The travel and tourism industry has been hit hard by COVID-19. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the sector contributed 10.4 per cent to global GDP in 2019 but decreased to 5.5 per cent in 2020 due to mobility restrictions.
Now, as the hospitality sector slowly recovers, hoteliers are implementing measures to ensure their guests and staff remain safe and healthy.
The boutique hotel — owned by Sunwins Enterprise Ltd. — is part of the International Trade Centre, a mixed-use complex developed by Sunwins near the Vancouver International Airport. The complex consists of retail stores, restaurants and two office towers.
The use of smart glass — an innovative building material made from electrochromic glass, which can change its properties when an electric current is applied — is expected to reduce lighting and HVAC energy consumption by up to 20 per cent, which, in turn, reduces carbon emissions.
View Smart Windows is View’s personal brand of smart glass. The glare-free hotel windows provide views of the North Shore mountains, Fraser River and Vancouver Island, intended to enhance guests’ moods, health and overall sense of wellbeing.
“With the Versante Hotel, we set out to raise the bar for the hospitality industry as a whole,” said David Currell, general manager for the Versante Hotel in a release. “View Smart Windows contribute to a truly differentiated experience where guests can not only soak in spectacular views and enjoy world-class amenities, but also feel and perform at their best.”
The studies behind the use of smart glass
The windows are installed in each of the hotel’s 100 suites and operate using artificial intelligence to automatically adjust in response to the sun to increase natural light. This feature eliminates the need for blinds and optimizes thermal comfort.
Every View installation includes a cloud-connected smart building platform which improves indoor cellular coverage and building security.
Access to natural light from windows has proven to provide health and wellness benefits for building occupants.
Dr. Alan Hedge, professor emeritus of the department of design and environmental analysis at Cornell University, conducted a study entitled, “Daylight & The Workplace Study: How does natural light in the workplace improve employee physical health?” Dr. Hedge’s expertise lies in the impact of design and workplace ergonomics — including office lighting conditions — on the health, comfort and productivity of workers.
The study found that people who work next to windows sleep an average of 37 minutes more per night and experience half as many headaches compared to people who work next to standard windows with blinds. These results can be attributed to the fact that smart glass reduces drowsiness and eye strain — which can cause headaches — by more than 50 per cent.
The Evolv study — conducted by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and SUNY Upstate Medical University — sought to establish the value of daylight and views on people’s health and productivity.
In this controlled study of two offices, 77 per cent of participants who spent a week in the office with windows as opposed to the office with traditional blinds were less likely to report feeling depressed; 48 per cent were less likely to report eye strain.
Participants also scored 42 per cent higher on cognitive assessments in the office with windows, while decreasing in the office with blinds. These results are equivalent to a 14 per cent increase in productivity.
The tinted smart glass also reduces solar radiation and glare. By eliminating solar radiation, smart glass keeps occupants comfortable regardless of the temperature outside.
“View’s mission is to transform buildings to enhance occupant experiences and improve human health,” said Guthrie Cox, president, Canada, at View in a release. “We are thrilled to bring the game-changing benefits of View Smart Windows to guests staying at the Versante Hotel.”
Other CRE sectors increasing wellness measures
The hotel sector is not the only commercial real estate sector in Canada striving to improve its health and safety protocols; retail and office buildings are also implementing measures in response to the pandemic to improve the wellness of building occupants.
In response to the pandemic, many property owners have taken measures, such as improving ventilation, to increase the health and safety of their occupants.
As SustainableBiz previously reported, several companies have even received certifications for their efforts, including BentallGreenOak (BGO), which received Fitwel Viral Response Certification for 50 of its office and retail assets in Canada.
SustainableBiz also reported that the Oxford Properties Group office portfolio is now one of the largest in the world to achieve the WELL Health-Safety Rating for 47 of its properties across North America, Australia and Europe, including Berlin’s Sony Center, which became Germany’s first office building to achieve the rating.
About View Inc.
Founded in Silicon Valley, View was built on the understanding that natural light is required to live a healthy and productive life.
The company is helping to transform the real estate industry by improving window performance and results, which in turn help generate additional revenue for building owners.
View is installed in over 75 million square feet of buildings, including offices, hospitals, airports, educational facilities, hotels and multi-family residences.
The 14-story Versante Hotel opened in July 2021 and is Richmond, B.C.’s only independent luxury boutique hotel.
Sunwins was founded in 2002 and is a Vancouver-based Canadian real estate and lifestyle brand developer focusing on residential, commercial and hospitality projects.