Good news in difficult times

It is a real honour to write my first President’s blog. I never imagined, however, that I would be taking on this role in such challenging times. I am writing this ‘under lockdown’ due to the coronavirus outbreak and it is sad but obviously unavoidable that we have had to postpone the BCIA Awards. We hope that we can arrange a date for later in the year so that all the finalists and winners are able to receive the recognition they deserve. Although this is an uncertain and stressful time for everybody I will endeavour to follow on from Jon Belfield’s excellent work during the past couple of years and do my very best to adopt a ‘business as usual’ approach with the BCIA. After all, we could all do with something to take our minds off ‘other things’ at the moment.

Smart technology has allowed us to transform the buildings in which we live and work into energy efficient, productive and even fun places to be, and I am always on the lookout for news stories that shine a light on the progress being made in the building controls and smart building sectors.

The Sinclair, a hotel which opened late last year in Fort Worth, Texas, is reported to be the world’s first battery-powered hotel with its replacement of a traditional diesel generator and backup power source with a lithium-ion battery pack, the LG ESS. The Sinclair was formerly home to the Sinclair Oil Company in the 1930s but is now being marketed as the city’s first ‘smart’ hotel, with room rates beginning at $300 a night. The guestrooms are equipped with presence sensors, intelligent thermostats, digital showers and touchscreen mirrors. Gym users can even generate power for the building.

Some of the technology installed was not met with praise in all quarters. An article in IoT World Today suggested some of the lighting options on the touchscreen controls, which include “G’morning”, “Social”, “Relax” and “Romantic”, might be confusing for some consumers. At first glance these options may inspire some thoughts along the lines of Jeff Goldblum’s rather foreboding quote in Jurassic Park: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” However, a counter-argument is that perhaps the designers thought that bringing a quirky angle to the lighting control would help to engage with the end users, and the thinking behind the idea could be tweaked in a way that will have real benefits to the hotel’s energy efficiency, which is ultimately the aim of the hotel’s abundance of smart technology. The Architectural Digest has even labelled it “one of the most green-friendly properties in the world”. For example, the hotel uses digital electricity, bringing together DC power and data transmission and unifying networking and power cabling installation.

The hotel’s owner, real estate developer Farukh Aslam, has a carbon free future very much in his sights, with ambitions for a ‘net-zero’ hotel where guests will be informed of their carbon footprint at the end of their stay, and how it compares to the hotel’s average. Ideas like this could certainly open up a new avenue of customer engagement.

So, going back to the lighting options earlier, even if “G’morning” or “Romantic” might not be to the purists’ tastes, if the settings’ efficiency ratings were included alongside the descriptions, consumers might give more consideration to the energy they are using.

I will finish on another positive note – that of the appointment of Graeme Rees as BCIA Vice-President.


Graeme has been a tremendous asset to the Management Committee over the past year and I look forward to working with him in carrying out the BCIA’s key objectives once the world is back on its feet again.

Terry Sharp

BCIA President