Intelligent Room Automation Solution Yields 50 Percent Utility Rebate for 5-Star Hotel

By Mark Jerge, General Manager and Partner, Salvatores Grand Hotel | July 03, 2014

Salvatores Grand Hotel in Buffalo, NY, maintained its 5-Star guest experience while retrofitting their facility with an intelligent room automation solution that combines the benefits of several wireless standards. As a result, the hotel was rewarded with energy savings and a rebate from the local utility company in New York.  
 
Built in 2008, the Salvatores Grand Hotel provides its guests a unique mixture of fine dining and true hospitality in comfortable, well-appointed rooms. Last year, the hotel gained the Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor. It’s one of the owner’s highest goals to keep up the hotel’s standard with the times. This includes the reduction of energy consumption when sold and unsold guestrooms are left vacant.
 
 
Motion into energy
To achieve this objective without affecting the guests’ well being, we chose a solution based on self-powered wireless keycard switches from Verve Living Systems. These devices integrate EnOcean energy harvesting wireless technology that enables the switches to send a wireless signal just by the motion when putting the card into the switch. The mechanism behind is based on an electro-mechanical energy converter that transforms motion into energy to power a wireless module. Working without cables and batteries, the key card switches are very easy to retrofit, actually within some few minutes, and work maintenance-free. Now, Heating & Air Conditioning Units (PTACs) and bedside lamps were setback and turned off respectively in response to the occupancy status of the room.
 
We knew there was an opportunity to save on energy costs, but due to the building's infrastructure, a hard-wired solution was out of the question. Wiring the property would not only be too cumbersome and expensive, but it would require taking rooms out of inventory and high occupancy levels prohibited this type of installation. We had been looking for options and actually tried installing energy-saving motion sensors when constructing the property, but they were not guest-friendly and we soon removed them. The only solution we found to be a true 'home run' was wireless control of HVAC and lighting. This not only allowed us to take a hands-on approach to guestroom controls; it gave our guests a choice in whether or not they want to participate in our efforts to save energy and ultimately contribute positively to our environment.
 
 
Connecting wireless standards
We opted to network the in-room control systems together so that the guestrooms could be controlled remotely through the cloud and at the hotel front desk. The added functions and control were enabled by the ZENO InnPoint Gateway Platform. The software/hardware configuration is designed to remotely facilitate the control of room lighting, heating and cooling. The platform supports EnOcean wireless communications, while also supporting other communication protocols such as BACnet, Modbus, TCP/IP or ZigBee.
 
Energy saving through remote control
This technology delivers fast, simple commissioning and installation of energy saving technologies while extending the functionality of energy harvesting wireless devices by making it possible for a hotel's front desk to remotely control the guestroom equipment. For example at check-in, the hotel front desk can now touch a button on a computer screen to set a guestroom in "Welcome Mode" prior to the guest's entry.
 
In addition to providing benefits at check out, Verve-powered by ZENO will also provide a real guest-service at check-in. We used to leave a lamp on after cleaning to welcome the guest upon arrival. Some lamps theoretically could be on for two days with no occupants. Now, we will leave all lights off after our cleaning inspection and then, as soon as a guest is registered, the front desk will turn on two bedside lamps remotely so that when the door opens, instead of searching for a light switch, the room is already displayed with ambient lighting. Room temperature also can be pre-set and activated at check in. It's a great way to greet your guests and provide that heightened level of service that is so often lacking at larger hotel chains.
 
Based on occupancy, front desk staff can put a stop to energy waste by turning on or off room lighting and HVAC when guests are not in their rooms. This not only reduces energy costs, but it is respectful of the guest experience. In addition, because these controls are managed in the cloud, it is possible to monitor energy consumption online from anywhere in the world through any available personal computer or smart phone that is connected to the internet.
 
Payback period cut in half
In addition to the energy and maintenance savings inherent to the wireless controls, Salvatores Grand Hotel was also rewarded with a 50 percent rebate from the local utility company in New York. All in all, the hotel was able to secure a rebate that cut the payback period of the system in half.

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