Talking Point: Can the ‘internet of things’ help hotels be sustainable?

Hotels can use tech analysis to monitor energy consumption

Can digitisation help hotels be more sustainable?

Ruaraidh Bellew is a Chartered Energy Manager at EP&T Global specialising in the role of digitisation to reduce costs and increase efficiency in hotels. Ruaraidh explains that many hoteliers fail to recognise the inherent inefficiency in their operations which can lead to 20% energy and water wastage per year. If solved, the thousands of pounds saved on utility bills can translate to millions of pounds gained on the hotel’s market value.

EP&T’s research has shown the top 5 causes of energy waste in hotels to be:

  1. Reactive staff behaviour to customer comfort complaints
  2. Incorrectly programmed building management systems
  3. Unidentified equipment failures
  4. Excessive HVAC usage during low occupancy levels.
  5. Power hungry kitchen equipment left on out of hours.

These may seem small in isolation but collectively they produce a significant energy inefficiency and wastage.

Across a portfolio of 4 hotels currently being monitored by EP&T, the inefficiency was found to equate to a waste of 12.7 million gallons of water - equivalent to over 19 Olympic size swimming pools – and energy waste of 13.6 million kWh - the same as powering 3,400 UK homes for a year. Overall, this has amounted to £230,000 in avoidable annual energy and water costs.

If you were to picture this scenario across a larger fund owning 20 hotels, there is a potential overspend of £1.15m in annual energy costs, caused by this operational inefficiency.

It's natural that staff will react to a guest's complaint that their room is too hot or too cold but it's important they understand the impact they have upon the hotel’s energy consumption by rushing to add a fan or a heater. Teaching them techniques to cut energy wastage – such as avoiding strong adjustments to thermostats so the HVAC doesn’t run too hard and managing guest expectations - will definitely produce cost savings. Making a minor adjustment to the thermostat with an explanation that the room will adjust in half an hour will more than likely be acceptable to the guest.

However, to combat the substantial figures above hoteliers need to innovate and explore new initiatives that will improve the sustainability of their hotels and funds.

The digitisation opportunity

Hoteliers are starting to look towards big data to provide evidence that these operational changes are impacting their sustainability efforts, but the opportunity doesn’t stop there. By simply embracing digitisation hotel owners and operators can eradicate energy and water wastage.

Digitisation can be broken down in to four sub-categories, all of which are explained below:

  1. Internet of things – Hardware devices that are wirelessly interconnected enabling them to send and receive accurate data in real time.
  2. Big data – A server processes billions of data sets to provide a deep insight into a buildings performance.
  3. Artificial Intelligence – Software autonomously looks for potential faults within the property by analysing data sets and the factors affecting energy performance.
  4. Machine Learning - Software learns when a building is running at its optimum efficiency level and notifies engineers when it isn’t.

When combined with the technical human expertise, often already present in a hotel’s engineering team, a fully digitised hotel can be a powerful vehicle to deliver up to 20% energy and water reductions, as shown by the energy performance graph below.

energy graph

This graph shows a decrease in energy usage over a period of 4 years, against a baseline, after digital technology was installed. This decrease is obtained through continued monitoring of the big-data collected to identify certain energy-saving opportunities.

Increase market value – alpha returns

For hotel portfolio owners and fund managers, the opportunity becomes especially attractive as a 20% reduction in utility cost will flow directly to the bottom line and increase hotels profits. Across a portfolio of 20 hotels, this could equate to £1.15million savings per year and a potential £11.5million improvement in the market value of your hotels.

 Therefore the real cost of energy wastage within hotels is not simply the cost of the waste but the wasted opportunity to grow the market value of your hotel portfolio by millions.

For more information on this topic including real case studies of this system and its results contact Ruaraidh Bellew, or visit

Leave a Reply