As commercial buildings go, hotels have a particularly high bar to meet when it comes to the occupant experience. As a “home away from home,” hotels are expected to maintain a pleasant, comfortable indoor environment in all aspects, including indoor air quality. And while “bad” air isn’t necessarily something guests will complain about, it is something that could prevent them from returning.
Today, thanks to the easy availability of advanced technology—and greater awareness of the negative health impacts of an unclean breathing environment—an increasing number of hotels are prioritizing indoor air quality monitoring. This article covers two main benefits of monitoring indoor air quality in hotels (one of which might surprise you).
Why monitor indoor air quality in hotels? Two Important Reasons
Hotel facility managers play a key role in delivering on a hotel’s promise of an exceptional experience; they’re also tasked with making sure the building itself is operating at peak performance. Indoor air quality monitoring can help accomplish both.
1. Improve The Guest Experience
Air quality is about more than temperature and humidity; it’s also about indoor contaminants that could have serious health effects on your guests (and employees), as well as cause discomfort.
- An excess of carbon dioxide (CO2) could cause drowsiness or feelings of stuffiness.
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are actually the main contributors to poor indoor air quality, could cause headaches; eye, nose, and throat irritation; fatigue; and, in the long term, damage to organs such as the liver, kidney, and central nervous system.
- Dust and particles (called particulate matter, or PM), especially those small enough to be inhaled, could cause a range of allergic symptoms in the short term; they could also aggravate people with asthma and impact peoples’ respiratory systems.
Other indoor air pollutants are also of some concern, but those listed above are the most common. There are a range of potential sources of these pollutants, including cleaning products, carpeting, engineered wood furniture and treated fabrics (all of which could release VOCs). Carpets and surfaces, as well as cigarette smoking, could also produce dust and particles. All you need to be proactive about identifying and addressing these issues is a reliable indoor air quality monitoring system.
2. Increase Operating Efficiency (& Save Money)
Years ago, when studies were first done showing the effects of a high concentration of CO2 on human health, it was clear there needed to be guidelines around permissible levels of CO2 in large buildings. The more occupants there are in a room or building, the more CO2 is released into the air. To prevent CO2 levels from rising too high, outside air needs to be brought into the building through a ventilation system. And since there was no way to measure indoor air quality all those years ago, the guidelines were focused on the thing that could be measured: the amount of outside air a building should bring in based on a building’s total occupancy rate. ASHRAE recommends 15 to 20 cubic feet per minute of outdoor air per person, for a steady-state CO2 concentration of about 700 parts per million (PPM) above outdoor air levels (which are usually around 300 to 500 PPM).
The problem with this approach is that buildings aren’t usually fully occupied—some spaces are vacant while others are not. As a result, hotel ventilation systems often bring in more outside air than necessary, which then has to be conditioned (heated or cooled) before being introduced into the environment. That means your hotel’s air conditioning and heating units, as well as the motors and fans that are part of the air handling units, are working harder than they need to in an effort to bring the outside air temperature down or up.Today, it is possible to measure the indoor air quality in hotels and other buildings, which is a game-changer when it comes to reducing your energy costs. Click To Tweet
Sensors placed in various areas of the building monitor CO2 levels in real time. (You can monitor VOC levels with a different type of sensor, but CO2 is also a good indicator of the presence of VOCs—if CO2 rises, there’s a good chance VOC levels are, too.) Based on CO2 levels, a demand control ventilation system automatically directs the air handling units to adjust the outside air intake. So if CO2 levels are adequate, it reduces the outside air intake; if they are approaching the limit, it brings in additional outside air. That reduces the work for your heating and cooling units, and, by extension, reduces your energy bill, sometimes by as much as 15% to 20%. In fact, in an effort to encourage hotels and other commercial buildings to reduce their energy usage with demand control ventilation, many utility companies offer rebates for buildings that implement it.
How To Start Monitoring Indoor Air Quality At Your Hotel
It’s simple to get started with indoor air quality monitoring. When you partner with a company like Iota, you get the necessary sensors and advanced software for monitoring, along with the technical expertise of our team, who can get things rolling and also help you interpret the results of your efforts.
We have a number of sensor types that allow you to remotely monitor various air quality characteristics, including VOCs, CO2, and particulate matter; we’ll also recommend actions you can take to resolve issues impacting your guest experience. And if you’d like to learn more about how our demand control ventilation solution—and our other remote monitoring systems—can help your hotel become more energy efficient, let’s talk.