Energy management has been one of the hot topics of the last decade. Tremendous advancements have taken place, which have yielded substantial savings for hotel owners and operators as they have taken advantage of implementing the new technologies, as well as benefiting from grants that many governments offer for conversion and retrofitting of older buildings.
So, imagine my surprise when I toured a hotel, just recently, that was celebrating its one year anniversary, and found virtually no evidence of responsible energy management anywhere in the building.
As we walked through the common areas, I could not help but notice that all of the lighting was out-dated and there was not an energy-efficient light bulb to be seen anywhere. There were, as you might expect, many ornate and elaborate lighting fixtures in the lobby and other common areas, and they were quite striking, but at the same time, I could not help but notice that they all had “old school” light bulbs in them – a sharp contrast to the modern environment I was standing in.
As we moved on, through some of those same common areas and on into the restaurant and bar on the ground floor, I was also struck by how many thermostats that were visible in the areas. It seemed that you could not look around without spotting one every fifty feet or so. Now you could be guilty of initially thinking that is quite a good idea, in order to get a good level of readings throughout the space, instead of one poorly placed thermostat at one end of the room. However, these were not just sending units, providing readings to a central system control. Nope. They were in fact simple individual units throughout the space that each had to be set in order to attempt to get some balance in the space.
When I spoke with a hotel representative, understandably he told me that the heating and cooling system for the hotel was a “nightmare” and that they had to run around and reset dozens of individual thermostats whenever there was a need to increase or decrease the temperature due to weather changes or significant changes in the level of business in the bar or restaurant.
There was, I was told, no central system installed for controlling and effectively managing the use and consumption of energy within the property – a missed opportunity, to say the least.
Another item that caught my attention was the number of light switches in both the restaurant and bar, which as I watched, seemed to cause some confusion amongst the servers as they attempted to set the lighting levels for the room, not to mention the fact that the light switches themselves, given that were so many, were unsightly in an otherwise visually interesting space.
Staying with lighting for the moment, I was equally surprised, (well, not really at this point), to find that the public washrooms were each equipped with several light switches, rather than opting for motion detection to minimize energy costs.
The same situation occurred in the meeting space, a sea of light switches and individual thermostats, throughout the rooms themselves as well as the pre-function space, and, no energy efficient lighting.
Lastly, guest rooms. And again, individual thermostats, which of course we all want in order to manage the temperate to our own personal preferences, but also again, I was advised by the hotel that there was no way of adjusting the temperature in unoccupied guest rooms without having the room attendant enter every single room and adjust the thermostat.
I must admit, once I got the thought in my head, I could not help but see the shortcomings and missed opportunities in energy management as I toured the property. Everywhere we went, it was evident that this issue had either never been raised during the construction of the property, or, as I have previously experienced, it was viewed as “too expensive” to implement and install these items, regardless of the long term savings, and also, in my opinion, the (missed) opportunity to establish your property as a leading edge, environmentally conscious hotel.
With the focus on the environment, and especially on our ability to continue to generate sufficient energy to sustain our lifestyle, should anyone be allowed to build a hotel anymore without a key component of energy management within their plans?
I know none of us want more government involvement in our businesses, me included, but I would support some form of building regulations that mandated a minimum amount of energy management into any new builds based on the implementation of cost-effective and proven technology.
It’s the least we can do.