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Quality heating and cooling within the hospitality sector is central to guest wellbeing advises Tom Hall, Corporate Business Development Manager at Mitsubishi Electric

Guest comfort is an absolute priority for any hotel, but running costs, maintenance regimes and staying abreast of changing legislation are more pressing concerns for the facilities managers trying to keep the establishment running.

Heating and cooling are a key component of maintaining guest comfort but can also have a significant bearing on how the hotel runs and earns as well. The onus therefore needs to be on making sure an air conditioning system is fit for purpose and there are the controls in place to maximise efficiency and performance, while also minimising costs.

Looked at in the context of ever-evolving energy legislation and guests that are increasingly mindful of sustainability – basing more of their lifestyle choices on how businesses are meeting their environmental commitments – choosing the right air conditioning system becomes even more integral.

This is a challenge for hotels, but it also presents facilities managers with an opportunity to improve internal environments for guests and steal a march on the competition at the same time. Versatile heating and cooling systems are integral to helping hotels deliver on this potential but it’s not always clear how hotels can juggle guest comfort, sustainability requirements and safety regulations, all without breaking the bank.

So, how can facilities managers in the hospitality industry seek to strike this balance and choose the right system for them?

Closing off parts of the hotel for any amount of time can have a material impact on earnings and can have a knock-on effect on guest enjoyment during the ongoing works. Therefore, for a facilities manager looking to keep guest disruption to an absolute minimum, picking a system that can be installed with the least impact to residents is a must – especially if that work needs to be done during peak seasons.

A key consideration is whether a system offers the flexibility of being able to be installed floor-by-floor to minimise disruption and maximise the number of rooms still available for guests. This allows hotels to stay open during the installation, thereby reducing the impact to their bottom line, but also affording FMs the flexibility of being able to ringfence the rooms they can keep open while the works are happening.

In addition to these regulatory obligations, it’s impossible to escape the fact that consumers are much more attuned to their personal impact on the environment. From eating less meat to moving away from single use plastics and turning towards hybrid and electric vehicles, vast swathes of the population are becoming more green-minded. The hotel industry isn’t immune to this consumer-mindset shift either. The ubiquity of in-room signs allowing guests to forego the usual turn down service to alleviate their impact on the environment are an indication of this, but more scrutiny is invariably going to fall on how hotels maintain their internal environments too in the future.

This is where it pays to employ air conditioning systems that can monitor individual rooms to avoid waste and offset cooling in one area with heating in another to maximise efficiency.

Then there’s the impetus for change being created by ever-stringent energy legislation. Most facilities managers will already be aware of regulations in place to minimise the emission of F-Gases from equipment, through leak detection, reduction, repair, containment and recovery.

It’s important to be mindful of how these changing regulations will have an impact on the systems you choose to install. Regulations such as BS EN378, for example, mean that you may need to add leak detection equipment – which can be costly to install and maintain. In Hybrid Variable Refrigerant Flow (HVRF) systems, water replaces refrigerant to transfer heating and cooling around the majority of the building, thereby removing the need to install leak detection in occupied spaces.

Not only can Hybrid VRF help remove the need for leak detection, refrigerants like R32 can reduce the total Global Warming Potential (GWP) of the system. This is especially important for making sure your system is future-proofed to comply with the phase down of F-Gases. It’s important to consider elements like this to make sure that you aren’t caught out by future regulations.

Other considerations when choosing a system include thinking about something which is flexible and can provide different temperatures for each room, ensuring that every guest is comfortable at whatever temperature they want; and also making sure that the system’s controller can automate the control, monitoring and reporting to ease the workload of busy facilities managers. Additionally, room controllers can be personalised with the logo of the hotel.

All of these factors combine to create quite a challenge for facilities managers, who need to provide consistent internal comfort to guests but also make sure they are within the bounds of existing and forthcoming legislation and staying on the right side of consumer sentiment – while also ensuring they remain within budget.

Choosing the right air conditioning unit has the ability to tackle all of these considerations in one swoop. As hotels face increased competition from the likes of Airbnb, amplifying their unique selling points and ability to provide absolute comfort while also delivering on a commitment to sustainability, is more important than ever.

For more information, visit les.mitsubishielectric.co.uk

About Sarah OBeirne

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