Smart Data for Dumb Hotel Buildings

Lower Utility Expenses and Higher Efficiency Without New Hardware

By Shannon Sentman Chief Executive Officer & Founder, SOL VISTA | May 21, 2017

  • One-time efforts typically start with a building assessment and sometimes move forward to actual implementation of high return on investment measures. Often, they just end with a thick building assessment sitting on a desk somewhere for further consideration at a "later date."

Although such an initial step is worthwhile for any hotel with the resources and intent to follow through, implementing an effective strategy to better manage a hotel's utility expenses on an ongoing basis will lead to continuous cost reductions with little upfront or ongoing investment. Implementing such a strategy works by leveraging a building's historic data to glean insights into its current performance. These insights are the foundation for flagging issues as they arise, determining their cause, and directing actions to resolve them. Many low-cost software platforms offered today provide both the required data aggregation and analytics to successfully implement such a strategy.

Tapping into Available Data

  • Energy and Water

Effective management of utility expenses typically does not require the level of visibility afforded by retrofitting an existing hotel with hardware to provide ready access to real-time meter data. Although real-time data can prove beneficial - especially when a knowledgeable, experienced engineering team is in place to proactively address issues as they arise - good old-fashioned data sources coupled with advanced analytics will provide a much better return on investment.

Adequate visibility into utility consumption is achievable from two existing sources: a hotel's utility bills and its meters and submeters. Although data are available to almost all hotels from these sources, implementing a strategy to leverage the sources may require additional staff time. Available software tools can significantly mitigate (or even eliminate) these additional time requirements in several ways, including providing interfaces to simplify logging meter reads into a centralized data hub and automating the aggregation of utility bill data. Although a strategy that incorporates either of these data sources could be effective, combining the two offers the biggest benefit.

Examining ongoing utility bill data expands visibility beyond just consumption, enabling consideration of the actual utility costs. This cost consideration is an important missing piece from any strategy that relies solely on real-time metering hardware. With adequate expertise, the inclusion of ongoing cost data bolsters a strategy with more than simply cutting utility consumption, focusing instead on cutting utility costs. This may include understanding time-of-use rates for various utilities and scheduling loads accordingly. Such a strategy may not actually reduce utility consumption at all, while decreasing costs significantly.

Adding meter read logs to utility bill data will increase the overall granularity and timeliness of consumption data being analyzed. The intervals at which meter reads should be logged depends on the level of granularity desired and the availability of staff resources. Logging meter reads after the end of each month is often sufficient to support a successful utility expense reduction strategy.

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