Hotel of the Future: Using Smart Technology to Support, Measure Well-being and Sustainability in Hotels

Presented by: Stephanie Chahan, Judy Theodorson

Purpose This research challenges the hotel standard to elevate itself into a human-centered, sustainable design that uses Smart City technology. This work analyzes the WELL Building Standard paired with the Living Building Challenge to apply to hotels. Smart City technology is laid within these strategies to promote efficiency, effectiveness, and to harness real-time data for research and development (Townsend, 2013). The WELL Building Standard is a new metric that focuses on human health and well-being in the context of the built environment. Well-being driven design is an emergent interior design topic that is rooted in evidence-based design. The need for this study is essential at this time because of the recent publishing of the WELL Building Standard in October 2014. Some questions include: What are the challenges of implementing these standards in a transient hospitality setting? How can technology further enable these standards? What is the missing gap between well-being and sustainability in the context of hotels? Literature Well-being driven design is cited as a necessity by many references. Kaplan (1992) is most notable for stating that restorative environments are a necessity for humans. Evans (1998) builds upon Kaplan’s work, adding that not only is the world today stressful but that a lack of mindful design can be a contributing factor to stress levels. Evans (2003) adds that the built environment has direct and indirect effects on mental health, though there are challenges in determining clear causes due to numerous factors involved in mental health. Though there are many references on well-being driven design, most are found in the context of healthcare design. There is a major gap in existing literature of well-being driven design in the context of hospitality. Method Data collection strategies for this research consists of site visits, interviews with hotel facility employees, and case studies of hotels that excel in sustainability, technology, or well-being. Nine hotels from around the world are evaluated for their innovation in design. Interviews with facility employees explore motives and overall reception by hotel guests. Each hotel is measured by the Living Building Challenge and the WELL Building Standard to gauge placement on a Hotel of the Future spectrum. Outcomes This research resulted in a new framework for a Hotel of the Future that encompasses well-being, sustainability, and the Smart City concept. A design project applies this new framework to a hotel, catering primarily to business travelers. This topic area is relevant as end-users are becoming cognizant of their own well-being and environmental impact. As the WELL Building Standard, the Living Building Challenge, and the concept of Smart Cities are gaining traction on a national and international scale, this research brings the three elements into one framework. Further exploration may test the applicability of this framework to meet the needs of other commercial environments.


  • Evans, G. W. (2003). The built environment and mental health. Journal of Urban Health, 80(4), 536-555.
  • Evans, G., & McCoy, J. (1998). When Buildings Don’t Work: The Role Of Architecture In Human Health. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 85-94.
  • Kaplan, S. (1992). The restorative environment: nature and human experience. In Role of Horticulture in Human Well-being and Social Development: A National Symposium. Timber Press, Arlington, Virginia (pp. 134-142).
  • Townsend, A. M. (2013) Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia. 1st edn. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company.