6 Ways Big Data Can Address Energy Consumption Analytics
With climate change accelerating and built environments accounting for nearly 40% of energy use...
A minor history of technology could be written from a study of what amenities hotel signs used to boast about. Signs used to brag about having “air conditioning”, “color TV”, “HBO”, “Internet access”, etc. You may still see some of those around the country but they seem old-fashioned and out of place. Why? Because with all of these things, the novel became the day-to-day. Ubiquity transformed once-rare amenities turned into expectation.
Today, the same is quickly happening with smart technologies, including climate control, lighting, and air quality. Additionally, hotel guests have new and changing requirements that are dramatically shifting equipment needs, maintenance priorities, and energy use patterns. This includes reliable Wifi, smart TVs, contactless check-in, tablet-based room service menus, tenant experience apps, and charging stations for multiple devices, laptops, and electric vehicles. Unlike color TV years ago, guests may not find the presence of these features to be remarkable, but they will be sure to notice their absence.
All of this can add to capital costs, maintenance costs, and the complexity of building systems. It can also increase energy consumption at a time when the industry as a whole is operating on slim margins. By taking a closer look at hotel energy consumption statistics and how analytics can help, you can gain a better understanding of how to improve efficiency and reduce costs while living up to guest expectations.
There’s no question that hotels use a lot of energy. Everything from the obvious (the lights that are on 24/7) to the hidden (heat escaping from the pool) adds up. After all, hotels run all day every day and whether you have one guest or a full house, you have to provide an excellent experience. While you already know this, seeing the raw data can be a surprise.
According to Better Buildings Hospitality, a DOE-sponsored initiative that brings together organizations to share information on saving energy:
With 24-hour 365-day operations, hotels are one of the highest energy and water consumers per square foot. Better Buildings Hospitality partners represent 1 billion square feet of the sector's total 6 billion square feet of national floorspace. Across America’s 47,000 hotels, it is estimated that the average guest room incurs nearly $2,200 in energy costs annually. By investing in and prioritizing energy efficiency, hoteliers can improve guest comfort and realize cost savings.
As a point of reference, in 2019, the average monthly electric bill for residential customers in the United States was $115, or $1380 a year. In other words, a single hotel room incurs nearly double the energy cost of an average home.
So where does that energy go? Energy Star® breaks it down:
But these hotel energy consumption statistics were compiled before Covid, which means the picture looks slightly different today.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the hospitality industry faced stark troubles that threatened the viability of hotels around the world. But the industry has survived and, as people began to travel again, can thrive. However, the need to make hotels resilient and attractive to guests has led to some serious changes.
The most prominent change is a new focus on air quality. Guests are demanding better air filtration and ventilation, and many hotels are working to implement more effective systems to ensure safety. “The best amenity that any hotel could provide under those circumstances is safety, especially in the air,” Carlos Sarmiento, general manager of Hotel Paso del Norte, told the New York Times in late 2020. Indeed, hotels today are reaching for the highest standards of purity. As journalist Elaine Glusac writes, "With the new air-scrubbing campaigns, hotels are following airlines, many of which have hospital-grade, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters that are said to be over 99 percent effective in capturing tiny virus particles, including the coronavirus."
But that comes at a cost.
Let’s look at a few things that hotels can do to keep guests safe, and their estimated costs.
These are big jumps, especially when multiple measures are combined. But those aren’t the only costs that are associated with Covid. More equipment, fewer direct interactions, irradiation lamps, and other factors can lead to increased costs.
Covid isn’t the only thing that is transforming the hotel industry. Guest expectations were already changing before Covid hit due to advancements in smart technology, resulting in rapidly growing demand for smart hotels. As a recent market report notes:
With the arrival of the IoT, a smart hotel is more than having a smart TV or a smart entertainment system in the room. The smart hotel includes all the electrical appliances like the TV, fridge, AC, coffee machine to central lighting system, and even the sensors installed in the guest rooms.
These amenities can improve comfort and convenience and elevate the guest experience. They can also introduce new sources of energy consumption and, if not properly handled, complicate facility management.
But smart technologies also offer solutions. By strategically adding IoT devices and an intelligent analytics platform to your building management system, you gain visibility into all parts of your system. Through continuous monitoring of system data, an analytics platform can identify areas of waste and offer suggestions for improvement, helping you refine your energy management strategy.
Analytics also empowers efficiency-focused automation. For example, HVAC functions can be adjusted according to air quality data, lighting can be set according to occupancy, and automatic adjustments can immediately correct suboptimal equipment performance. When manual intervention is required, maintenance crews can be alerted as quickly as possible and are armed with insights rather than going into troubleshooting situations blind. As a result, the maintenance process is streamlined and the risk of expensive repairs and downtime is minimized.
Additionally, a robust analytics platform allows for objective assessment of efficiency measures and safety strategies, helping you make smart decisions and investments.
Energy consumption statistics can help you understand how much energy you are using and how. Integrating analytics can help you change those consumption patterns for the better.
Most hotels are a mix of new and legacy systems, and the constantly changing tech landscape means that even recent systems may soon be outdated. This is particularly true when considering the new demands of Covid-wary travelers. A master systems integrator can seamlessly unify traditional systems like HVAC, lighting, and access control with cutting-edge technologies like IoT sensors and cloud-based APIs for tenant experience apps. Once connected, an intelligent platform, like onPoint, can collect, organize, and analyze data to produce actionable insights and expand system capabilities.
Hotels have always changed what they offer in response to changing conditions, but the core remains the same: premier comfort at controlled costs. Today, technology is allowing hotels to become smarter, safer, and more comfortable while reducing energy consumption in ways that make a real difference.
Natalie writes about trends in commercial real estate technology, building data analytics, master systems integration and controls for building systems.
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