How to Build an Efficient Hotel

Daniel Johnson, CHA, serves as a hotel analyst for Travel Channel’s Hotel Impossible and is vice president of operations for Argeo Hospitality. Here, he sits down with LODGING to answer one of the most pressing issues he believes hoteliers face.

We are building a hotel. How can it be efficient with regard to energy management?

During the building process, a lot of attention is placed on color schemes, patterns, fabrics, linen, lighting, and other eye-catching, brand building visuals reflecting the style the hotel wishes to covey to its guests. All are critical to making the right impression and are a major component of the way a guest ‘feels’ when they visit. However, the unglamorous yet necessary backbones of the structure such as HVAC, light bulbs, and equipment often have a price-value tipping point, which are usually sacrificed to the building’s detriment. Efficient HVAC units, positive air circulation, strong circulating pumps, and quick demand/low storage water heating options are all important to consider. Carpet, drapes, and bedding can be changed every five years as part of a capital improvement plan; the mechanicals are rarely replaced unless there is a catastrophic loss. During the building process, keep in mind the acronym WAGES: Water, Air, Gas, Electric, and Steam.

Price out and consider energy management devices for better control. Promote a ‘lights out’ policy in closets, storage areas, walk-ins, and offices, and install motion detection-based sensors there. Install energy efficient lighting such as LEDs or CFLs. Create an energy team to pursue efficiencies. Conduct training on energy efficiency and be a part of energy-saving practices. Don’t consider efficiency and quality as a one or the other approach—they can very much work hand-in-hand, keeping the guest happy and energy costs more manageable.

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Daniel A. Johnson, CHA, CHIA, is an award-winning hotelier with decades of industry experience. He currently serves as a consultant to hotel owners and developers throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.