That is how much time the average hotel guest spends in the indoor environment of hotels.
And it is the percentage of airborne SARS-CoV-2 transmissions that occur indoors.
That is why we will be introducing the topic of “Building Health” and creating healthy hotel building environments. We will also go into how indoor air quality plays a crucial role in managing a healthy hotel building.
Today, healthy hotels are often equated with wellness hotels. But it goes much further than that. When we talk about healthy hotels, we must consider the notion of “healthy vs. sick buildings”.
“Healthy building refers to an emerging area of interest that supports the physical, psychological, and social health and well-being of people in buildings and the built environment. Buildings can be key promoters of health and well-being, since most people spend most of their time indoors .
Factors like CO2 levels, lighting, air quality, and noise, significantly impact guest sleep and cognitive performance. As the awareness about the impact, the indoor climate can have on people’s health is rising, hotels will have to adapt in the future to be able to provide the reassurance and safety that guests will demand.
In their book “Healthy Buildings”, Joseph G. Allen and a multidisciplinary team of experts from the Healthy Buildings Program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, outline the 9 foundations of a healthy building . Based on those, we summarized the primary areas of consideration for the management and technology adoption of existing hotels to support the fundamentals of healthy hotels. Indoor Air Quality, Ventilation, Thermal Health, Moisture, and Dust and Pests.
Indoor Air Quality
In previous articles, we have talked about different sources of indoor air quality pollutants that could pose a threat to guests' and staff’s health, such as aerosols, VOCs, and relative humidity. Find all of them here. All in all, a simple logic applies to air quality in hotels. The first step to maintaining healthy indoor air quality is to consistently monitor and control the indoor sources. For chemicals like VOC for example, this means avoiding cleaning suppliers with high VOC contents. Real-time sensors are your early warning system, that something might not be right. To learn more about the ARVE Swiss Air Quality System, visit here.
Proper hotel room ventilation not only greatly impacts the guest's comfort, but also has an important effect on the productivity of the hotel staff. Additionally, to routine cleaning and performance inspection, periodical cleaning of your HVAC /AC system is crucial to ensure healthy ventilation levels in a hotel. Knowing when there is a real need to clean your HVAC system can save hotels costs and resources. That is where air quality monitoring can make the difference.
Anyone who has ever worked at a reception in a hotel knows that most complaints from guests in hotel rooms are about feeling too hot or too cold. A hotel that can address this issue pre-emptively, can be far ahead of any competitors and optimize costs simultaneously.
Indoor environment experts refer to this issue as “thermal comfort” or “thermal health”. Many factors impact the thermal comfort of a person in a room such as clothing, person’s activity level, gender, genetics, and others. The building itself, however, controls four key elements: air temperature, relative humidity, radiant temperature, and air movement .
Additionally, to comfort and complaints from guests, temperature levels can also have an important effect on the productivity and cognitive performance of the resident.
Dust and Pests
Dust can contain many contaminants, leading to three different ways of exposure. These include inhalation (resuspending dust in the air), direct skin absorption, and ingestion when eating from our hands after touching food or dirt containing these toxic particles.
Hotels that optimize their cleaning processes, not only concerning bacteria and viruses but also in regard to dust and pesticides, can maximize the well-being of their tenants.
One of the top priorities in building design and operation is humidity and moisture control . A water problem event can result in extremely high costs for the hotel owners. Not only are there costs of replacing walls, floors, and other damaged materials, but there are also the opportunity costs of blocking a hotel room over some time.
Additionally, to water leakages, hotels should also closely monitor their humidity levels. Not only to prevents costs as said above, but also to create the ideal thermal comfort zone for their guests, thus being able to market this for additional revenues. The comfort zone of a hotel room is typically at 40% - 60% relative humidity.
It is important to understand, that these picks of the 9 foundations are focused on hotels that are not planning any structural renovations shortly. For the ones that are, as well as for new-builds, all the 9 foundations should be considered and followed thoroughly to create a truly, “healthy building”.
So, why healthy hotels in the first place?
If we have learned one thing in the past year, then it is that the environment and experience hotels provide to their guest will determine the future of their business. It is not just about giving them a comfortable bed to sleep in or provide good food; it is also about providing an environment that allows people who work there as well as vacationers to thrive. With more people going back to travel every day, hotel owners should focus on creating healthy indoor environments so that all employees and visitors can feel reassured and safe . Creating healthy hotel environments does not only increase the market value of the hotel in the eyes of insurers, guests, and owners, but it also brings intangible benefits, like increased productivity levels of staff and improved loyalty and trust from guests.
At ARVE we want to give everyone access to safe and healthy air and healthy buildings and healthy people are so much correlated, that we cannot separate one from the other.
As the hospitality industry is reopening and rebounding from historically low occupancy rates, ARVE is striving to become part of this new era of “healthy hotels”. By providing hotels with a Swiss Air Quality System, that not only measures the air quality in real-time but also gives actionable insights and response protocols to the hotel, ARVE can play a crucial role in the creation of healthy indoor environments in hotels. That way, hotels, owners, and operators can ensure the health and safety of guests and staff in the short term, while also enhancing the guest experience and gaining transparency and trust as a differentiator.
To learn more about the concept of healthy buildings and how hotels can benefit from it, stay tuned for our next articles.
EPA. 2021. Healthy Buildings, Healthy People - A Vision for the 21st Century. https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/healthy-buildings-healthy-people-vision-21st-centuryAllen G. et all. (2020). Healthy Building. How indoor spaces Drive Performance and Productivity. Harvard.
Lemons T. (2020). Post-Pandemic Healthy Hotels and Resorts. https://www.hospitalitynet.org/file/152008868.pdf