protection Agency
Lighting represents one quarter of all electricity consumed in a hotel
Retrofits can reduce lighting electricity use by 50 percent or more and cut cooling energy requirements by 10 percent to 20 percent.
Source: Energy Star
Building Manual
Hotel guests use bathroom lights as nightlights
Consider installing nightlights or enabling a nighttime feature to operate bathroom fixtures at 10-percent light output.
Source: E-Source Companies

Operational efficiency drives the energy-savings trend
The obvious reduction in energy costs with an energy-management system can be significant—30 percent from guestroom control alone, experts report. The conservation of resources also drives the energy-savings trend. As more hoteliers embrace energy control, it will become a competitive advantage.


Integration equals energy savings

From the days of asking housekeeping to turn off the lights and HVAC to keycard switches to occupancy and door sensors, energy-management systems have rapidly evolved to benefit from integrated systems. Systems can run on a network or in the cloud and can be interfaced directly with property-management systems, allowing parameters to be set more aggressively when the room is unrented.
“The thermostats communicate directly and wirelessly to the door locks,” said John Tavares, director of business development for Inncom by Honeywell. “This produces a more accurate determination of room occupancy and allows differentiations of settings depending on whether a guest or staff member has entered the room.”
Lighting control can be integrated into the guestroom’s occupancy settings so lights are turned off when guests are not in the room. Motorized drapes or shades can be opened or closed depending on the season, outside temperature versus room temperature, solar exposure, and of course, occupancy status.
Property-management systems serve as the source of whether a room is rented or unrented and if the hotel has highly fluctuating occupancy patterns, it can also designate rooms or entire floors that should go into hibernation. It also serves as an easy way to prepare rooms for arrival without creating additional staff work. For example, when the guest checks in, the PMS can automatically send a signal to the EMS to turn on the HVAC and drive the temperature to the guest’s or the hotel’s preferred temperature.
Some energy-management systems can operate completely independently of a PMS, allowing the system to make smart decisions about the room temperatures on its own, said Michael Serour, director of sales for Verdant Environmental Technologies.
A hotelier can give the guest the experience of control without relinquishing all control when the guest has power over the room-management system, said Felicite Moorman, CEO of Stratis. “Preset limits can maintain a comfortable environment without allowing extreme temperatures to be set, and worse, left,” she said. “Making the focus of the [bring your own device trend] something other than your energy-saving mechanisms, like entry/access, LED lighting control or shade control, should eliminate any feeling of restraint for the guest.” HM

As more hoteliers embrace energy control, it will become a competitive advantage and the return on investment will be quick and simply calculated.