Designing Healthy Hotels -

Designing Healthy Hotels Insights into the future role of building services in hotels

Transcript of Designing Healthy Hotels -

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Designing Healthy Hotels

Insights into the future role of building services in hotels

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04 Introduction05 Key Findings09 Hotel Challenges by Type12 New Build Opportunities18 The Retrofit Challenge23 Conclusion

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3 Designing DifferentHealthy Hotels by Design 3

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IntroductionHospitality relies on close attention to the latest trends and opportunities to improve guests’ experiences. These openings give hoteliers the best chance of securing the good reviews essential for both new and repeat business, and also ensures they maintain pace with competitors keen to make a distinction between their service and others. It’s the reason many hotels began to fit TVs in rooms as soon as they became standard in people’s homes and why chains are now keen to offer more sustainable stays in line with today’s more conscious consumer.1

This idea extends to building services. Hotel guests are far more likely to pay closer attention to the ambient temperature or quietness when compared to other non-paying building users, like office workers. Worse still, a direct line can be drawn between their dissatisfaction and lost revenue, not to mention the bad reviews which can inflict long-lasting damage on a business’s bottom line. Some experts claim that a single poor review can result in up to 30 lost reservations.2

Gambling on sub-par or short-sighted design in hospitality has always been a risky strategy but now seems untenable with occupancy rates at their lowest in years. According to accounting firm PwC, just 55% of rooms are expected to be filled in 2021, with those numbers expected to slowly recover in the coming years.3 Given this pressure, now seems an opportune time to analyse how building services can be better specified to deliver hotels that are ‘healthy by design’. This idea informs REHAU’s latest research that looks into opportunities across the new build and retrofit market, the results of which are discussed in this report.


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Key findings:

43% said they would pay up to 15% more for a premium product that had a longer working life, while 13% said they would pay up to 20% more.

65% said leaving a high-quality building for future generations was a high priority.

52% said wellbeing was ‘often’ value-engineered out of a hotel’s original design, while 33% said it ‘always’ happens.

Sustainability, acoustic performance, temperature control and drinking water quality are the top design priorities for those specifying hotels.

59% said the need for acoustic performance in hotels had increased over the last five years.

70% expect demand for district heating systems to increase over the next five years.

94% had experienced copper theft when working on hotels.

86% of respondents said they specified fittings containing lead. However, 90% admitted that risk to human health was a concern when using the material.

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The Survey

520respondents in total

80%designed M&E solutions

20%were architects

25%of respondents worked primarily in the hospitality sector

This report is informed by market research carried out by REHAU in November 2020. The company interviewed:

The results discussed in this report refer only to respondents from the relevant sector.

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Where are hotels being built?Despite disruption the latest figures show a healthy pipeline for new hotel construction, with 718 in development across the UK.

Scotland 82Wales 82England

South East 103

Midlands & East 86

North 165

South & West 94

London Boroughs 106

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What is ‘Healthy by Design’?The built environment now faces a number of challenges. From legislative pressure to reduce carbon emissions to tackling the threat of overheating, building stock must now be equipped to deal with both existing and emerging challenges. For the purposes of this report, ‘healthy by design’ specifically refers to how high-quality building services can help to futureproof performance, raise sustainability and improve the guest experience.

*Data taken from planning permissions April 2021

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I. Hotel Challenges by Type Hotels do not conform to a standardised design. They also occupy existing building stock and new builds in different locations across the country. As such, close attention needs to be paid to the specification of building services to ensure they are aligned with a business’s unique demands.

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Airport Hotels

Often found in close proximity to road and air traffic, which necessitates the use of thick glazing to limit external noise. However, this amplifies the effects of indoor sound from other occupants and building services. Higher levels of soundproofing also mean heavy use of HVAC systems to keep building cool during the summer months.

Chain HotelsSimilar to airport hotels, chains are typically built in towns and cities with high footfall or near motorway services. Many will offer a ‘good night’ guarantee to appeal to commuters, meaning a low level of indoor noise is essential. Chains also have high guest turnover, meaning materials are prone to wear quicker.

