CLARK KELLY looks at some ways hotel designers can green their interiors
Those hoteliers who don’t go green will be left behind – whether on the design or operations front. When planning properties across for the region, interior designers would do well to bear in mind that sustainability isn’t an option anymore, hoteliers were told at a seminar during last month’s Hotel Show.
“Well over 80 per cent of tourists want a sustainable solution to their travels and more than 40 percent of them are prepared to pay more for it. With a marketing reach of over 1 billion consumers worldwide, reputable organisations such as GGC are a trusted source,” Bradley Cox of the internationally recognised Green Globe Certificate said.
The number of environmentally aware tourists are rising as more and more travellers consider their impact on the environment.
“The travel experience itself becomes a tangible expression of the travellers’ desire to be sustainable, and hotels need to match this image in order to sustain their future development,” said Cox.
Suppliers, of course, have already understood this and have created products that both save money and help the environment. For those who still don’t get it, Sandrine Le Biavant, Consultancy Division manager at facilities management company Farnek Avireal, which provides Green Globe and Leed (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) auditing in the Middle East, puts it in language hoteliers will understand: “The bottom line with sustainability is that it saves hotels money by dramatically cutting utility bills while promoting environmental awareness and corporate social responsibility (CSR) at the same time as keeping guests and shareholders happy.
In a nutshell, hotels could reduce their carbon emissions by over 6,000 tonnes per annum and save at least $5 per room per night.” Dubai hotels, for example, were estimated to have wasted a staggering $27 million for the year 2010 in utility bills alone – a direct result of not implementing efficient green technologies.
With that powerful message echoing in our heads, Middle East Interiors has put together a list of areas project teams can create sustainable interior design for hotels.
Ecophon panels: Getting acoustics in
FURNITURE AND FURNISHINGS
Just one example of the way manufacturers are responding to the demand for green furniture: French design guru Philippe Starck made waves at the New York Design Week recently with his Broom Chair for the manufacturer Emeco.
Its ultra-simple modern design belies the fact that it is produced from 90 per cent pre-consumer waste. Emeco is a US-based chair manufacturer that has long focused on creating chairs with sustainable materials, but this is by far their most sustainable chair to-date. Starck was inspired by manufacturing processes in factories, where he noticed that excess materials like unused wood shavings and extra plastics were being thrown away. He imagined taking a broom and sweeping up all of these leftover materials to create something new. The result is a chair made from 75 per cent reclaimed polypropylene, 15 per cent reclaimed wood fibres and 10 per cent glass fibre. And it is light, stackable and functional.
At the Hotel Show, bed manufactuer Hypnos, which holds a royal warrant from Queen Elizabeth II, presented a new innovative mattress material called eOlus fibre, which is made from recycled plastic bottles and acts as a substitute for synthetic foam. The company, which supplies to the JW Marriott Hotel in Dubai and the Corinthia Hotel, London, to name a few clients, ensures all timber in its divans is certified as being sourced from sustainable managed forests. “Our challenge is to consider sustainability, recycling and the environment in everything we do and to demonstrate that we care about the environment we live in,” said Chris Ward, director of marketing.
There are others adding to the wide range of eco-fabrics available. UK-based Camira Fabrics uses stinging nettles to produce a strong, soft, naturally fire-retardant textile that is blended with wool for upholstery. German fashion designer and microbiologist Anke Domaske has developed a new award-winning silky fabric, QMilch, that is reportedly derived from a substance extracted from milk, and produced entirely without chemicals. And The Formary, a go-to design firm in New Zealand, has combined recycled jute from Starbucks’ coffee sacks with wool for interior seating at the café chain.
PAINT AND WALLCOVERINGS
Clean sweep: The Philippe
Starck-designed Broom chair is
produced from 90 per cent waste
Wallcoverings don’t just set the ambience, some hotel designers use them to make a statement. The Fairmont Royal York in Toronto developed a comprehensive “green action plan” back in the early 90s, in response to a survey that more than 90 per cent of employees like working for companies with environmentally friendly practices.
Besides energy-efficient lights and non-toxic cleaning products, this hotel makes sure guestrooms’ carpets and wallcoverings and paints are made with low volatile organic compound (VOC) materials. VOCs, when they escape into the air, contribute to air pollution both outdoors and in the rooms where they are used with long-term health effects.
Even wallcoverings can be eco-friendly, with some being made from recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) cola bottles or from sustainable natural fibres such as bamboo and banana. In addition, wallcoverings can save electricity.
Because they do not allow the transfer of heat or coolness from one area to another, a room cools faster and the AC switch off time is higher. This saves up to five or six per cent in terms of air-conditioning costs and about seven to eight per cent of heating costs.
Others perform multiple functions. Ecophon wall panels, for example, offer designers a stylish way of getting acoustics in order. While premises with good acoustics are normally related to walls and ceilings having small holes and patterned surfaces, Ecophon which is made of over 70 per cent recycled glass wool and is 100 per cent recyclable, offers a choice of different surfaces, 13 different colours and a profile system that is easy to install.
