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Leveraging IoT for Sustainable Hospitality Operations

Leveraging IoT for Sustainable Hospitality Operations

Hoteliers can maximize sustainability initiatives with process automation through IoT-powered solutions for energy conservation, leak detection, temperature monitoring, and more.

In today’s world, sustainable business practices are essential, as the demand for green tourism and eco-friendly hotels among tourists, investors, state and local governing bodies, and regulatory regimes continues to grow. This is especially true for hoteliers with veritable opportunities to advance sustainability initiatives. In doing so, they can help protect the environment and drive profits by appealing to the 75% of global travelers who want to travel more sustainably.  

Recent survey data shows that 100% of hotel owners and operators are increasing or maintaining IT budgets this year, with spending in green tech ranking higher than ever to improve operational sustainability. The right blend of technologies can pave the path to a greener future in hospitality. With IoT, hoteliers can facilitate greener operations while reaping additional benefits like enhanced operations, process automation, and improved resource management.  

Energy Conservation

After employment costs, energy usage is the second largest operating expense for hotels, accounting for about 6% of their yearly operating costs. Additionally, according to Cornell University’s latest Hotel Sustainability Benchmarking Index, hotel energy and water consumption have increased for the first time in 10 annual cycles amid post-pandemic travel surges. Increased energy consumption means increased costs, with supporting data by the U.S. Energy Information Administration showing an over 20% increase in commercial energy price per kilowatt hour (kWh) from 2020 to 2023. In their plight for continued recovery post-pandemic, these rising costs present significant fiscal challenges for hotel owners and operators who must preserve bottom lines without compromising service excellence to ensure guest satisfaction and loyalty. For context, over the past four years, utility costs at U.S. hotels have increased at a pace greater than total operating revenue - from 2.9 percent of total revenue in 2019 to an estimated 3.3 percent in 2023.

The good news is both energy conservation and cost abatement can be achieved via IoT solutions empowering hoteliers to remotely monitor, control, and optimize their consumption rates while improving their bottom line. Leveraging IoT sensors to capture occupancy metrics, hoteliers can make data-informed decisions to intelligently adjust temperature settings, which can optimize their energy usage by up to 40%, minimizing waste and achieving huge cost savings. In fact, a 10 percent reduction in energy consumption would have the same financial effect as increasing the average daily room rate (ADR) by $0.62 in limited-service hotels and $1.35 in full-service hotels. With IoT power monitoring, power usage metrics can be measured and compared across facilities for valuable insights to strategically regulate power-intensive processes, long run-time assets, and heavily-used equipment (think industrial laundry appliances, commercial kitchen equipment, pool heaters, and filtration systems) – which also helps proactively anticipate equipment maintenance and servicing needs, promoting longer lifetimes for these assets. What’s more, by leveraging historical data, hoteliers can identify trends, operational patterns, and inefficiencies in utility usage while uncovering opportunities to implement strategic energy-saving measures.  

Reduce Water Consumption

Between flushing toilets, hot showers, laundry facilities, pools, spas, foodservice operations, landscaping, and more, the hospitality industry consumes a high volume of water. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average hotel uses 218 gallons of water daily per occupied room. It’s no wonder that, in the U.S., water use in hotels and lodging buildings accounts for around 15% of the total water use in both commercial and institutional establishments. That said, high water consumption rates are depreciative to the environment and a hotel’s bottom line – with water leaks incurring unimaginable losses. Because water leaks are often imperceptible, going unnoticed until a significant amount of water is wasted and severe damage has occurred, they’re a silent and catastrophic threat.  