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Luxury City HotelsHigh-end hospitality relies on exceptional guest experiences to justify their cost. Much like budget counterparts, they need to minimise noise where possible. However, luxury rooms can be used infrequently, raising the threat of issues like legionella. Some will also occupy older listed buildings, so some building services upgrades will require use of non-invasive materials.

Regional Hotels, Spas and Country HousesSpas and country houses rely heavily on HVAC systems to heat and cool rooms that are less thermally efficient. Bookings can also vary according to different times of the year so water provision needs checking regularly. Again, passage of sound can be an issue, especially in older builds of this type. Similar to some luxury hotels, these buildings are often listed with unique structural features that are unable to be modified.

BoutiquesBoutiques look to offer a unique experience that bridges the gap between economy and luxury stays. Period properties are common in this sector, offering similar challenges found in regional hotels, spas and country houses.

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How much of a priority is leaving a quality building for future generations when you specify materials?

3%Low priority

45%Medium priority

52%High priority

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II. New Build Opportunities

Hoteliers, including both major chains and independents, are now under pressure to fill vacant rooms even though the true economic impact of the pandemic is yet to be determined. Research of the UK market finds that guest numbers will return to ‘normal’ levels no sooner than 2022, with most businesses expecting slow trade well into 2023.4 As a result, competition is expected to fiercen as businesses vie for the bookings that remain.

Recovery will not only rely on promotional offers but also a renewed focus on guests and their needs post-pandemic. As advisory firm Deloitte points out in its future of hospitality report, companies now “have no choice but to reimagine the customer experience for the realities of a ‘new normal’” and must do all they can to provide a space that not only alleviates health-related concerns but also leaves nothing to chance.

This includes the buildings themselves and how their performance provides the foundation for an exceptional stay.5

The volume of new builds planned over the coming years bodes well for meeting this challenge. New hotels offer the best opportunity to develop a building against the latest trends and expectations, long before negative customer experiences or bad reviews are possible. Indeed, good building design and specification of quality materials have been key to the success of ‘good night’ guarantees and other popular promotions that offer guests money back if their stay is below par.

This section discusses the results that mainly relate to the construction of new build hotels, though some may also apply to the retrofit market.

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Do you believe the average lifespan for M&E solutions needs to increase or decrease?

How often do you believe occupant wellbeing gets value-engineered out of a building’s design further down the process?

11%Stay the same




Analysis of respondents’ attitudes gives some insight into the ambition of those specifying and fitting M&E solutions. Given the need for hospitality to now pay close attention to their buildings, it’s encouraging to see that 43% of those working on hotels would consider paying up to 15% more for a premium product that has a longer lifespan and 13% said they would pay up to 20% more. It’s not surprising, then, to find that 65% want to prioritise designing buildings to a high quality for future generations. Just one respondent said it was unimportant to them.

Perhaps most telling was the 65% of respondents who said the average lifespan of M&E solutions needed to increase, with just 23% saying they needed to decrease. This suggests that budgets are often not adequate enough to equip hotels with fittings necessary for today’s competitive market – an idea that’s substantiated when looking at respondents’ views on how often wellbeing is ‘value engineered’ out of a hotel’s original design; 52% said ‘often’ while 33% said ‘always’.

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Thermally Activated Building Structures, or TABS, offer new build hotels a more sustainable means to regulate indoor temperature without having to rely on air-based HVAC systems. TABS uses the large thermal mass of a concrete structure as a buffer for changing loads throughout the day, running hot or cold water through pipes embedded within the slab. This system has several advantages when compared to typical comfort cooling systems, though perhaps the most important are removal of cold draughts and the ability to remove heat continually over 24 hours. This reduces the need to purge heat out of the structure when outside air temperature is the below the internal temperature.

