As 2022 arrives, it brings with it an ever-growing appreciation for all things eco-friendly amongst the public who in turn expects a similar appreciation from the businesses which they deal with. This has already started to creep in to the hotel industry with the growth of technology in rooms which is designed to reduce the lighting or heating when rooms become unoccupied, as well as ‘smart’ features that allow guests to control their environment quicker and simpler.
Another part of the push to become greener is the growth of electric vehicles. Electric and hybrid vehicles are becoming increasingly popular amongst the public. In 2018, around 2.5% of new cars purchased were electric. That grew to 10% by 2020, and it is estimated to have increased by a further 98% over 2020 in 2021. As the technology improves and the ban on new petrol and diesel cars grows near, the amount of electric cars on the road will only increase. This means electric vehicle charging points are going to become an increasingly valuable amenity to more and more hotel guests in the near future.
As the hybrid/electric takeover continues, the need for guests to charge vehicles after driving what are often long-distances to get to their accommodation will undoubtedly increase. Hotels that cannot accommodate that need may become a less attractive option than those that do who will not doubt take advantage in a competitive market.
Not only that, the Government intend to make it a legal requirement for new build and refurbished non-residential buildings with more than ten on-site parking spaces to have at least one charge point, as well as cable routes, for every five spaces. A car park with 50 spaces, for example, would require 10 electric vehicle charging points.
Hotel owners and developers will undoubtedly need to think carefully about how they will facilitate such a requirement. They may need to consider negotiating shared facilities and agreements with neighbouring premises and perhaps even agreements with landlords about the increased use of electricity. Ongoing trials which are expected to be carried forward are looking at ensuring charging points have ‘smart charging’ capabilities.
For example, vehicles and the charging point could communicate with the energy grid so that the vehicle is charged when energy demands are lower (i.e. through the night). On the flip side, when energy demand is high, the grid would take electricity back from the vehicle to supply the network in return for payment, whilst ensuring the vehicle does not fall below a pre-set charge level determined by the vehicle owner. ’Smart’ options ensure that the energy burden placed on hotels at peak times would not be unmanageable and disruptive.
From a legal standpoint, a number of regulatory questions will no doubt arise when the legislation is published concerning how eco-friendly options will work practically, particularly in relation to electric car provisions. The precise legal obligations which hotel owners and developers will face when constructing or redeveloping their properties remains to be seen, but consumer demand may soon become an equally large incentive to get ahead of the game.
How the hotel and consumer industry will deal with the growing electric vehicle trend is likely to be a big part of projects planned for 2022 and beyond.
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Contributed by Michael Downes, Gordons LLP