Taking a stance on sustainability

Sustainability is something that all industries need to pay attention to if we are to reduce our negative impact on the environment. One of the main aspects around sustainability concerns how we use energy and the resulting carbon emissions from its consumption — all of which can deplete our natural resources and pollute the environment if energy isn’t managed in the right way.

However, for an economy to survive, energy consumption is essential and as population growth continues, it also increases. The government’s Clean Growth Strategy (CGS) addresses this by aiming for economic growth with greater protection for our environment. The strategy sets out to cut emissions, increase efficiency and help lower the amount businesses and consumers spend on energy across the country.

We all have a part to play. Indeed, it has been calculated that 30% of all global annual CO2 emissions stem from energy consumption within buildings. Additionally, tourism accounts for approximately eight percent, according to Nature Climate Change, so the hotel and catering industry has a large part to play in reducing its consumption to meet a more sustainable future.

Balancing sustainability with design

In the hospitality industry, there is a delicate balance between the focus on sustainability and ensuring the environment that is created is welcoming, comfortable and properly reflects the brand. And hotels and restaurants consume large amounts of energy doing this for all manner of requirements, such as heating, lighting, ventilation and cooling, cooking, disposal etc.

But, improvements can be made in many areas. For example, using modern methods of construction during the design and build phase reduces a building’s carbon footprint as well as improving its energy efficiency. One of the easiest and most effective ways to become more sustainable is through the use of LED lighting which not only reduces energy consumption and carbon emissions, but can also reduce lighting costs by up to 70%.

Also, integrating natural elements into designs, such as roof gardens and courtyards make for pleasing and attractive spaces while also promoting sustainability.

One interesting development in the hospitality sector is the expectations of visitors. For instance, according to The American Hotel and Lodging Association, fostering community among travellers is increasingly important and many hotels are recognising this with the implementation of communal living spaces.  And nothing makes these spaces more welcoming than the warm glow of a fireplace. The issue here is that fires are generally not sustainable. They require non-renewable fuel and give off not only smoke particulates which are not good for the immediate environment (i.e. guests), but also environmentally polluting CO2 emissions. And many will be put off by the health and safety issues, the need for proper ventilation, and the design challenges for architects, particularly in listed buildings. Yet, they have the undeniable ability to create memorable, relaxing and statement spaces in which guests want to linger.

Embracing flame technology

So, what’s the best way around this? 3D electric flame mimics flame so realistically that many people can’t immediately tell the difference. And it’s a sustainable technology which mitigates any of the health and safety and installation challenges

Electric flame technology does not produce a real flame; the flame effect is safe, cool to the touch and therefore cannot cause injury. With no embers or real flame, there is no risk of a fire starting and then spreading. Additionally, they don’t need a working chimney or flue, or give off any heat, meaning that they can be used throughout the year to add ambience and character to a space.

In terms of sustainability, electric flame technology is classified as 100% energy efficient at point of use and uses minimal electricity. Putting that into perspective, if business electricity rates are 10.5p per kilowatt hour, an electric fireplace could cost as little as £1.20 per day. Potentially this energy can be provided from renewable sources, resulting in no carbon emissions from either the production or use of the electricity by the electric fire.

Technology in action: Hyatt Regency

To give an example, Glen Dimplex Heating and Ventilation completed a project with the Hyatt Regency hotel in Birmingham. The hotel wanted to make a deliberate move away from the traditional, corporate look-and-feel of hotel bar areas to a more homely, comforting space. A fire seemed like a way to create this, but with more than 100,000 visitors walking through the hotel doors every year, health and safety was as paramount as creating a visually striking centrepiece that the guests would be drawn to.

The Dimplex Opti-myst was a great option for Hyatt as it gave them the look and feel they wanted but without the health and safety concerns that come with a real fire. The Opti-myst employs unique patented technology, creating the world’s most realistic electric flame and smoke effect. The technology is extremely easy to maintain and offers all the effects a fire would but without the heat. This offered the Hyatt Regency Birmingham the ideal solution for a year-round centrepiece that stays in keeping with the times.

Moving forward

Sustainability will continue to influence the hospitality industry. The government’s CGS commits to reducing our carbon emissions as a country by at least 80 per cent by 2050 when compared to 1990 levels.

However, the hospitality sector has a unique challenge in comparison to other industries; it needs to make spaces as efficient and ecological as possible while remaining appealing to guests. While there are many ways to accomplish this, flame technology adds ambience and warmth to spaces and contributes positively to the bigger sustainability picture.

By Jonathan Smith, product marketing manager flame technology, electrical goods firm Glen Dimplex Heating and Ventilation

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