Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Eco-friendly Hotel Design

Editor's Note: The following is a repost from www.design-training.com/blog/eco-friendly-hotel-design/Many of these energy saving ideas can be translated into the residential market.  In addition, the more exposed clients are to these types of options in the public setting the more apt they are to seriously consider it in the private.

Written by:  Jamie Gibbs, the resident blogger for home insurance comparison site Confused.com.

It’s important for us to save and conserve energy wherever we can. With the focus on reducing our carbon footprint and becoming more energy conscious, designers and architects are quickly adapting to implement energy saving methods in their design. In particular, the building of new hotels and designing for refurbishment of existing hotels means that it pays to know where the biggest savings in energy can be made. These green hotels make use of eco-friendly systems to conserve energy, protect the environment, and dramatically lower overall costs. Let’s take a look into some of the major eco-friendly initiatives of modern hotel design.

Recognizing a green hotel
For consumers, being able to identify these green hotels can be difficult without doing a lot of research.  Fortunately, hotels can be certified as 'green' by initiatives such as the Eco Crown Hospitality Certification; a globally recognized certification that uses universal standards to rate hotels.  A hotel that has this certificate (Gold, Silver or Bronze) can boast low waste production, environmentally conscious design, and a high degree of energy efficiency.  Alternatively, consumers can look through the Green Hotels Association's list of members for a selection of suitable hotels.  While these hotels are not certified, they are part of a community that is dedicated to energy saving hotel design.

Motion detector lights
Lighting accounts for roughly 12 percent of the total energy consumption of hotels, so an energy saving here results in a much lower cost base.  There are some quick fixes in this area, such as switching to LED bulbs, or compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) in areas where lights are usually left on 24/7.  However, a more efficient way is to introduce smart lighting into the hotel.  Guests and staff tend to leave lights on needlessly and let them run while they aren't in the room.  The introduction of motion detector lights in guest rooms, for example, will ensure that there will only be light when there is someone there.  Motion sensor lights are now a common sight in hotels, and any hotel built in the past year or so is likely to have them.

Dual flush toilets
Older toilet cisterns tend to use between 3.5 and 7 gallons of water per flush.  In a standard house, this equated to roughly 30 percent of all water usage for the home.  In a hotel, the numbers quickly multiply up to a lot of wasted water.  New buildings are being designed with this in mind and have introduced dual flush toilets systems to reduce water waste.  These systems give the option of a light or heavy flush depending on how much water is needed to clean the toilet, and use less than 1.5 gallons per flush.  A 40 percent savings in water usage is significant when that savings is multiplied throughout all the rooms of a hotel.  Dual flush toilets are becoming commonplace in hotels throughout the world but an example of a newly built eco-hotel that implements this feature is the Element Hotel in Frankfurt (scheduled to open in 2014).

Key card climate control
Heating guest rooms can total up to a third of the energy bills at any hotel.  In a similar vein to innovations for eco-lighting, there are also methods to control the excessive heating in hotel guest rooms.  New technology has two modes; "occupied" and "economy".  When a guest uses their card to enter the room, "occupied" mode is activated, allowing a HVAC control unit to heat or cool the room to the guest's requirements.  When they lock the door with their keycard after leaving, "economy" mode is activated, saving up to 40 percent of energy in this manner.  This system can be seen in the Orchard Garden Hotel, San Francisco, whose Green Boutique rooms give consumers control over their environment via their key card.

Greywater harvesting
An average bath can use between 28 and 36 gallons of water, while showers accumulate up to roughly seven gallons per minute.  A majority of this water is wasted, however new measures are being taken in order to recycle it.  Greywater usually comes from baths, showers and hand basins (so-called because of its cloudy, grey color after use) and when put through a greywater harvesting system it is filtered, disinfected, and reused to fill toilet cisterns throughout the hotel.  If a dual flush toilet only uses 1.5 gallons per flush, a bath of greywater could power at least 19  flushes, saving a considerable amount of water usage.  The Dead Sea Spa in Jordan utilizes this system to great effect in a climate where water is a scarce commodity.

All of these individual innovations synergize their efforts to save considerable amounts of energy.  Sooner than later, eco-friendly industrial design will be a major requirement for all buildings, so the early adopters of these systems can see major benefits as they stay ahead of the game.  Teaching consumers about these initiatives can also have a major impact as public knowledge increases global awareness and support for future initiatives.
Additional Sources:
The Franklin Institute - What's the cost of not conserving?
Waterwise - Indoors. http://www.waterwise.org.uk/pages/indoors.html
Entergize - Key Card Technology. http//www.entergize.com/keycardsystems.html
Leonardo Energy - Energy Efficiency in Hotels.