UTSA engineers tapped to improve Marriott’s energy efficiency

UTSA Bing Dong Marriott

UTSA's Bing Dong (middle) with graduate students Gaellen McFadden (left) and Rome Edward (right). Photo by Deborah Silliman Wolfe.

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(Feb. 5, 2015) -- Marriott International, an industry leader in energy conservation efforts, is partnering with The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) to help it reach its current environmental goal of reducing energy and water consumption (on an intensity basis) by 20 percent throughout its approximately 1,200 managed properties by 2020.

Over the last few decades the lodging industry has become increasingly focused on reducing its energy use and environmental impact. Hotels rely on energy to maintain their operations, and investing in new and innovative energy management tools is allowing many hotel companies to make significant reductions in energy and water use, operating costs and utility bills.

Through the new partnership, UTSA will help Marriott improve its hotels’ ability to collect and analyze utility data in real-time and in turn make immediate energy-saving adjustments on-site.

UTSA assistant professor of mechanical engineering Bing Dong has developed a proprietary tool and software to capture, model and analyze real-time occupant behavior and energy consumption data. The tool helps users quickly identify ways to increase energy efficiencies.

Using these findings, Dong and his graduate student team will evaluate Marriott’s current energy systems and processes and recommend a method to capture data from multiple sources into a single database that provides timely and detailed performance feedback through visualization. They will also create a communication strategy to help motivate hotel employees to conserve energy. UTSA professor of architecture Taeg Nishimoto is also involved in the project.

“We are very excited to be working with UTSA and Bing’s team to improve our energy conservation processes at Marriott so that we can accomplish our long term goals for reducing our global energy footprint,” said Robert Bahl, Marriott International’s vice president of engineering and facilities.

“This is a perfect example of how the research taking place at UTSA can have a direct impact on an industry,” said Dong. “It is a winning combination of providing outstanding educational and research opportunities for our students while helping a global company become more financially and environmentally responsible and sustainable.”

Dong is an international leader in energy-related occupant behavior research, energy efficiency and big data analytics for smart buildings. He is currently involved in another multi-institution research project to set an international standard that models and simulates occupant behavior in buildings.

UTSA is on the forefront of sustainability research, creating new knowledge and finding top-tier solutions to real energy-related problems in San Antonio, the nation and beyond. UTSA faculty and students are involved in groundbreaking research in sustainable technologies through partnerships with CPS Energy, San Antonio Water System, Microsoft, Department of Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, private energy companies, nonprofits and other universities.

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