Hotels are big business. This is true not only from a financial standpoint, but literally. In Europe alone it is estimated that there are over 5 million guest rooms and it takes a lot of energy to power that amount of space. Although no collective data is available on global energy consumption in the hotel sector, past estimates have shown that 97,5 TWh of energy was used in hotel facilities worldwide (2001) and that 12-18% of this was on lighting.
Given these realities, there exists within the hospitality industry both a significant opportunity to reduce environmental impact related to energy consumption, and a powerful financial incentive to do so too. As is always the case with the hotel industry, it is important that any changes result in a healthy, productive, comfortable environment for guests. For both of these reasons, an analysis of trends regarding hotel lighting is a great place for hoteliers to look when contemplating changes that might benefit both their guests and their bottom line. Not only because lighting is accountable for a significant percentage of energy usage, but also as it is something that impacts guest perceptions of a space, whether they are cognizant of this fact or not.
A Farewell to Incandescent
With nearly 8 out of 10 consumers thinking it is important that properties implement eco-friendly practicesand government regulations that are gradually becoming more stringent, the expectations being placed on hoteliers with regard to environmentally responsible construction and operations are rising.
Indeed, the vast majority of businesses (91%) agree that operating in an eco-friendly manner is important, with the most common initiative energy-efficient light bulbs (87%)- and compact fluorescent (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED) lamps playing a big role.
Most light fixtures can now accommodate some form of CFL or LED lamp, making it simple for hoteliers to save on energy and maintenance costs while still providing aesthetically pleasing lighting. While more expensive than incandescent bulbs, these lamps pay for themselves through energy savings—a CFL lamp does so within about six months, using 75 percent less energy and lasting 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb. An LED uses even less energy and can last up to 50,000 hours, not surprising then that the LED lighting market in Europe is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 41% between 2010 and 2015.
A Return to Simplicity
Clean, simple and elegant is in. Some hotel design experts have expressed a belief that guests want little in the way of trendy aesthetics and more value for their money. As a result, they expect there will be a shift toward simplified, yet seemingly sophisticated designthat combines lighting and architecture as an art form. GE and USG recently joined forces to create an integrated lighting and ceiling system to create a more open, visually appealing ceiling architecture that also combats over-lighting, showcasing the sort of thinking that will make “simple and elegant” easily attainable.
Another emerging trend comes from visionary hoteliers creating properties that stretch our collective understanding of what a hotel is. These thought leaders are developing multidimensional hotel concepts designed to create a certain experience by integrating elements from other building types, such as theaters, galleries or restaurants, with more traditional hotel design. What this means for hotel lighting design is that the traditional t-grid and acoustical tile layout that is so commonplace in commercial lighting arrangements will no longer cut it for hotels. As hotel architecture shifts, so too must lighting design to create a unique, appropriate atmosphere that suits a desired brand image and “feel”.
Attracting Office Nomads
One specific way in which hoteliers are embracing a hybrid design concept is by providing more spaces reserved for meeting and business functions. Many workers have no steady office for at least one day a week. As a result, hotels are beginning to focus on providing not only a place to rest your head, but a place to rest your laptop and notepad, as well.Beyond providing free WiFi and electrical outlets in a lobby, hotels are beginning to offer conference rooms rentable by the hour which may come with interactive worktables, whiteboards, a lounge and more. This trend means that appropriate lighting design must take place to facilitate presentations, detail-oriented tasks and other business functions.
Getting Their Good Side
As part of this shift toward more business being conducted at hotels, it is important not to forget some of the specialized audio-visual lighting needs that come with it. For instance, there is an increasing awareness that lighting designers should be involved when designing videoconference spacesto ensure everyone participating is being seen in the best light, especially because these conferences may account for the only “face-to-face” interaction some professionals may have with one another.
Benefiting the Baby Boomers
As the baby boomer generation reaches senior citizenship, we will see an ongoing need for better lighting quality in general throughout hotel spaces. One form in which this will likely manifest is in the installation of more LED lights, which go beyond energy efficiency to provide a very clean, uniformly distributed white light. There is also likely to be a need for more variability in lighting levels to give guests more control over illuminationin certain spaces.Finally, there is likely to be a need for more comprehensive, layered lighting design that accounts for ambient, accent and task lighting to deliver illumination levels that create maximum comfort and desirable aesthetics appropriate to the location and room usage.
Take Control, Wirelessly
One way to facilitate appropriate lighting for spaces regardless of the hour is to integrate wireless lighting sensors for daylight harvesting in tandem with occupancy sensors. These tools not only lower energy costs by supplying lighting for a space only when appropriate, but help to avoid over-lighting as well. Wireless sensors make it simple to install these technologies without the time and costs associated with running wires behind walls and ceilings, and it makes it simple to reconfigure spaces in the future.
As part of the move toward more sensors and more advanced energy saving techniques, hoteliers are exploring how they can more comprehensively integrate lighting into building systems. Some hotels now require a room keycard to be inserted into a switch that activates lighting, heating, air conditioning, and even radio or television controls within a room. This simple change limits the amount of energy wasted when systems are activated, but rooms are unoccupied, and it showcases for one of many ways automation can save on energy costs.
While there are many trends driving lighting design in the hospitality industry, there are considerations unique to every hotel chain and location that should drive lighting strategy. To determine a path forward that makes sense for you, contact GE Lighting to schedule a professional lighting audit.
Written by Francesco De Vivo, Retail and Hospitality Manager - Europe, GE Lighting
Source: GE Lighting
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