Room for improvement


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Viability's Guy Wilkinson writes a monthly column for Hotelier Middle East Magazine. This article originally appeared in July 2009.
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Room for improvement

  1. 1. 26COMMENT Room for improvement Viability director Guy Wilkinson speaks to energy management expert Eric Kashi to uncover how much energy could be saved by hotel rooms and why the Gulf is still on a learning curve By accessing what Kashi calls the than the low-voltage bulbs that are Mohammed bin Rashid Al Mak- ‘common brain’ of their properties, increasingly used in Gulf hotels. toum, Vice President and Prime GMs can obtain information about EMS can reportedly save between Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, room temperatures from anywhere 15 to 25% of the energy in a room. that all future buildings in Dubai in the world and send maintenance The actual cost of electricity varies should conform to the US Green engineers to remedy problems. between countries, but as a rule of Building Council’s Leadership in “EMS converts standard guest thumb, the installation of EMS itself Energy and Environmental Design rooms into ‘smart rooms’,” com- costs relatively little — between (LEED) rating system, for example, ments Kashi. US$500 and $800 per key — and have already made the acquisition of “You are not only creating efficien- typically pays itself back in five to such knowledge increasingly urgent. cies and savings for the hotel owner, six years, meaning that after that, all The benefits of energy saving, but also brand loyalty for the opera- savings go to the bottom line. especially in this region’s desert cli- tor, as well as good PR for both in Since becoming established in mate, are becoming much better COLUMNIST terms of demonstrating that they are Sharjah late last year, Kashi has understood, according to Kashi, but supporters of the green movement.” found that Gulf hotel owners and there is always a tussle between the n the hotel sector, one of the EMS is good for guest rooms, but developers are just beginning to interests of the owner and the opera- I world’s leading suppliers of Energy Management Sys- tems (EMS) is New York-based Transbeam, which has recently set up a joint venture called Transbeam apparently not as effective in pub- lic areas where it is more difficult to predict when they will be occupied. Transbeam recommends the use of LED (light emitting diode) lighting, learn about these new technologies. “They’ve heard the catch phrases, but there’s still a learning curve.” But multiple initiatives across the region like last January’s announce- tor, particularly when it comes to the initial investment. “The owner wants the lowest cost up-front, while the operator wants the lowest cost of operations,” says Kashi. “There has PMG in Sharjah. which consumes far less energy even ment by His Highness Sheikh to be some give and take.” According to managing director, Finally, it is reassuring to know Eric Kashi, EMS uses software to this fast-spoken IT ‘guru’ is aware shut off or reduce the level of air-con- that not everyone is able to grasp ditioning, heating and lighting in a the benefits of technology as fast as guest room when it’s unoccupied to he. All systems recommended by his save energy. Controlled by motion company have to pass the so-called and/or door sensors, the system can ‘grandma’ test. “If my grandma be set at different levels according to stays in a hotel room, she should be the level of activity in the room. able to turn the temperature up or “When the room is completely down either via a thermostat on the unoccupied or ‘unchecked-in’, it wall or by using a digital device.” uses no energy at all,” explains Kashi. In other words, the old big-bot- “When it is checked-in, but house- tomed arrow switch is still there, keeping staff are in the room, then a even if in some cases you can also minimal level of a/c and lighting can adjust the a/c using your telephone. be used. When it is checked-in but “We want guests to be able to fig- unoccupied, the system also has set ure out the technology in 30 to 60 sec- limits. Finally, when the room is both onds,” claims Kashi. If it takes any checked-in and occupied, the guest longer, guests can be very embar- can do what he/she wants.” rassed to ask staff how to work the Cleverly, guests’ preferences gadgets and this can literally be a regarding temperature settings can reason not to check in at a hotel. If be recorded via an interface to the they do need to ask, the system is not hotel’s main check-in desk and Prop- Only if Grandma’s happy does Kashi give designed properly.” HME EMS technology the final thumbs-up. erty Management System (PMS). This allows chains, for exam- ple, to utilise such information as part of their guest-loyalty programme and to cool or heat EMS CAN REPORTEDLY SAVE BETWEEN Guy Wilkinson is a director of Viability, a hospitality rooms to a guest’s taste at any other 15 TO 25% OF THE ENERGY IN A ROOM and property consulting firm in Dubai. For more information email: hotel in the world. July 2009 • Hotelier Middle East