A look at sustainable hotel infrastructure with Dean DiLullo
A non-traditional approach to sustainable hotel infrastructure
I’ve read a number of articles and trade magazines on sustainability over the past few weeks, and there’s been a lot of talk about how the industry is embracing greener ways of building, reducing its carbon footprint, using less energy to run hotels, installing solar panels and many other initiatives that are only a scratch on the surface compared to traditional ways of being sustainable. What I consider non-traditional is what is happening in the area of technology, such as the use of materials that use fewer natural resources when building a hotel. For example, when building a cable infrastructure for communications, IDF and MDF cabinets replaced network switches, saving on the amount of cabling required. Also, with copper, which is traditionally used for cables, one is limited to runs of 300 feet before having to reach another closet and then continue for another 300 feet. But when you’re talking about a large hotel with more than 50 rooms per floor, lots of closets and an exorbitant amount of copper would be needed.
In one of my hotel projects in Chicago, a non-traditional approach was taken to solving this problem. We have used fiber optics for our entire low voltage infrastructure design, eliminating copper in many cases, which requires fewer resources to operate, and eliminating data transmission distance limitations in terms of length. The substitution also makes sense in terms of the design of the building which reclaims valuable “real estate” on each guest bedroom floor with only a fraction of the number of IDF closets needed allowing for additional guest bedrooms, additional space for the back of the house, etc. Replacing switches with fiber optics in the closets also means less need for cooling, as the low-voltage infrastructure is passive, reducing IDF cooling needs.
TERMS: MDF Main dispatcher cupboards. IFD Distribute Frame intermediate cupboards.
These are just a few of the examples of solutions for sustainable hotel infrastructure that are not normally prioritized in the design and construction of traditional hotels. For the same reason, owners or project managers are usually under the impression that such projects would be more expensive due to the low voltage infrastructure required, but it is always worth remembering how much would be saved by other means. . In this case, drastically reducing the number of IDF closets needed saves the construction costs associated with building many IDFs, offsetting the low voltage construction and project costs and offsets at about the same level than traditional infrastructure.
The “Low Voltage Hotel”
Another interesting project I was involved in became affectionately known as “The Low Voltage Hotel”. In a hotel, many things consume electricity: lighting, televisions, hair dryers, alarm clocks, HVAC units and much more. All of this equipment is traditionally built to run on alternating current, which is high voltage and consumes more electricity. But it is possible to run all of these devices on low voltage DC power if they are designed and built to do so, ultimately consuming much less power and thus being more environmentally friendly.
The three main benefits of taking a greener approach to technology infrastructure designed for and built in hotels are lower construction costs, lower ongoing operating costs, and reduced consumption of natural resources. Dean DiLullo, Vice President of Global Accounts at Shiji Group
An owner we worked with was interested in this low-voltage hotel, so he hired a visionary team to lead the project and finance all aspects. The visionary team consisted of an electrical engineer with very good knowledge of low voltage and an accomplished project manager. They were a great group of young professionals who were able to explore a relatively new area, and the owner was able to achieve his goal.
With the low voltage infrastructure in place, the owner was able to purchase and/or assist in the design of DC powered televisions, air conditioning units, low voltage lighting, etc. for the entire hotel via presentations to major key vendors in the technology space. This owner is always invited by these vendors to speak at conferences and talk about how their innovations can help achieve green goals – great PR for vendors and a way for both to showcase their sustainability efforts. sustainability.
One of the many accomplishments included a more durable way to secure hotel backup power in the event of an emergency, such as a tornado or hurricane. Traditionally, hotels have a backup diesel-powered generator, and extra fuel must be stored to power this generator. Now diesel is a fossil fuel and by no means a clean energy source, so he has instead worked with suppliers on installing a back-up emergency generator that uses a bank of batteries to provide power. electricity at the hotel for three or four days.
This owner has done a great job leveraging B2B relationships to provide what I think are great examples of things to consider when designing hotels with a particularly low carbon footprint. So much so that this hotel’s grand opening party was enthusiastically sponsored by technology vendors.
Cost and other considerations
The three main benefits of taking a greener approach to technology infrastructure designed for and built in hotels are lower construction costs, lower ongoing operating costs, and reduced consumption of natural resources.
Doing things differently isn’t always cheap. When building in the usual way, you may get bids from multiple contractors, while only a handful of them would be able to deliver what you want in terms of non-traditional sustainable building techniques. However, a building is intended for long-term use, and it is important to consider how these costs can be offset in the future. From an operating cost perspective, a low-voltage building can use up to a third of the power of a traditional building, providing significant cost savings on heat, lighting and electricity every month. And, as the Chicago project illustrates, there will also be construction cost savings, such as the need for noticeably fewer IDF closets.
When choosing a sustainable hotel infrastructure, the cost of technology also becomes cheaper as innovation becomes more widespread, so one-time construction costs decrease every day, as in the example of the generator solution battery-powered backup.
According to a study by Operto, 86% of travelers are willing to pay more for their hotel if they know the hotel is sustainable.
Being a good environmental citizen attracts business, but it’s still an often overlooked benefit of having a responsibly built hotel. When comparing hotels, individuals and businesses making reservations now look at the sustainability practices a hotel has in place, and they are often the deciding factor when room prices and facilities have become virtually the same. among the competitors. LEED-certified hotels are on the rise, so measures such as those outlined above can be a differentiating factor.
When I talk to owners building new projects, one of the arguments I always make is that they need to think outside the box and look differently at how they allocate construction costs. It’s not always successful, sometimes homeowners aren’t convinced that something that will cost more to build will end up saving more money in another bucket and/or down the line. But sometimes that proverbial light bulb comes on (low voltage of course) and big plans come to fruition.