Paint manufacturers have already shown how their products can be eco-friendly. A major player on this front is Jotun, which made a strong showing at gulfInteriors 2012 with green interior and exterior paint products being displayed. Its Majestic EcoHealth range has been attracting attention for some time now, given its status as a green product free from chemicals that emit greenhouse gases such as APEO (alkylphenol ethoxylate), formaldehyde, heavy metals and one that has has ultra-low VOC levels. Similarly, its Fenomastic Gold interior paint, available in any colour, has low VOC levels, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-fire spread properties, a high crack tolerance of 1.4 mm, and applies easily and dries quickly for seamless touch-ups.
HEATING AND COOLING SYSTEMS
The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is critical to the comfortable operation of most buildings and is responsible for up to 40 per cent of a building’s energy consumption. In a hotel, due to 24/7 operation, HVAC electrical consumption can account for as much as 30 per cent of the hotel’s total operating costs. Accordingly, efficiency remains a top priority for HVAC systems as utility costs continue to rise.
Certified green hotels have state-of-the-art energy efficient systems that are well designed – with coefficients of performance (COP) clocking in at no less than 6.1, while non-green hotels save by limiting the use of variable frequency drives (VFDs) and steering clear of 134A refrigerants for their compressors, which are more expensive.
All attention on the efficiency front focuses on the chiller plant. More than 35 per cent of the power required to run any building is consumed in one place: the central chilled water plant. Plants also represents your biggest opportunity for increased savings, reducing environmental impact and getting a faster payback on upgrade investments. To become more energy efficient, a facility’s plant and equipment must be designed, installed and operated as a single, integrated system. Among the most innovative products on this front is Johnson Controls’ heat pump is an energy-efficient product that works as a reverse-cycle chiller to meet both heating and cooling needs of a hotel.
As a result of increasingly rigorous energy standards, guest room terminal units using the energy-efficient electronic commutated (EC) fan motor technology are also becoming a popular component of HVAC systems. The new Trane Tracer ZN525 controller ensures optimum energy efficiency, increases comfort and reduces operating noise when combined with EC fan motor technology. It was developed to meet the specific comfort needs of hotels and is certified as a LonMark Space Comfort Controller type SCC 8501.
Roca basin: Urban range
reduces water consumption
From three-star resorts in Kerala to five-star properties in Miami, green technology has invaded hotel bathrooms. Given their huge outlay on electricity and water, hotels were among the first to look for green solutions in the guest rooms, installing low-watt bulbs and putting advisory notes about laundry around in prominent places in the room. Today, hotels incorporate green bathtubs in hotels and look to putting in place energy-efficient fittings.
Over at Grohe, this trend is referred to as conscious luxury. “Water is being seriously considered as a scarce resource and the concept of luxury at the cost of resources in no more accepted. Grohe Ecojoy products squarely address this issue by allowing water savings of up to 68 per cent which can be achieved without any compromise on performance and design,” David Haines, chief executive officer at Grohe AG, said in a statement. Reducing water consumption with Grohe’s eco-products implies less water needs to be heated for a comfortable temperature at the washbasin; water savings generate electricity savings. A 100-bedroom hotel would save up to 6.8 million litres of water and 186,000 kWh of energy per year.
The company is among the few manufacturers who have already had their first faucets classified for the new European Water Efficiency Label (WELL), which certifies savings in water consumption.
Roca, meanwhile, uses the basin to create a focal point in the bathroom with its Urban range of countertop basins. Made from vitreous china, each basin has a shallow bowl which helps encourage reduced water consumption. With its smooth curved spout, the Urban tap creates a beautiful water curtain effect when the water flows. And the tap is fitted with a flow restrictor that reduces water consumption to a maximum of seven litres per minute.
Other areas hotels can save in bathrooms - The Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai has some pointers: by using recycled water from its own sewage treatment plant for flushing of toilets, the installation of water aerators in rain showers to reduce wastage of water, and by using P traps in the shower area, which saves on wear and tear of shower cubicle parts.
The first area that designers tackled when green became the rage, lighting continues to be a strong area of change.
Lighting designer Beau McClellan, who collaborates with B5 in the Middle East, displayed a few of his ideas at the Hotel Show. Ray, a streamlined fixture made from aluminium and crystal, is made for both indoor and outdoor use, using high-powered LEDs (light-emitting diodes) to project a ray of light in either direction, while the ground crystal in the middle section captures the light to produce a contrasting warm glow. Fluid is another design, a tear-shaped pendant which conceals an LED within optical hand-ground crystal that serves to maximise the light source and strengthen its effect.
Talking to Middle East Interiors at the show, he said demand for eco-friendly lighting has risen considerably recently as project specifiers look to deliver energy-saving solutions. “We’ve taken the entire range, including the Red Dot Design winners, and upgraded them so they’re green and efficient,” said McClellan, who launched a stunning modular chandelier for large projects at the show.
Like McClellan has done, existing hotels can simply choose to retrofit their properties, given the vast benefits of LEDs: some fixtures can deliver up to 85 per cent energy savings, while the diodes last between 50,000 to 100,000 hours. That should be enough to convince clients to ‘greenlight’ that retro-fit now.