Bask in Solar Energy and Safer Indoor Air

Ponderosa Golf & Country Club Johor Bahru walks through the importance of ionising and smarter energy consumption

204
Ponderosa’s robot waiter in April 2021

As the economy reopens with restrictions of movement, it is noticeable that the tourism economy is reviving slowly and the hospitality industry is getting busier.

In the midst of this hustle and bustle, Ponderosa Golf & Country Club Johor Bahru (Ponderosa)’s General Manager, Tan Kai Yang had to say something about the extra safety measures that they have undertaken to protect guests and employees of the resort.

Could you briefly tell us the IAQ requirement for meeting rooms in hotels, and explain what exactly an ioniser does?

Bask in Solar Energy and Safer Indoor Air
Ponderosa Golf & Country Club Johor Bahru General Manager, Tan Kai Yang

IAQ basically stands for Indoor Air Quality. I won’t say it’s a requirement yet and the authority has not been able to regulate a law on IAQ. It is more about the guideline and is common knowledge among the hoteliers. As for the ioniser, there is a difference between this and an air purifier.

Based on the standard health practices by the Ministry of Health (MOH), the operators took it up a notch by themselves to implement extra safety measures on their premises.

What is the difference between ionisers for dust and the ones to filter viruses?

We basically want the indoor air to be clean and safe especially during this time of the pandemic. There are two ways to do this generally, the common one is the air purifier where you can see them being sold everywhere and they are known as the passive method. Why they are called passive is the way it works; the device in the room will suck the air in, filter and release clean air.

Another one that is gaining popularity in the market now is called the active method – part of what the device would do is sterilising, ionising and etc. It does not suck air but releases active ions that can react with germs/viruses. It does not kill it but deactivates/weakens them.

With ioniser saturating a room before being occupied, the active ions would help weaken any viruses or germs that people emit as they talk, eat and so on.

As an operator in the hospitality industry, we want something effective and this active method seems more suitable for us as we have employees going about in the daily and hosting flocks of people.

How important is it for hotels to place a proper ioniser?

Definitely, the number one priority is for health and safety, and secondly cost-effective. For example, you could optimise a staff from having to sanitise every vacant room every time at interval times which are time consuming. With an ioniser, it is already there, doing its job.

Not only the hospitality industry, but every service provider should prioritise IAQ.

We have to also think of it from a marketing perspective as well. People want to hear about operators’ efforts in managing their health and safety and that they are making the correct choices for patrons with better air quality.

It seems that there are still a lot of hotels that are yet to place proper ionisers that would filter viruses out. Why is this happening? Is it due to the cost or lack of awareness?

There are probably two reasons. Firstly, it is not regulated by lawmakers yet. Secondly, awareness throughout Malaysia is still on the low side. We limit ourselves to the normal SOPs like wearing our masks, sanitising and keeping a good social distance. For us at Ponderosa, keeping our environment safe for our employees and guests is a part of our concern and it is actually a good point to ponder as well.

Employees are our main priority even before customers. We should think about the people who are working for us that helps maintain the place throughout the pandemic, and this ioniser measure would protect them first. As long as the employees are confident that employers are taking care of them, other things would follow suit.

The ioniser may not be the specific solution but is considered safe for a work environment. It is important to create a safe environment for our employees to work.

Do ionisers use more electricity?

No, it doesn’t.

Would solar panelling help alleviate the cost of electricity for establishments?

Yes, definitely. The solar panel would definitely contribute to part of the power consumption that we have.

The solar panels, placed on the roof would generate a certain amount of power for our daily consumption. Instead of paying the normal tariff electric supply from TNB, we could save (expenditure) from there.

The lesser TNB generates energy from burning coal which contributes to our carbon footprint, the more we are helping the environment indirectly. We are not the main industry to contribute but it would help ultimately if most of the resorts and hotels explore this method. I’m sure we would have less carbon emission in the long run.

Bask in Solar Energy and Safer Indoor Air
Solar-powered street lights at Ponderosa

How would installing solar panels help the hotels and resorts?

It definitely would help save cost and at the same time save the environment. I would say, instead of (the hospitality industry) to be moving backwards, this is definitely one step forward. So why not join in the new revolution.

Is it possible to install solar panels on hotels and resorts that are decades old?

It’s definitely possible. However, there is a concern to installing them as solar panels are not light and Ponderosa is 28 years old, running with a lot of old systems. We have to be very careful in handling the panels to generate a lot of power and one of the key things is to be aware of how it would affect the water-tightness in the roof.

I think the step forward to enter the new era is to install solar panels because we have a golf course and we are proud to say that we are the only golf course that offers night golfing in Johor. So we are incorporating solar panels to help light up the course as well as around the clubhouse.

Bask in Solar Energy and Safer Indoor Air
Ioniser in Ponderosa’s changing rooms

Ponderosa Resort currently houses two different ionisers; fixed ones for changing rooms and bathrooms while the other portable ones are used in different function rooms. Solar panels are placed outdoor for nightly golfing while the solar panels on the roof are in progress.