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MOISTURE MANAGEMENT
Energy efficient moisture management strategies for the hotel industry.
by Scott Lenger

Despite double-digit profit growth since 2004, hotel owners and operators know that competition remains high and they must continue to find ways to increase profitability without taking away from guest comfort and satisfaction.

Indoor Air Quality and Its Impact on Guest Comfort and Hotel Profitability
According to JD Power and Associates, the most important hotel guest satisfaction factor is room comfort. Indoor air quality (IAQ), including humidity, temperature, drafts, odors, moisture and even noise, has a significant impact on room comfort. IAQ can influence a guest’s decision to return to a particular hotel – or even an entire chain, having an immediate and profound impact on hotel profitability.

IAQ, also has a structural and physical impact on hotel profitability and operation. Excessive moisture and humidity can cause damaging contaminant growth, which may destroy internal structures and significantly increase long-term maintenance and repair costs. Peeling paint, sagging wallboards and damaged wallpaper cost hotel managers thousands of dollars per year – and impact guest comfort.

Achieving and maintaining the correct IAQ requires effective moisture, pressure and ventilation control strategies.

Hotel maintenance managers are advised to work with a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) expert to find solutions that balance guest and employee comfort, maintain the building structure and meet other hotel operating goals such as saving energy and reducing building lifecycle costs. Even limited-service hotels with packaged HVAC systems can achieve a greater degree of comfort and energy savings by implementing a moisture management plan. 

Effective Moisture Control Saves Money
Humidity and moisture management strategies can also save hoteliers money through lower energy consumption, resulting in lower operating costs.

Working with an HVAC consultant, hoteliers are advised to conduct a facility audit to assess ventilation, heating, cooling and moisture related building properties. HVAC industry research from the American Society of Heating Ventilating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has found that humidity problems are more prevalent in buildings where HVAC systems are sized and installed by non-technical personnel. Audits often find over-sized air conditioning systems, which cool the space before meeting humidity needs. This contributes to moisture build-up and wasted energy.

Finally, preventive maintenance and service arrangements help ensure that building systems operate as efficiently as they were designed. Regularly scheduled service renews and extends the life of equipment by replacing worn components, renewing compressors and offering the latest product improvements for the rest of the unit. By participating in preventive maintenance programs, like Trane’s R’newal, customers can schedule their maintenance and extend the life of their equipment by servicing their equipment before problems occur.

Tips for hotel owners and operators:

1. Audit the property to establish a baseline and detect any moisture problems.

2. Evaluate the hotel’s moisture barrier and, if necessary, install moisture barriers to prevent infiltration of unconditioned air.

3. Select an effective HVAC system with advanced controls that can dehumidify the space to less than 60 percent relative humidity while managing energy consumption.

4. Install the right sized air conditioner.  Oversized air conditioners, especially those without humidity controls, can contribute to moisture management problems because the space will reach the desired temperature before sufficiently lowering the humidity.

5. Use specialty exhaust and ventilation systems in hotel kitchens to remove excess humidity, bring in fresh, filtered air and reduce odors.

6. Manage moisture in hotel pool areas with proper ventilation, tight humidity control and effective sealing off of the pool area from other parts of the hotel.   

7. Housekeeping staff should monitor air conditioner use in unoccupied rooms, keep windows closed in guest rooms during periods of high humidity and notify management at the first sign of moisture damage.

8. Maintenance personnel should regularly check and clean air conditioning filters and coils.

9. Schedule preventive maintenance programs to extend equipment life while assuring guest comfort and lowering operating costs.
ALB

Scott Lenger is the director of Lodging and Entertainment markets for Trane and has been involved in commercial property and construction markets for Trane and American Standard for 20 years. He is a member of the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA), Asian American Hotel Owners Association and founding member of AH&LA’s Good Earthkeeping Alliance. For more information about Trane’s R'newal program, contact Larry Wash of Trane Commercial Systems at lwash@americanstandard.com