Showering smartly – Market acceptance of sustainability-led technology to reduce water, energy, carbon emissions and cost savings in tourism accommodations
Do you ever wonder how much water you use in a shower? Some say a power shower can use as almost as much water as a bath!
At a time where energy efficiency and sustainability have never been more important in hospitality and tourism, this project, the research for which formed part of Dr Pablo Pereira-Doel's PhD, explores whether persuasive communication encourages hotel guests to behave more responsibly during their stay by reducing their shower usage.
Through a partnership with Aguardio ApS, the University of Surrey installed 276 smart water devices in 7 tourism accommodations in Denmark, Spain, UK and US, to develop three randomised covert field experiments to test the effectiveness of the device alongside different persuasive messages.
The 'Aguardio' pilot technology consisted of a sensor -- able to unobtrusively detect shower use and measuring movement, sound, humidity and temperature -- and a timer display that is visible to the guest. Covert experiments took place in different hotel and hostel locations over a twelve-month period in 2019-2020.
IAA funding is now helping to test market acceptance of the product, with the intention that the device creates lasting impact on the hospitality sector. Tests showed that up to 13 litres of water per shower could be saved which translates as 60-90 euros saving per room per year!
Dr Pablo Pereira-Doel is a lecturer in Hospitality Information Technology, an ESRC-SeNSS Research Fellow, and an ESRC-IAA Commercialisation Fellow at the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. After several years in the hospitality/tourism industry in Spain, France, The Gambia, and the UK, he is now a researcher specialising in sustainability-oriented innovations, consumer nudging, big data, and experimental research methods. His consumer and industry testing research contributed to developing a smart water-saving technology to nudge users to take shorter showers. Pablo's interdisciplinary research has involved strong partnerships with several companies in the hospitality industry (e.g. Scandic, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, TUI, Hostelling International, and others) and beyond (e.g. Aguardio ApS, Anglian Water, Northumbrian Water, L'Oréal, and the UN Environment Program). He is currently consulting for L'Oréal on experimental research. His research has been funded through internal scholarships, an ESRC SeNSS Industry Engagement Fund, two ESRC Impact Acceleration Fund, a UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund, and an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship. Pablo is the first researcher in the UK awarded an ESRC postdoctoral fellowship in the hospitality/tourism field.
Based on the findings of previous research experiments, the ESRC IAA funding will allow the team to partner with Aguardio to facilitate business engagement within the hospitality industry, to help validate the technology's ease of installation, reliability, robustness and the benefits to businesses and positive environmental impacts.
Through the new Aguardio device, access to shower behaviour data will be unobtrusively obtained, allowing a better understanding of human behaviour and allowing a better understanding of behavioural interventions around environmental change.
We anticipate environmental annual savings of approximately 110,000 m3 of water, 4,230 MWh and 420 tonnes of CO2 per year. The financial annual savings will be approximately €90 per Aguardio device (per hotel room) and per year, resulting from both water and energy savings.
This will also enhance the role of Surrey as an essential partner in the development and market accessibility of a state-of-the-art technology that can bring financial benefits to businesses and positive environmental impacts.
Accessibility to regular big data derived from real behaviour will also open future research opportunities, allowing the impact from this IAA project to travel full circle.
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