Singapore is the top-ranked most sustainable country in Asia, according to the Environmental Performance Index. To attract investors and entrepreneurs from around the world, our government has put into motion several policies and guidelines to encourage the adoption of green technology and practices to make it an eco-friendly city. As part of the government’s ‘Green Plan,’ the country is targeting “80% of new buildings to be Super Low Energy buildings from 2030, and 80% improvement in energy efficiency over 2005 baseline for best-in-class green buildings by 2030.” The Green Plan primarily targets commercial buildings – including hotels – as well as healthcare, education, civic, and sports/recreation facilities. Smart building management system technology is key to success.
We at Daikin – as the only system integrator in Singapore certified by Schneider Electric as a Master-level BMS EcoXpert – are strongly focused on enabling Buildings of the Future that are more sustainable, resilient, hyper-efficient, and people-centric. We are helping many hotels and clients in other business sectors to meet the requirements of the Green Plan, as well as helping them to achieve success with the popular Singapore Green Mark Certification Scheme, a green building rating system operated by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA). Buildings can be awarded Gold, Gold Plus, or Platinum certifications, as well as a Super Low Energy (SLE) certification based on energy savings and the use of renewable energy.
Smart building technologies speed hotels recovery
The hotel industry is an important sector in Singapore. In 2019, before the pandemic, tourism represented around four percent of the gross domestic product, with revenue from hotel rooms reaching a new record of over 4.2 billion Singapore dollars. In 2020 this number plummeted to 1.1 billion.
With the industry now focused on recovery, hotel owners and operators are looking beyond meeting Green Plan and Green Mark requirements to leverage every way possible to attract guests back while keeping costs down. New smart building technologies can help improve building health, which will boost guest confidence. There are also many cost-effective technologies designed to enhance efficiency, sustainability, and resilience. All these solutions can benefit hotels of every size, from premium to mid-size properties.
Making hotels healthier
Due to the COVID pandemic, hotel operators need to consider new technologies to help ensure the well-being of their guests and staff. This will also win back the confidence of customers and attract them back to their hotels while meeting their design, usage and performance expectations.
The first important consideration is mechanical ventilation (MV), as there is a need to bring more fresh air into the indoor environment. However, this is generally done at the expense of chiller efficiency. The Singapore government is aware of this and has relaxed Green Plan regulations to accommodate this. Increasing the amount of fresh air may require some upgrade or reconfiguration of the BMS and some changes to ducting, which could include installing air quality sensors to monitor CO2 and humidity in the ducts. This will ensure all occupants are safe while hotel guests remain comfortable and satisfied. An intelligent BMS should have the flexibility to balance the use of fresh air as required based on changing conditions, which can help improve efficiency.
Hotels should also consider further steps to ensure a high degree of indoor air quality (IAQ). This means monitoring conditions in guest rooms such as humidity, temperature and CO2 levels room IAQ sensors. As well, for example, air purifiers can be installed in the lobby and common areas. Air purifiers can also be used in guest rooms; however, another alternative is UV lights, which must be operated only when the room is unoccupied. Antimicrobial coating on indoor cooling coils, and anti-mold/bacteria pre-filters can help keep the air clean that enters the building or each room. By installing a differential pressure sensor the condition of the filters can be monitored to ensure optimal functioning that helps to reduce energy consumption.
To further protect guests and staff, touchless switches, thermostats, and elevator controls can be installed. These IoT-enabled devices can be operated hands-free using a mobile app. In addition, keyless locks and occupancy sensors in rooms can control lighting and the room environment without the need for guest interaction.
All these capabilities can offer hotels an opportunity to market their properties as a safe place for guests. And in the future, if a ‘healthy building’ certification is established, having these enabling systems in place will make certification much easier.
Making hotels more efficient
Programs like Green Plan, Green Mark, and SLE are keeping building efficiency top of mind for many hotels, but these are still voluntary programs. In the future, we may see the government make some of them mandatory regulations similar to the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive in the EU. Either way, achieving greater building efficiency can bring many advantages to a hotel beyond compliance and certifications. So can reducing the total cost of maintenance.
Hotels can save money and reduce their environmental impact by using the newest technologies. This can help improve energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions, cut down on water usage, and reduce maintenance time and costs. Let us look at a few examples.
