Sustainability approach in hospitality industry | UTC Building & Industrial Systems | Oon Wee Chin


The environmental awareness is rapidly growing amidst not only individuals, but also entities, and for the last years the hospitality industry in Southeast Asia has been focusing its resources towards adopting green initiatives. Aside from health, hotels going green gain benefits from reduction on operating costs and creating a linkage between them, as service providers, and their clients, who more than often want to soothe their conscience by choosing to stay in an environmentally friendly hotel.

Oon Wee Chin, president for Southeast Asia at United Technologies Corporation Building & Industrial Systems, addresses exclusively to AsiaGreenBuildings concerning the sustainability trends in the hospitality industry for 2015. Raising public awareness and getting the governments involved in this topic, next to practical management solutions taken by hotels, will further help to the establishment of sustainability as the basic concept for building.


What are the sustainability trends for 2015 in the hospitality industry?

We believe rapid global urbanization will further strengthen the business case for green buildings. A recent report by Deloitte , found that “95 per cent of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking ‘green initiatives.’” Hotel owners and operators can look at business models that incorporate sustainability and environmental responsibility in order to position themselves for this growing demand and to remain competitive and profitable.

This is one of the reasons why UTC Building & Industrial Systems organized the ‘Engineering Solutions for Hotels’ seminar – with the inaugural seminar held in Singapore – dedicated to addressing the issues and opportunities of energy and operational efficiency for hotels, particularly in countries with tropical climates.

Is there any quantifiable measure that validates the benefits of green hotel for the guests?

Studies have been conducted across the world to examine the relationship between green buildings and their occupants. According to the 2013 World Green Build Trends Survey by McGraw-Hill Construction, improved health and productivity benefits are driving green buildings. In fact, 55 percent of building professionals rated greater health and well-being as the top social reasons for building green, along with encouraging sustainable business practices.

Factors such as improved indoor air quality, better lighting system quality and access to the natural environment have been linked to improvements in an individual’s health and productivity.

What can the government do to further support the sustainability initiatives in the hospitality industry?

Several government bodies across the region have recently taken positive steps in this direction. Singapore, for example, announced its goal of having at least 80 percent of its buildings attain the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) Green Mark Certified rating by 2030 through its National Green Building Masterplan. Incentive programs and schemes, such as Green Mark Incentive Scheme for existing buildings by BCA will also further encourage developers and building owners to adopt energy efficient retrofitting design, technologies and practices in existing buildings to achieve a significant improvement in the building’s energy efficiency.

Educating the public and raising awareness among building designers and operators are other important actions government can take to support sustainability initiatives. Many hotel operators are not aware of the business case for green initiatives and UTC Building & Industrial Systems tries to help hotel operators identify the low-hanging fruit in saving energy. In our joint effort with the government to create greater awareness, BCA presented ‘The Business Case for Greening the Hotel’ during our recent ‘Engineering Solutions for Hotels’ seminar.

Behavioral change of the staff alone can allegedly reduce energy bills by up to 20%; based on this premise, what can hotel management do to align this with their sustainability initiative?

While encouraging staff and guests to adopt energy-saving habits is a step in the right direction, I believe that for hotels that are keen to truly advance their sustainability initiatives, evaluating the performance of their building systems is a must. Heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems are the largest user of energy in most buildings, accounting for approximately 40 per cent of energy use. This proportion could increase to over 50 per cent in the warm and humid climates experienced in Southeast Asia. Increasing the efficiency of HVAC systems or reducing the energy consumption from these systems becomes even more critical. Energy-efficient HVAC systems, such as Carrier’s new range of chillers, can achieve a reduction of a commercial building’s overall energy consumption by up to 16 per cent annually. Elevator and escalator systems make up approximately 5 per cent of building energy use. Otis’ Gen2 elevator system can help to reduce energy usage by leveraging flat polyurethane-coated steel belt technology. When combined with ReGen™ drive, Gen2 elevators use up to 75 percent less energy than traditional elevators with conventional drives.

How is the compatibility of the existing green building measure/rating tool for hotels in Asia at the moment?

There are many different types of green building benchmarks and ratings used in different countries. In Singapore, the BCA Green Mark Scheme was launched in 2005 to drive Singapore’s construction industry toward more environmentally sustainable buildings; in Vietnam, the Vietnam Green Building Council introduced LOTUS green building certification; in the United States and much of Europe, LEED is the predominant building certification.

Rather than focus on how these certifications are different, we prefer to look at how they are the same – the objective of these various certification systems is universally to drive the adoption of greener, more sustainable buildings. This is something we can and should continue to work toward.

What are the upcoming air conditioning innovations that can further streamline energy use in the hotel?

UTC Building & Industrial Systems brands have often been the first to reach new milestones in sustainability. Carrier’s chiller plant optimization program and control system help to monitor and optimize the operations among chillers, pumps and cooling towers. We focus on monitoring and maintenance to ensure that systems are constantly operating at the most efficient level. We are also introducing an in-room energy management system that reduces energy use when the space is not occupied. We continue to invest in sustainable building technologies and processes to help new and existing hotels across the region optimize their energy and operational efficiency to increase their return on investment. On top of that, we also believe that education and collaboration can hasten the sustainability conversation.


About UTC Building & Industrial Systems

UTC Building & Industrial Systems is the one of the world’s largest providers of building solutions and technologies. The company supplies elevator, escalator, fire-safety, security, building automation, heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration systems and services. It is part of United Technologies Corporation, a leading provider to the aerospace and building systems industries.

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