SOLUTION: Temperature Control

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• Low investment and operating costs

• Gentle cooling without draught effects

• Reduced air exchange in combination with ventilation systems

• No ‘sick building syndrome’

• Use of alternative energy sources like ground source heat pumps

• Low flow temperatures

TABSoffer new build hotels a more sustainable means to regulate indoor temperature without having to rely on air-based HVAC systems

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PrioritiesA look at respondents’ priorities gives a better understanding of what issues today’s hoteliers consider most important. Efficiency was cited as the main concern for respondents, followed closely by technical performance and occupant wellbeing. Install time and cost were the lowest priorities. With businesses under increased pressure to decarbonise, it’s hardly surprising to see efficiency score highest, especially when trade bodies like the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance find the industry will need to reduce absolute carbon emissions by 66% before 2030 to meet long-term climate goals.

Arguably, the more useful findings can be seen when looking at what design priorities respondents expect to increase in importance over the next 10 years. Sustainability of materials was again the top choice,

with acoustic performance, temperature control and drinking water quality also scoring high. The latter is likely influenced by the pandemic, given that most hotels’ plumbing will have been underused throughout lockdowns, raising the chances of legionella outbreaks.

At 59%, the majority believed the need for acoustic performance had increased over the last five years. When asked what was driving this, respondents identified privacy requirements, urbanisation and consumer demand. Interestingly, 45% of those who specify fittings for hotels believe the standard level for building acoustics will be between 20-24dB within five years’ time – markedly lower than the target test level of 43-45dB stated in building regulations.

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Sustainability of materials


Temperature Control

Water Provision and E�iciency

Connectivity of Systems

Drinking Water Qulity

Use of Space

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Which design priorities do you expect to see increase most over the next 10 years?

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The need for soundproofed building services is apparent in hospitality, particularly when running water from neighbouring rooms or vibrating pipes can disturb a guest’s stay. With the standard decibel level expected to lower in the coming years, now is an ideal time for M&E contractors to specify acoustic drainage. REHAU’s RAUPIANO Plus offers both noise and fire protection, as well as quicker installation times when compared to traditional drainage systems.

SOLUTION: Acoustic Drainage

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• Working sound levels of just 17db(A)

• Fire protection and resistance

• Cuts installation times by up to 30% when compared to cast-iron pipes

• Space savings of up to 35%11%Stay the same




In the past five years, has the need for acoustic building solutions increased or decreased?

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III. The Retrofit Challenge

Improving existing hotels is more difficult than new build. However, there are still areas where retrofitting can have a significant impact on performance, particularly heating as older buildings are typically less thermally efficient when compared to new builds. Many spa and country house hotels are in remote areas, often not on the gas grid which means they typically use oil or LPG based heating. Low carbon options for existing hotels could be renewable-based district heating systems or individual heat pumps.

As Historic England points out, in older buildings this approach works best when there is a predictable and consistent aggregate demand.8 In this sense, hotels are an ideal candidate as demand can be anticipated based on upcoming bookings and peak periods. Given this opportunity, it’s unsurprising that 70% of specifiers working in hospitality expect demand for district heating systems to increase over the next five years. Hotels in urban areas could connect to nearby heat networks but hotels in rural areas could group together with local houses or commercial buildings to create a communal district heating system.

Respondents were also asked about polymer pipework when installing district heating systems and the issues that impede wider use. Polymer’s inability to withstand current specified temperatures was the most popular reason why other materials were viewed more favourably. That said, a lack of familiarity also scored high, suggesting that old habits are as much responsible for the continued use of steel.

Polymer is still commonly used in rural district heating projects with the benefits of the long coils and installing the pipes in soft-dig areas at a lower cost.

Low carbon district heating networks can work well with heat pumps, whether ground, air or water source. Polymer is ideal for these low carbon networks with the lower flow temperatures involved and the improved reliability from its high corrosion resistance compared to steel. The government has committed to the installation of over 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028 in order to accelerate the move towards a ‘net zero’ economy and upgrading existing commercial buildings such as hotels will be key.9

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Do you ever specify fittings containing lead?