- Upgrade Building Management Systems – The newest IoT-based building management system (BMS) technology offers a scalable and secure architecture that can help improve indoor climate while achieving the highest possible efficiency. For example, using a BMS to monitor and analyze chiller performance – in combination with optimized programming, scheduling, and staging – can help increase energy savings. A smart BMS can also help maintain compliance with the Green Plan, which requires reporting that confirms that a building’s efficiency is being maintained for two years after construction, e.g., for the chiller plant, etc.
- Retrofit Air Conditioning and Mechanical Ventilation – Many components of air conditioning and mechanical ventilation (ACMV) systems can be upgraded to more efficient options. For example, a new ‘interlock’ functions on room AC units can detect an open window and turn off the unit to avoid wasting energy. Hot water systems with heat recovery reduce energy consumption. AC remote monitoring and control can cool rooms only before a guest arrives, as well as help identify faults to prevent breakdowns.
- Hydrofluro-Olefins (HFO) chillers – This new technology is oil-free, using durable magnetic bearings. This has an extremely low global warming potential (GWP) to minimize carbon dioxide emissions. With no oil involved, there is no need for regular maintenance or overhaul (which can cost up to S$100,000 per chiller).
- New Air Conditioning cleaning methods – Steam cleaning AC equipment is a better and greener option than the traditional chemical-based The use of steam not only extends the lifespan of the equipment (chemicals can deteriorate some equipment), but regular cleaning also improves the efficiency of AC units.
- Chemical-free cooling tower treatment – This green solution can achieve energy savings of up to 25% for the chillers due to cleaner condenser tubes while resulting in water savings of more than 50%.
Consider ROI in terms of the entire lifecycle of smart buildings
In the past, our customers would evaluate building upgrades in terms of balancing the initial investment against a shorter-term payback; for example, maybe 5 years or less. However, Daikin now asks its customers to look at the total lifecycle cost.
When you consider not just the cost to overhaul existing equipment, but also the long-term maintenance costs, then savings can be 20% to 30% over the entire life cycle cost. That is significant. The lesson here is not to look only at short-term return-on-investment, then be locked in after that with a high maintenance cost. Invest in a solution that will perform well over its entire lifecycle.
Also consider the extensive benefits of smart, integrated systems. New, intelligent BMS can seamlessly integrate with the mechanical and electrical management systems including AC, lighting, IAQ (indoor air quality), and occupancy sensors. They can also integrate with the front desk and booking systems, security systems, and more. In this way, management of the entire building is unified, and hotel teams can collaborate more easily and work more efficiently.
Smart building management systems help hotels push performance higher
Daikin has helped many major hotels in Singapore to achieve their goals. For example:
- At a luxury hotel chain brand property, we implemented a complete EcoStruxure™ Building solution from Schneider Electric, including digital power metering on each chiller and air handling unit (AHU). The solution integrates all equipment monitoring and diagnostics into a single platform, making it simpler and more efficient for Sofitel to maintain its Green Mark Platinum certification.
- At a large shopping mall, an EcoStruxure Building solution integrates monitoring and control for all AHUs, fan coil units (FCUs), and MV fans into a single platform. CO2 sensors are used to automate fresh air dampers to control airflow intake, while each AHU is installed with a variable speed drive (VSD) for automated demand control of fan speed to save energy.
- A 4-star hotel chain asked us to help them reduce their AC power consumption. Our solution provided remote monitoring, diagnostics and fault management, energy management, and efficiency tuning, This resulted in an efficiency improvement from 1.10 kW/ton to 0.90 kW/ton, which is an energy saving of $250,000/year. This enabled the hotel to go from a Green Mark ‘Certified’ to a ‘Gold’ rating.
Many of the hotels we have worked with have also received the ‘Green Hotel Award’ from the Singapore Hotel Association.
To learn more
Daikin – including our subsidiary BMS Engineering – is a total building lifecycle solution provider and leading system integrator for BMS, facilities management, and energy efficiency solutions in the Singapore and Brunei regions. To learn more, visit the Daikin Singapore website.
|Schneider Electric has been recognized as the world’s most sustainable corporation in 2021 by Corporate Knights Global 100 Index.|
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