IAQ to ROI: How Healthy, Sustainable Materials and FF&E Selection Pays Off
By Joshua Zinder, AIA Principal, JZA+D | May 26, 2013
We are a transient society. Whether for business or leisure, Americans spend a great deal of time on the road, in spite of the promises of the digital revolution. And we are not alone: while the U.S. Travel Association projects that total domestic travel will grow by 3% this year over 2012, international inbound travel is projected to grow 4.3%, with 7.1% growth in spending by these international travelers.
With so many of us spending an increasing number of nights away from home, it's only natural that we would want our hotels to feel like a home away from home, and more and more hotel patrons are factoring indoor air quality (IAQ) into their choices. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that clinics specializing in travel health find that as many as 25% of patron complaints are related to air quality. And because we now live in the Digital Age, unhappy guests can reach a virtually unlimited audience of potential guests with their complaints, by posting them as online reviews.
The fact is, environments matter to people, and hospitality venues need to meet their patrons' needs for healthy environments. Happily, many of the solutions to this challenge are low-cost and cost-effective, both for new facilities and those facing renovation.
Selection of finish materials, coatings, coverings, furniture and other equipment that create indoor environments have a substantial effect on IAQ. When poor choices are made in these areas, they can contribute more to poor air quality than mold or mildew. When properly specified, these elements can do more than sustain good IAQ: they can contribute to a hospitality venue's image and reputation as a green, sustainable business that cares about the environment, as well as providing a healthy environment for guests.
What's more, this can be achieved without sacrificing the aesthetic vision that the venue management strives for. Of course, many hotels are already environmentally aware, and have already taken steps to become more green, in both construction and operation. Note that this trend includes major chains and well-known brands like Wyndham and Marriott, and other brands that have chosen to make sustainability their hallmark, such as Starwood. The hospitality industry is already responding to the demand for healthier environments.
Defining Healthy Materials
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