The green team

Environmental issues are a top priority for the newest hotel the hit the Sheikh Zayed Road strip in Dubai, The Monarch. Facilities Management Middle East speaks to director of engineering, Ben Bahadori.

ANALYSIS, Facilities Management

Environmental issues are a top priority for the newest hotel the hit the Sheikh Zayed Road strip in Dubai, The Monarch. Facilities Management Middle East speaks to director of engineering, Ben Bahadori.

Last year, facilities management company Farnek Avireal, revealed that five star hotels in Dubai consume 225% more energy than their European counterparts.

In a region where supply is only just keeping up with demand, it's a worrying statistic that raises concerns within the hospitality industry and questions why hotels are using so much energy.

One of my biggest challenges is finding a company that will recycle glass and aluminium - I don't want it to be dumped.

Ben Bahadori is the director of engineering for The Monarch Dubai hotel, the newest addition to the Sheikh Zayed Road skyline.

Although he thinks the information published last year is true, he argues the reason behind the ignorance towards energy consumption is down to knowledge and education.

"I think the research that was published last year was true. But it's not about people doing something wrong, it's about what they know and don't know. The UAE didn't know it would grow so quickly," he says.

Bahadori, who has been in the hotel business for around 20 years with five of these years in Dubai, says the industry is now starting to think about the environment and realise that helping it can also help a hotel's bottom line.

"People are doing something about it now, they are using technology and thinking about energy and water saving equipment.

By using a building management system (BMS), hotels are able to automate and regulate consumption to ensure costs and usage are kept to a minimum.

"We use technology to help us control usage and consumption and also monitor these areas so we can see how we're using and consuming," explains Bahadori.

The Monarch Dubai uses a BMS called Invensys from Schneider Electric. ETA installed all the cabling and wiring. The system is linked to many areas within the hotel, including meeting rooms and guest rooms.

"Through the BMS we control the guest's room and can monitor what is happening before, during and after the guest's stay. Because we know the time and date a guest is arriving, we can ensure the room is cooled 30 minutes before they arrive so it's cool enough," he adds.

Once checked in, guests are given temporary control of the room until they check out. Control is then returned to the hotel so the temperature can be stabalised to its optimum 23 degrees.

Other areas Invensys controls in the hotel include the lobby lights. During the day, the hotel relies on natural daylight until the lights are automatically switched on at 18:00. Motion sensors are installed throughout and lights permanently switched on are on dimmer mode.

While Bahadori's efforts to make The Monarch sustainable are applaudable, he, along with all other hotels, face the challenge of educating the guests.

"It depends on the individual guests, we can commit ourselves as a hotel and business to environmentally friendly operations, but we cannot control the guests behaviour.

The little control Monarch does have while guests are occupying the rooms lies with water consumption. The hotel has installed tap irrigators to reduce the amount of water that flows through the pipes.

"Without them, running the taps for one minute might waste two litres of water. With them, it is reduced to 750ml. This is done by reducing water pressure in the tap through the introduction of bubbles. These disguise the reduction and the guest doesn't feel the difference," Bahadori explains.

Green Team

While the region's hospitality sector has started to become more eco-conscious, many hotels have introduced ‘green teams' to implement environmentally friendly initiatives and ultimately, increase the hotel's bottom line.

The industry's engineers have been and still are, heavily involved in the green drive and the most recent addition to the green colony comes from The Monarch Dubai.

"We are currently in the process of sourcing our green team. It's going to include engineering, F&B and stewarding, the three areas that create the most waste," says Bahadori.

The idea behind the green team is to drive environmental initiatives and communicate with the different departments to generate ideas
and feedback.

One of the first and most prominent programmes Bahadori wants in place is a full recycling strategy.

As with many hotels, recycling is high on the agenda but in a region where the concept is behind its time, any sector wanting to recycle has to go through the painful and often hopeless task of sourcing somewhere to send its waste.

"One of my biggest challenges at the moment is finding a company that will recycle glass and aluminium. There are companies that will take it, but it gets dumped somewhere and I don't want that," he stresses.

"There is lots of waste here and hotels don't know what to do with it.

At a recent recycling conference in Dubai, there was a strong and solid argument for recycling in the UAE, especially as the region is the highest producer of waste per capita.

Conference speakers and delegates all stressed the importance of education and awareness, something Bahadori aggress with.

"Recycling is not happening here, it's an education process. It very much depends where you have come from. If you have recycled before, you want to carry on doing it, but we have to teach the people that haven't. We just need the facility to be able to do it.

Skills scarcity

While technology and innovative products can help hotels with their environmental responsibilities, people are also key to the equation and Bahadori says the industry is struggling with a skills shortage.

"It is difficult to find qualified engineers now. At the moment, the biggest task in my department is ensuring I have well-trained staff and also dealing with the contractors to ensure they are on time as scheduled," he concludes.

The Monarch Dubai is five star hotel located on the famous Sheikh Zayed Road strip. The mixed-use development comprises a hotel, serviced residential apartments and commercial office space.

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