Check into hotel, motel, resort high-tech designs: automation and controls and codes and standards

Hotels, motels, and resorts accommodate thousands of people. Here, engineers explain just how challenging it is to deliver unique design concepts and ensure these structures are in compliance specifically in regards to automation and controls and adhering to codes and standards.


Respondents (left to right): John Barrot, Kevin Christensen, Wesley S. Lawson, Steven Mulcahy, and Christine Sauer


  • John Barrot, PE, LEED AP, Associate Principal, Arup, New York City
  • Kevin Christensen, PE, LEED AP, Vice President/Director of MEP Engineering, Epstein, Chicago
  • Wesley S. Lawson, PE, Senior Associate, Bala Consulting Engineers, King of Prussia, Pa.
  • Steven Mulcahy, Principal Engineer, Southland Engineering, Las Vegas
  • Christine Sauer, PE, Senior Fire Protection Engineer, JENSEN HUGHES, Baltimore

CSE: What are some of the challenges of incorporating the Internet of Things (IoT) into facility design for existing buildings?

Christensen: The biggest challenge is trying to take the what-if scenarios and turn them into reality. The market currently has available numerous sophisticated packaged systems for various hotel operating components, such as room-management systems, lighting controls systems, building automation systems (BAS), security systems, wayfinding, information kiosks, guest services, and many others. Getting these systems to communicate and learn from each other is a very real design challenge. I believe some entrepreneurial company will develop a utility, much like Domo has for business operations, which will sit on top of all these isolated systems and mine the data specifically for the hospitality market. This data will be used to optimize building operations, and most important, enhance the customer experience.

CSE: When working on monitoring and control systems in hotels, motels, and resorts, what factors do you consider?

Christensen: Integration is the big driver when designing monitoring and control systems.

Lawson: Since the occupants have no time to learn to use the system, the user interface in hotel controls systems must be streamlined. But because many occupants now want increased control of the systems, the control and technology cannot be too rudimentary.

Mulcahy: Owners do not want to be chained to a particular vendor. Most educated owners require an open control system with BACnet capabilities.

CSE: What types of system integration and/or interoperability issues have you overcome in such facilities, and how did you do so?

Lawson: Due to the fact that the hotel operator must pay all energy bills, it drives the design to a more inclusive set of controls than what is typical in a standard residential building. The control system normally needs to monitor and control the security, lighting, technology, and HVAC systems within each unit. Since many of these systems are normally stand-alone, it takes a good deal of coordination to make sure all systems are designed so that they can all “speak” to one another. This presents added coordination efforts for not only the design team, but also the construction team.

Southland Engineering’s contract at M Resort in Las Vegas included design-build services for all mechanical, plumbing, and fire protection systems in the low-rise hotel tower and central plant. The initial phase consisted of a 390-room, 12-story hotel tower, approximately 90,000 sq ft of gaming space, 40,000 sq ft of convention space and a full-service spa, a 3-acre pool area, eight restaurants, and an 800,000-sq-ft parking garage. Courtesy: Southland EngineeringCSE: How has the convergence of automation and controls affected the design of hotels, motels, and resorts?

Christensen: I do not believe that the convergence of automation and controls has really affected the tangible “physical” components of hospitality design. Automation and controls systems are behind-the-scenes components, which take up very little physical space, but are really at the heart of the building’s operations. Over the years, automation and controls have been primarily used to control building systems to save energy (i.e., operational costs) and provide functionality to spaces as necessary. Where you will see these technologies affecting hotel design is when they are used by hotels to automatically learn and remember guests’ long- and short-term habits and integrate their preferences and use of the hotel at a personal level, no matter if they are staying at a hotel in Chicago or one in Miami. This could be as simple as adjusting the room temperature for a guest based upon their previous stays.

<< First < Previous Page 1 Page 2 Next > Last >>

Product of the Year
Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
40 Under Forty: Get Recognized
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
MEP Giants Program
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
October 2018
Approaches to building engineering, 2018 Commissioning Giants, integrated project delivery, improving construction efficiency, an IPD primer, collaborative projects, NFPA 13 sprinkler systems.
September 2018
Power boiler control, Product of the Year, power generation,and integration and interoperability
August 2018
MEP Giants, lighting designs, circuit protection, ventilation systems, and more
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
Data Center Design
Data centers, data closets, edge and cloud computing, co-location facilities, and similar topics are among the fastest-changing in the industry.
click me