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Last edited 01 Feb 2021
How to create a sustainable hotel
Whether a brand new building full of the latest innovations, or a refurbishment of an existing hotel which must meet rigorous and legally-enforced minimum energy efficiency standards, sustainability continues to force its way up the agenda in the hospitality sector.
But the impact of environmental measures can no longer be viewed in isolation: the way that green building design and fit-out interacts with policy, finance, customer loyalty, staff wellbeing and broader community issues defines good hotel management today.
Research carried out among European real-estate industry professionals reveals that more than three-quarters of commercial buildings have a sustainability strategy, which is itself increasingly interlinked with business objectives. These include preventing obsolescence, exploiting tax incentives and simply creating a ‘quality building’ which has market appeal. Buildings lacking such a strategy are viewed by many as an investment risk.
In the commercial property world, investment consultants use a number of tools in their scrutiny of green strategies. These include the FTSE EPRA Global Real Estate Index, the European Association for Investors in Non-Listed Real Estate Vehicles (INREV), the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change and the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark, new EPC legislation and near-zero carbon initiatives.
There is also substantial evidence that hotel chains seeking to attract and retain a new generation of skilled workers regard a sustainable building as an important element in their brand and corporate identity.
 Sustainability initiatives
Heating and air conditioning:
- Upgrading boilers to more efficient models
- Insulating hot-water cylinders
- Installing a weather compensation system
- Reducing thermostat deadbands to prevent heating and cooling working simultaneously
- Introducing controls such as individual room thermostats or thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs)
- Checking air supply and extract systems are being operated in line with specification and installation details
- Installing heat-recovery units to allow for the transfer of thermal energy
- Using high-performance mechanical systems (including high-efficiency chillers, boilers, and thermal heat recovery from the floors)
- Upgrading insulation to roofs, floors and cavity walls
- Retrofitting external insulation/cladding to solid wall construction
- Addressing draughts
- Changing to LED or CFL technology
- Maximising daylight, where necessary combined with passive solar shading to reduce the need for air conditioning
- Using dimming lighting controls and PIR systems to allow lighting levels to be adjusted according to external daylight
- Introducing motion sensors and adjusting timings on existing sensors
- Introducing solar panels (both photovoltaic and solar thermal), biomass boilers, and air- or ground-source heat pumps
- Introducing more nature in the form of green walls and roofs, views of natural landscapes and internal planting
- Measuring and monitoring data on energy savings and indoor air quality, and evaluating its effectiveness.
Clearly the skill for hotel owners and operators today is to balance the all-important people-centric features with ongoing energy and resource efficiency through the use of technology and good maintenance practices.
As it is increasingly acknowledged that customer and staff wellbeing is affected by the sustainability of the building in which they operate, sustainability in property is becoming synonymous with quality. And that is good news for both people and the environment.
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