Excerpt from High-Rise Hotel Technology: Modern MEP Systems Improve Guest Experience

Originally published by High Rise Facilities Magazine, June 2015

Craig Watts, PE, LEED AP

Principal/Vice President and Director of Corporate Market Development


More than Just a Pretty Interface

Millennials are impacting everything in hotels – right down to the MEP systems. “In the next 10 to 15 years, more than half of the people staying in high-rise hotels will be Millennials,” says Craig Watts, principal/vice president and director of corporate market development for MKK Consulting Engineers. They’re savvier when it comes to technology, and they want to be able to control things themselves – including the space they’re staying in – through their phones.

To make sure the controls are used properly, the interface needs to have graphics that are large and easy to understand. “If they’re small and complex, and people can’t read them, this individual control will actually cause more harm than good,” says Straus, “with lots of complaints and unnecessary maintenance calls.” Your maintenance team may spend a large amount of time simply trying to describe the controls to guests if they aren’t self-explanatory.

One of Watts’ recent hotel MEP projects involved a hospitality learning center in Denver (a hotel operated by students who want to learn the ins and outs of hotel management). His team installed a system that allowed all guestrooms to be controlled from the front desk. Instead of relying on maids to remember to reset each room, they can all be centrally controlled. When a guest checks in, the front desk employees turn on the fan coil, turn up the lights, and set whatever mood they’d like in the room. If the guest is checking out, employees can move the room into “unoccupied mode,” which turns off heating and cooling, lighting, electronics, etc.

An MEP trend that began in Europe is starting to move into the United States and impact hotel MEP systems as well, says Watts. “Some high-rise hotels now require us to install a master kill switch. With the push of one button inside the room, you can kill all of the electrical that doesn’t need to be on.” This prevents guests from having to manually turn off the lights, turn down cooling, etc. before they leave.

Watts has discovered, however, that two electrical systems may be necessary to make kill switches a success. “Sometimes guests may be leaving the room for a while, but they want some power left on to charge their iPads or their laptops,” he explains. In these cases, color-coded outlets can help indicate which will be left on even if a kill switch is pushed.

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