Last week in my Facilities Management course at the Cornell Hotel School, Al Nels, Global Account Manager for Marriott from Schneider Electric, presented in class as a guest speaker. His presentation explored the energy-saving capabilities of various systems developed by Schneider Electric, as well as simple tips that hotels often overlook. Among the many insights Nels shared, one in particular stood out to me: the cultural divide between American and European hotel guests—and the steps that Schneider is taking in order to save energy in both areas of the world.
To start, some of you may be familiar with guestroom keycard energy controls (picture above). This refers to the small slots by the guestroom door that you may see in almost all Asian and European hotels. When a guest enters the room, she places her keycard inside the slot, which activates all electricity in the room. If the keycard is removed, everything is shut down; these controls save an abundance of energy by ensuring that lights and appliances are totally deactivated when the guest leaves the room. By and large, these slots have been successful and widely adapted in Europe and Asia.
But when it comes to the United States, Al Nels told our class, American travelers have been especially resistant. Nels noticed that U.S. travelers often insert business cards—and anything else that fits—into these energy control slots, in order to keep guestroom electricity activated when they are gone. Nels believed that the difference is a cultural one and that American travelers simply tend to be more insistent on having total control. This is where Schneider Electric got very creative in their response: with the introduction of the Cassia In-Room Energy Management System.
At its core, Cassia is a motion-detector system that provides guests with the illusion of control, while saving electricity when the guest is gone. A complete system consists of door sensors, motion sensors, radio-connected thermostats, and a host of other networked equipment. All of these gadgets work together in order to detect the guest’s presence (or absence) from the hotel room. If the guest is gone, the system overrides the guest’s thermostat setting and turns off all lights and appliances. When the guest returns—i.e., the very moment the system detects the door opening—all previous settings are reactivated in a fraction of a second. The system also allows the hotel front desk to control and track individual rooms’ energy use, and its payback period is very attractive.
Companies like Schneider Electric are finding innovative ways to ensure that hotels operating with any cultural restraints can save energy. To learn more about Cassia and Schneider, click here.