If done right, hotels can be high-tech while remaining sustainably efficient. To do so, hoteliers go through several stages of testing and researching of products.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Sustainability and technology can go hand in hand, as long as the focus is on practicality and functionality, hoteliers say.
New tech has to be, first and foremost, functional for both guests and hotel staff, Joseph Turano, GM of the Yotel New York, said in an email interview. Secondly, it has to be sustainable.
“Whenever we are considering adapting a new technology at Yotel, we have to make sure that all these boxes are checked,” he said.
Finding alternatives, careful selection
With more technology, there’s often the concern that it could increase energy usage. That’s why the Loews Hotel 1000 in Seattle is constantly on the lookout for sustainable alternatives, GM John Power said in an email interview.
When considering manufacturers for amenities such as TVs, it’s important to look at SEAD or LEED ratings, and to weigh those against guest expectations for the size of guestroom TVs, Power said.
Guests today are more aware “of the importance of sustainability and (are) accustomed to the ease of technology than ever before—and so are we,” he said. “As hoteliers, both technology and sustainability are important functions and responsibilities of our business. We work closely with local artisans and vendors to reduce our carbon footprint.”
Yotel New York, which earned LEED certification in 2011, is in the process of revamping its thermostats to use heat sensors that sync with the property management system to let hotel staff know when a room is occupied, Turano said. This will reduce the hotel’s kilowatt usage by 20%, he said.
Turano said one of the challenges the property constantly faces is determining what new tech to adopt.
“Sifting through all of the new technologies can be a job in and of itself,” he said. “What’s most important for us is that the technology will actually work—and make life easier for our guests and staff. … The true value is in our guests’ experience with the technology, that it saves everyone time, provides each guest with a more efficient/comfortable stay and is energy efficient.”
Before implementing any new technology at a large scale he said, it’s key to “test, test and conduct even more tests.”
Other energy-saving technology features at Yotel New York include LED lamps that are as bright as halogen lamps but use a fraction of the energy, Turano said. He said each Yotel guestroom also has occupancy sensors that automatically turn lights on and off.
“The occupancy sensors also scale back the heating and air conditioning when the room is vacant for an extended period of time,” he added.
Power said fiber-optic and LED lighting can generate larger energy savings than other products that also might cost more to operate. For example, Loews is researching auto dimmers that not only detect movement but also will reduce power demand based on time of day.
“They would reduce the power demand during the day when less light is needed, automatically operating with less power and decreasing lumen output that is not needed,” he said.
Power added that Loews Hotel 1000 is also in the process of converting to 100% LED lights within the public spaces, which also will feature a dimming system.
Mark Beevor, GM at Viceroy Hotel Group’s Hotel Zetta in San Francisco, said the property uses LED lighting as well as motion-sensor air conditioning in the guestrooms. He said from a technology standpoint, it allows the property to be more sustainable.
Though it does use motion sensors, Hotel Zetta does not have them linked to the PMS, which would let housekeepers know when a rooms is occupied or vacant, he said.
“I don’t think there is a need so much for that in this hotel,” he said. “I think in a resort that makes a lot of sense, because people spend a lot more time in their rooms, but here people are getting out and about while they’re here on business. So I think it’s less of a demand.”