Beyond Key Cards: Energy-Efficiency Insights from Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands

by, Matthew Cullinen, RMI

The introduction of key-card-based energy management systems that require guests insert their key card to turn on room electricity was a monumental achievement for the hospitality sector. Hotels that have installed these systems report a massive 20- to 30-percent reduction in guest room electricity consumption, according to the research group Hotel Energy Solutions  . Then why have we not graduated from the simple key card to even more sophisticated energy-saving techniques in hotels around the world?

Buildings consume an estimated 40 percent of total global energy, 25 percent of water, and 40 percent of other resources  , while offering a great opportunity to profitably reduce energy-related CO2 emissions  .
There are two types of hotel owners, and both ought to consider doing efficiency:

  1. companies that intend to own the assets for the long term and either operate the hotels themselves or have long-term leases where they can potentially pass on the retrofit costs;
  2. companies with very short-term horizons and intend to “flip” the asset within three to five years of purchasing. Given that the value of a building is a multiple of the cash flow it produces, every dollar in operating costs that such a building owner can reduce will increase asset value $10–$20, depending on the market and the “cap” rate.

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