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REHAU’s RAUTHERMEX pre-insulated PE-Xa pipe is an ideal match for heat networks.

REHAU’s RAUTITAN drinking water pipe is an ideal replacement for old hotel plumbing systems. Polymer pipework’s high flexibility makes it easier for installers to retrofit. Having no cavities within the completed EVERLOC joint for water to be trapped is especially important in hotel rooms where plumbing can remain unused for extended periods to reduce the risk of microbial growth. New lead-free and corrosion resistant fitting material also eliminate leeching and far exceed current UK drinking water legislation and now RAUTITAN is available pre-insulated with Class B fire-rated insulation (to EN 13501-1).

SOLUTION: Pre-insulated Pipe

SOLUTION: Hygienic Drinking Water Pipe

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• Excellent thermal insulation with PU foam and a lambda value of 0.0199W/mK

• UNO at 140mm is the largest polymer flexible district heating pipe on the market which can transport up to 2.5MW of heat at 80°C/50°C flow and return temperatures

• Largest DUO pipe on the market (75 DUO)

• RAUTHERMEX Plus available with thicker insulation for up to 20% lower heat losses

• No need to compensate for thermal expansion due to bonded foam structure

Benefits• No O-rings

• Everloc compression sleeve technology has been used over 850,000,000 times worldwide

• Simple visual inspection to check fitting is made correctly

• Quick and simple installation

• Hygienic with a cavity free jointing system

• Lead free

• No fluctuating commodity prices

Water provision is another area where results suggest upgrades can be made. For example, 86% of respondents said they use fittings containing lead. However, the material’s tendency to leech evidently plays on specifiers’ minds as almost 90% admitted that risk to human health was either ‘some concern’ or a ‘major concern’. Moreover, 94% also said copper pipes had been stolen from them at some point. In light of these findings, and with hotels preparing to reopen in a difficult climate, now seems an opportune time to reassess a building’s heating and plumbing network.

How much of a concern is the risk to human health when specifying lead fittings?

11%Not much



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When tasked with installing the soil and waste system for a prestigious new hotel, contractors Emtec required a solution that would provide great acoustic performance and not disturb guests. Furthermore, the materials required to construct the prospective system needed to be readily and consistently available to meet the project’s ambitious 8-month build time.

Part of a regeneration project in Edinburgh’s New Fountainbridge district, the 262-room Moxy Hotel from Marriott International is situated on the former Scottish & Newcastle Fountain Brewery site, alongside offices, cafés, co-working spaces and a restaurant.

For any hotel, the visible furnishings and decoration be of the highest calibre for the guests’ comfort. However, all aspects under the surface must also match these standards and offer best possible performance. To keep quality high and installation time to a minimum, Emtec chose polymer specialist REHAU to provide soil and waste pipework for the project.

Edinburgh hotel gets the silent pipework treatment

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Keep the noise downNoise from a hotel’s building services are expected to be minimal. To achieve this, the rooms were constructed offsite as prefabricated ‘pods’ with extensive soundproofing. These pods would then be installed, coupled at their connection points to the structure and service points.

To avoid any disturbance from water running through the system, the soil and waste solution needed to offer excellent levels of acoustic performance. On top of this, it had to be adaptable enough to connect to the outlet of the prefabricated room unit. Faced with the challenge of finding a solution that could meet these demands, Emtec used REHAU’s acoustic soil and waste system, RAUPIANO.

Ideal for multiple occupancy buildings like hotels, it combines sound-absorbing multi-layer technology, elbow joints with thicker walls, and patented acoustic brackets in a system with 17 dB sound rating, meaning vibrations or system noise do not disturb occupants. Not only did it match up to the building’s acoustic requirements, but also helped tackle challenges posed by the offsite-manufactured rooms.

