It’s 2021 and we see the world from a new perspective. No wonder the pandemic has led us into reconsidering our actions and compelled us to minimize the harm that we are doing to the environment.
The travel and tourism industry has been one of the biggest contributors to the depletion of energy resources, and with increasing globalization, the need to travel – be it for business, leisure or bleisure (as they say it), has been growing at full capacity. In such a situation, sustainability is the only anchor that can help our ecosystem flourish and revive our natural landscape.
Sustainability or social responsibility is increasingly becoming a matter of grave concern, not only to the environmentalists, but also the public and private sectors. Co-existence is the need of the hour. We can no longer afford to live in denial and must take measurable steps to bring back the harmony with nature.
Aviation and airports
Airports and hotels are the backbone of the hospitality industry. Let us first understand the two key systems that are the foundation of their complex infrastructure:
- Building management and building information systems (BMS/BIS), and
- Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA)
SCADA is an industrial computer-based control system employed to gather and analyze real-time data in order to track, monitor, and control industrial equipment in different types of industries. The SCADA system – now in its fourth generation – enables you to integrate with cloud and provides use of complex data modeling and algorithms. It brought in the system an open architecture that allowed the use of third-party peripherals and unlocked even greater functionality over the previous generation.
Integrated solutions and BMS
The integration of BMS – a computer-based control system that monitors and manages a building’s mechanical and electrical equipment, as well as industrial internet of things (IIoT), has the potential to change the industrial future. Large utility players are adopting BMS, but the current set of equipment still have a physical touchpoint. Next-gen IIoT-enabled equipment are already helping build cost-effective, data-rich, and connected buildings. They promise huge scope for empowering management to take informed decisions and reduce overall carbon footprints.
Energy consumption at airports
Airports are high-energy consumers. This is due to the large buildings (both passenger terminals and non-passengers areas) equipped with heating and air-conditioning systems, the high-power demand for lighting and electric equipment, and the energy requirements from the many facilities located within the airport precinct. Traditionally airport operations fall in two main areas — land-side and air-side.
While land-side is focused on passenger satisfaction and services, air-side services are meant for a smooth flying, boarding, and off-boarding experience of the passengers. For running a 24/7 operations that involves handling passengers and critical shipments, technology acts like a backbone needed to fulfil this critical and mandatory requirement.
All these activities require heavy energy consumption; their major key resources being electricity and fuel, such as, diesel, natural gas, and propane. Air-side energy consumers are basically airfield lighting, radio navigation systems and critical building areas such as control towers or hangars.
The largest energy consumers are land-side because of their functions and facilities such as lighting, flight information, data systems, and communication technologies. Building characteristics, building services, climate and comfort (thermal and air quality) are some of the other parameters that determine terminal building energy consumption.
Hospitality industry trends overview
In 2018, Greenview, a leading company that supports transportation organizations with their corporate responsibility and sustainability platforms, released a report. It had multiple categories such as, energy management, waste management, water conservation, health and wellness, back of house, communications, staff involvement, community involvement, and climate action and certification.
According to that report, energy management has four major sections:
Energy tracking that demonstrates a 1.1% increase from 2017 and an 8.2% increase from 2016 in energy usage.
Established practices that demonstrate that 74.4% of the global hospitality industry does benchmarking on energy consumption among their peers. This practice has steadily increased since 2016 (64.9%) and 2017 (68.2%).
Emerging practices that include:
- Latest technology adoption
- Building sustainable transportation
- Electric vehicle charging
- High efficiency boilers and chillers
- Retro-commissioning of HVAC systems
Innovative practices refer to on-site renewable energy. 21.4% of hotels have on-site renewable energy, out of which 9.9% indicated investment in heat pumps, followed by 5.7% in solar thermal systems, 3.9% in solar PV cells, 0.7% in wind energy, 0.6% in geothermal energy, and 0.4% in hydroelectric energy.
IoT blended with artificial intelligence and machine learning is the way forward for large infrastructural units to manage energy consumption.
Advanced energy management framework
Our proposed energy management framework amalgamates technologies such as IoT, image analytics, radar, and thermal to help the transportation industry improve passenger/goods facilitation and energy consumption.
The need for saving energy has gained significant popularity in the last few years. To bring about a scalable change, we need to begin with sectors having the highest energy consumption – such as the travel and tourism industry.
With improvement and increased adoption of technology, energy facilities, HVAC systems, and lighting, the optimization of airport energy efficiency looks possible. Aviation and hospitality with their infrastructure are crucial. Hence, adoption of technology is not only to reduce the carbon footprint, but also enable huge cost savings, which is the need of the hour. Our conscious efforts and social responsibility will ensure a sustainable future.