Commercial properties like hotels are especially vulnerable to leaks, with research by LAIIER indicating that a 200,000 square foot hotel with 400 average-sized hotel rooms has approximately 1,600 potential failure points in guest rooms alone. With the addition of laundry facilities, staff, and event venues, an excess of 2,000 potential failure points exist. Environmentally speaking, the impact of water waste from leaks can be devastating, even in perceivably small instances. For example, an eighth-inch crack on a water pipe is capable of leaking about 250 gallons of water a day. The EPA states that a leaky faucet, dripping at the rate of one drip per second, can amount to over 3,000 gallons of water waste per year (or the amount of water needed to take around 180 showers). More supporting data from the EPA highlights that a toilet with a small leak of .02 gallons per minute (gpm) results in water loss of about 850 gallons per month, while toilets with larger leaks of 3 gpm results in water loss of about 4,300 gallons per day.  

The disastrous consequences of water leaks cannot be overstated enough. Beyond water waste, there are several other ramifications hoteliers endure including costly repairs, lost revenue, health and safety hazards, and reputational harm. Recent events confirm the disastrous impact of water leaks in hospitality, with varying consequences depending on the size and location of the leak. One example is a 328-room hotel and convention complex in Colorado. After experiencing at least two leaks within the last four years, they closed their doors on April 1st for eight months to undergo an eye-watering $19 million in infrastructure renovations and water pipe repairs - $14 million of which will be used to replace the water pipes in the 400,000 square foot property. In February, a hotel in Florida, evacuated hundreds of guests and staff who had to climb dozens of flights of stairs to retrieve their belongings after a pipe burst on the hotel’s third floor, leaking onto a transformer and starting an electrical fire where luckily, no one was injured.  

IoT-backed leak detection systems are invaluable for helping hoteliers conserve water and mitigate risk. These systems autonomously monitor, detect, and locate water leaks, triggering real time-alerts with precise location data to direct users to the exact location of the leak. This proactive approach minimizes human intervention and helps protect hotel revenue by ensuring leaks are quickly addressed. What’s more, restrooms are an area where water usage is most prevalent - accounting for 30% of overall water usage - and inefficiencies in plumbing fixtures like faucets, sinks, bathtubs, showers, and toilets also contribute to water waste. IoT-enabled smart restroom products, however, like connected flush valves and faucets can help reduce water waste by prioritizing water efficiency without compromising performance. In the event anomalies are detected, product malfunctions occur, or if water leaks occur, staff receive real-time alerts so that they can immediately, proactively address the matter.  

Minimize Food Waste

Food waste in the hospitality sector has long been regarded as an environmental detriment, with one study showing that hospitality and foodservice operations contribute to around 18% of total food waste.  More supporting data states that the hotel industry alone generates 79,000 tons of food waste annually. On a more positive note, the IDC predicts that by 2027, 55% of hospitality and travel organizations will invest in AI and IoT-powered devices to identify and reduce waste by 20% . This is great news for profitability, as studies suggest that for every $1 invested in food loss and waste reduction, companies can expect a $14 return. Equally promising are reports indicating over 82% of hotels implemented food waste prevention strategies in the last year, including community food donation programs and efforts to divert waste from landfills.  

IoT presents a monumental opportunity to revolutionize sustainability in hospitality by significantly reducing food waste through automation. In fact, by 2029, nearly half of hospitality organizations are expected to earmark as much as 25% of their IT budgets to automate services and processes. A notable example is IoT-enabled temperature monitoring, which automates the monitoring and logging of refrigerator/freezer temperatures in foodservice operations. If temperatures approach critical thresholds, staff are alerted in real-time to provide quick corrective action. This ensures cold holding units maintain optimal temperatures, preventing food spoilage and enhancing food safety. Plus, by eliminating the need for staff to manually assess and record temperature data, IoT-powered sensors streamline compliance reporting and free up staff time to focus on higher-value tasks like customer satisfaction and guest loyalty.  

Sustainability Starts Here: Partner with MachineQ for Greener Hospitality Operations

IoT offers dynamic opportunities to enhance sustainability in back-of-house operations, such as promoting energy conservation, reducing water consumption, and minimizing food waste. In addition, IoT delivers other benefits like time savings, resource availability, enhanced productivity, and massive cost savings that essentially pay back the solution’s investment value over a few years. Contact MachineQ today to learn more.

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