From Sustainable Architecture to Sustaining Comfort Practices: Air conditioning and its alternatives in Asia

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


For many travellers to Asia, TripAdvisor has become a key resource for researching the quality and satisfaction levels of hotels and guesthouses. More recently, the website has begun identifying and tracking the environmental credentials of its hospitality register, encouraging users of the site to consider the issue of sustainability in their choice of accommodation; an initiative that forms part an industry-wide move toward the all-encompassing mantra of “sustainability”. In recent years, the travel and tourism sector has developed a plethora of awards, guidelines, and policies directed at “greening” the industry in recognition of the need to curb energy and resource consumption. For many hotel owners, this has become a feature of market differentiation and helped encourage more people to partake in responsible tourism. Accordingly, as part of listings criteria and on the comments pages, TripAdvisor encourages readers to pay attention-through its GreenLeaders program-to issues such as water usage, laundry, landscaping, lighting, and the degree to which hotels and guesthouses consider the environment in managing their resources and energy consumption (TripAdvisor 2015). In the highly competitive and stratified world of hospitality, balances are constantly struck between luxury, cleanliness, and comfort on the one hand and saving costs and the environment on the other. While TripAdvisor’s growing attention to the environmental implications of travel and tourism has helped encourage hotels and guesthouses shift this balance toward the latter, the question of how they manage their indoor climate has yet to be highlighted as an issue worthy of attention. In fact, the site considers indoor air, or more specifically its cooling and drying through electronic air conditioning, less as an issue of environments consequence and more a marker of quality and comfort. Many establishments highlight air conditioning (from now also AC and air-con) as a key feature of their product offering. As an indicator of reliable, optimum, all-year-round comfort, hotels in the four-and five-star sectors proudly proclaim their rooms as being not partially but “fully” air-conditioned. It is a situation that has led to the rise of tens of thousands of hotel rooms across Asia featuring inoperable windows, with guests having little control over their comfort levels beyond choosing between a narrow pre-set range of temperature settings on the thermostat.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGreen Asia: Ecocultures, Sustainable Lifestyles and Ethical Consumption
EditorsTania Lewis
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (Electronic)9781315722351
ISBN (Print)9781138854086
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameMedia, Culture and Social Change in Asia


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