Jefferson Suarez, Contracts Manager for Commtech Asia Philippines, explains why hiring commissioning management to test energy consumption and efficiency during the early stages of an integrated resort’s development can mean huge savings and better sustainability down the track.
In a world where climate change and renewable energy sources have emerged as the most critical discussions of the 21st century, the need for new and existing developments to improve sustainability practices has never been clearer. And it’s an issue of particular relevance for modern integrated resort operators given the size, scope and diversity of their offerings.
With investments often pushing well into the billions, any initiatives that eliminate excessive energy use or cut down on resource requirements are likely to translate to seven-figure savings each and every year.
“IR projects are very complex due to the integration of many critical areas such as the casino, hotel floors, plant rooms, security and control rooms and much more,” explains Jefferson Suarez, Contracts Manager for the Philippines office of independent commissioning management consultants Commtech Asia.
“The operating hours of integrated resorts are longer, too, compared with other developments, so energy saving and sustainability is even more important.
“Practicing sustainability in hospitality comes with many benefits. Aside from attracting more customers and responding responsibly to what many consider a moral imperative in light of the current climate crisis, sustainable initiatives provide incentives for hospitality businesses.
“Though sustainable practices can require initial spending, the combined effects of energy efficiency and waste reduction can lead to lower costs in the long run in terms of major plant lifecycle and maintenance expense, which will in turn have a positive impact on ROI.”
Suarez is well schooled on such matters of sustainability. A qualified professional in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) from the US Green Building Council and MCSA-Grade 4 from the UK’s Commissioning Specialists Association (CSA), he is an expert in Sustainability and Green Building Commissioning with 14 years of commissioning management experience including 12 in the Middle East. His 30-plus green building and traditional projects across the region in that time have included Dubai’s Burj Khalifa Tower, Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital and ICD Brookfield Place Tower, Abu Dhabi’s Neighbourhood One and Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Qatar’s National Convention Centre, Bahrain’s Arcapita Bank Headquarters & Mosque and Oman’s Muscat and Salalah International Airport.
“Green building commissioning is coming more to the forefront of construction as the awareness of global climate change is spread to the various corners of the globe,” Suarez explains. However, it remains a field too often overlooked by IR operators when it comes to truly capitalizing on potential cost and energy savings.
“I can only say this based on my own experience, but not all hospitality operators have a good enough understanding of their energy, which is why educating them on the importance of sustainability practices is essential.
“One of our missions, particularly in the Philippines, is to educate clients on the importance and benefits of sustainability, particularly when it comes to commissioning practices.”
Key to an operational building achieving maximum efficiency is making use of commissioning management consultants such as Commtech Asia during the earliest stages of development.
In the case of integrated resorts, this often revolves around energy usage on the MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing) and other miscellaneous systems. In particular, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) typically comprises a huge percentage of a building’s energy consumption, making efficient usage critically important.
“There are many ways to make a building more efficient but we have observed that many building owners overlook the importance of building services efficiency,” Suarez says. “Inevitably this means systems fall into inefficient impacts once the building is operational.
“Ideally, to make energy and building services more efficient, all control settings should be properly programmed as per the design intent and sequence of operation.
“Setting up the controls correctly from the start will give more efficiency to the building as each system will react as per the design intent and provide more comfort to the building’s occupants.
“This approach also provides benefits on the energy saving side as the system runs based on actual demand.
“A practical example is the Variable Air Volume (air conditioning) for each occupied space (such as individual hotel rooms and office space), which should modulate based on the occupant’s demand. This is generally integrated with the main cooling system of the building which ramps up and down through the variable speed drives of each unit. Ensuring this system alone is working efficiently can mean huge cost savings each year.”
To put those savings into perspective, green buildings that have achieved LEED certification have been shown to use 25% less energy and 11% less water than traditional buildings. Green buildings also generate a 7% increase in asset value as a direct result.
And while independent commissioning management can sometimes mean a marginal additional project expense during the construction period, those costs are redeemed many times over during subsequent years of operation.
“Ideally, commissioning should be engaged from the earliest stage of the project,” Suarez says. “We consider this approach vital as it mitigates any points-of-failure by ensuring any problems come to light during this early commissioning stage. This avoids negative impacts that may be more difficult and costly to fix if discovered later on and provides greater confidence to the owner that building services will meet their design intent.
“We see commissioning as a quality-oriented process where we work in conjunction with the owner, designer and construction team to seamlessly progress the advancement of the project and reduce risk for new constructions, refurbishments or fit-out projects. By doing so we ensure that building services systems meet defined objectives and operate and integrate optimally to meet the end users’ requirements and timelines.
“This implies that engaging a commissioning management team like Commtech Asia will achieve a positive impact on the long-term energy savings and sustainability of the building.”