David Giménez Rueda describes how the flexibility of KNX allowed the upgrade of a top hotel’s automation system to produce fully-integrated comfort, luxury and energy efficiency that has paid for itself within its first year.
Hotel Serras Barcelona is a five-star boutique hotel located in the heart of the magnificent Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, Spain. The building overlooks the Mediterranean Sea with splendid views of the luxurious and renovated Port Vell. Many of the city’s main landmarks, including the Cathedral, El Born area, the Picasso Museum, and Las Ramblas, are just a few minutes’ walk from the hotel.
Hotel Serras is located in a historic building where a young Pablo Picasso began his career in 1896, and where he painted some of his early works such as ‘Science and Charity’. The hotel still preserves the building’s original façade. Construction of the hotel took place during 2014 and 2015. At that time, the owners decided to implement a building automation system, both for sustainability and energy efficiency reasons, and to provide the best possible experience for its guests.
KNX was already involved at that stage, with a central KNX server managing lighting and HVAC in all public areas, along with control of some third-party systems, including Bose for audio, LG for air conditioning and ventilation systems (using Modbus gateways), and DALI for lighting in certain sections.
In 2023, the property owners contacted us in order to update the installation. We held several meetings in order to thoroughly understand the system’s current capabilities and the client’s requirements. One of the main limitations of the original design was that the centralised heating and hot water control systems were not integrated and could not be controlled from KNX. The hotel management also wanted to revamp the control interfaces in each of the 28 exclusive rooms and suites in order to meet its quality standards.
The proprietary systems installed in the facility room for centralised heating and hot water control were replaced with KNX-based equipment, thus making it possible to integrate these functions into the existing BMS. This greatly improved the information available to the technical staff: they now have real-time information on energy and water consumption, can control the centralised heating and water temperature depending on demand and other factors, and are automatically notified of any incidents or technical alarms.
Implementation of the lighting control system was also challenging, since the interior designer had put forward a proposal that involved multiple technologies, ranging from simple on/off switching to phase control dimming, 1-10V regulation, and a DALI-based systems. Again, the use of KNX greatly simplified the integration of all of these subsystems.
For user comfort, a 4,3″ Iddero Verso touch panel was installed in each of the 28 rooms and suites, along with a surround-sound system. The Iddero Verso touch panels function as smart thermostats, allowing guests to control the room temperature in an easy, user-friendly way, whilst their minimalist design perfectly matches the modern and elegant aesthetics of the rooms. The touch panels are customised with the hotel’s logo, adding a note of distinctiveness.
The whole project was designed and installed by a team of three people within six months. At the end of the process, another two engineers worked on-site for two weeks in order to fine-tune all systems. This mainly involved modifications to the interface of the BMS, and customisation of the visuals on the Iddero Verso touch panels.
The client is delighted with the solution; the fact that all systems are connected via KNX and integrated into the hotel’s BMS avoids systems duplication and reduces operating costs. Monitoring of real-time consumption and preventative technical alarms, along with intelligent HVAC control, help achieve greater energy efficiency. Finally, thanks to the Iddero Verso touch panels installed in the rooms, guests not only enjoy a much better user experience, but also feel that they are staying in a place that combines luxury and sophistication with state-of-the-art technology.
The hotel considers the project to be fully amortised already, and is now evaluating possible future expansions.
David Giménez Rueda is a civil engineer and systems integrator at C2i control i integració, an engineering firm based in Girona (Spain) specialising in energy efficiency projects, with extensive experience in KNX and other technologies.