“RAUPIANO was not only a good choice because of its performance, but also because of how compatible it is with other pipework,” said Andrew Currie, Project Manager at Emtec. “Sometimes with prefabricated units like these there can be lots of adaptations required, which uses more components and takes lots of time. The REHAU solution, by contrast, was able to be installed easily without giving us more work to make it fit.”

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Always availableAnother potential obstacle for many developers and contractors is the supply of materials. If resources are not available throughout the project, ensuing halted work could risk costly delays. With a tight deadline for completion, Emtec needed a ready supply of RAUPIANO pipework throughout.

“After we discussed with Emtec its requirements for the build, we made sure that there was enough RAUPIANO stock that we could earmark for the project,” said Mark Taylor of REHAU. “Not only did we hold the stock for the job at our Manchester warehouse, we also made sure there was enough supply to a local merchant so it was available either the same day or next throughout the project.”

Alongside its stock availability, REHAU’s onsite training and attentive service throughout the project also impressed Emtec, and ensured installation time was minimised and delays avoided.

“The service from Mark and the team was great and we were able to get the team quickly up to speed installing the system,” said Currie. “This, coupled with the ease and speed of installation and good supply of materials meant we were able to install the soil and waste pipework by within 6 months, well in time for the project’s June 2020 completion date.”

Speedy installationWith any development, there is pressure on contractors and developers to complete all works to tight deadlines. On a site with many different trades working in tandem, the quicker the installation is for each contractor, the more likely it is the project will be completed on time. As well as its easy connection to prefabricated units, the contractors were able to quickly install the rest of the system, avoiding any holdups that would let them miss the deadline.

“We had quite a quick turnaround for this project,” added Currie. “RAUPIANO was very quick to install once you are familiar with it, so it helped to get the system in place quickly. Even the bracketing system was simple and fast to install, and because no extra tools were needed to fasten them, it made the entire process even quicker.”

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Aegli Hotel – Volos, Greece: The Aegli hotel in Volos, Greece, is a luxurious hotel with 72 rooms, located at the most privileged location with unique port views at the city centre of Volos.

It is the town’s historic hotel, built at the beginning of the 20th century. Aegli Hotel derived from the union of the two historic hotels in Volos, Aegli & Pallas. In 1977 Pallas Hotel closed down and at the end of the 1990s, the two buildings were united and drastically reconstructed. The hotel was extensively refurbished in 2012 and 2016, in order to cater to modern travellers’ needs.

Since 1996, Aegli Hotel and Pallas hotel have bee operating jointly, offering high standards services. The REHAU products used during the renovation were RAUPIANO and RAUTITAN.

Centreville Hotel & Experiences – Podgorica, Montenegro:Located within the Capital Plaza Complex in Podgorica, Montenegro, CentreVille Hotel and Experiences is made up of around 140 modern rooms and suites. The development also features a restaurant and a bar and is situated around 2 km from the city centre.

The REHAU systems used on this development were the drinking water system RAUTITAN, and the acoustic soil and waste solution RAUPIANO PLUS. For the development of this size, around 4.000 metres of RAUTITAN pipework ranging in dimensions of 20 - 63 mm and roughly 2.000 meters RAUPIANO pipes were used for the project.

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Forecasts suggest a difficult period of trading ahead for the hospitality sector. Low occupancy rates, fierce competition and increasing legislative pressure make the prospect of a quick recovery difficult without proactive steps to improve today’s hotel business model. It will be harder to remain profitable with built assets that are not fit for purpose and those who do gamble risk damaging their reputation. This will only compound the challenges of a post-pandemic market.

Some of the solutions in this report, such as TABS, are ideal for improving both comfort and performance in new build hotels. Others, such as acoustic drainage, may be better suited to high-rise inner city or airport hotels. Either way, it’s clear that polymer is now best placed to raise the standard of building services, particularly in a market that has to balance regulation with guests’ expectations.


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To find out more about REHAU’s ranges, visit

REHAU LtdHill Court, Walford,Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, HR9 5QN