Hotels in India go green as the savvy traveller becomes more aware and responsible.
There is luxury, there is budget and then there is green. As travellers become more aware of their surroundings and more socially responsible, environment friendly hotels are becoming their preferred choice of accommodation. With most hotels adapting state-of-the-art design and international standards to woo the travellers, becoming environmentally sound is a USP most hotels are working towards to retain the competitive edge.
According to Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), a green building is one which uses less water, optimises energy efficiency, conserves natural resources, generates less waste and provides healthier spaces for occupants, as compared to a conventional building. Hotels are now incorporating these eco-sensitive measures to spread the ‘go green’ message and encourage guests to embrace it as a way of life.
Pioneering the Green Cause is the ITC hotel group that has been recently conferred the distinction of becoming the greenest luxury hotel chain in the world. All the eight luxury hotels of ITC have been accorded the LEED Platinum certification, making it the only luxury hotel chain in the world to have achieved this distinction. A LEED Platinum certification is the highest rating given to any building and requires the establishment to get between 80 and 110 points. Nakul Anand, Executive Director of ITC hotels said the journey for ITC hotels began before ‘Going Green’ was even a trend amongst hotels.
“We have always been at the forefront of ‘responsible luxury’ much before ‘green’ became the buzz word. ITC hotels’ sustainable development journey began over two decades ago permeating from ITC’s triple bottom line philosophy. The hotels division, in the last two decades has made significant progress through its environment initiatives. An ‘eco responsible’ ethos is therefore an inherent part of our system. The Leed® platinum certification of ITC’s luxury hotels is one of the outcomes of the two-decade-old journey that we embarked on in sustainable business practices. Our priority is to ensure that ITC’s hotels business continues to make a meaningful contribution to the overall economic development of the country as an employment multiplier creating sustainable livelihoods, while enriching the tourism landscape of the country.”
Anand believes that environmental friendly hotels can be luxurious as well as sustainable. “The word ‘eco’ often may challenge guests by many do’s & don’ts but responsible luxury incorporates delivery of eco-friendly practices into the product itself,” Anand explained.
He added, “The success of this ethos is manifest in the many accolades garnered on both the ‘luxury’ and ‘sustainability’ aspects by the ITC Gardenia in Bengaluru; where the ‘responsible luxury’ concept was first introduced by ITC hotels. “
The environmental stance of ITC is not a revenue-building model for the hotel. “Sustainable business practices is part of ITC’s Triple Bottom line philosophy – – Profit, Planet & People. This philosophy permeates across our businesses, including hotels. The DNA of our organisation requires us to constantly re-think and re-question our product and processes, so that we continue to meet emerging consumer needs and deliver a new experience to our guests through regular process improvements. What we have accomplished by becoming the ‘greenest luxury hotel chain in the world’ is but one of the milestones that we have set out to achieve for ITC hotels.” Anand said.
Nakul Anand, Executive Director, ITC Hotels:
“‘Luxury’ and ‘sustainability’ were once incongruent concepts until ITC hotels blended the two and pioneered the concept of ‘responsible luxury’; an ethos that integrates world class luxury with ‘green’ practices delivered through ‘eco-embedded’ products, ‘eco easy’ service designs and ‘eco sensitised’ associates.”
The LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™ is a feature-oriented rating system that awards buildings points for satisfying specified green building criteria. The six major environmental categories of review include: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality and Innovation and Design. Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels of LEED green building certification are awarded based on the total number of points earned within each LEED category. LEED can be applied to all building types including new construction, commercial interiors, core & shell developments, existing buildings, homes, neighbourhood developments, schools, retail facilities and healthcare. Incentives for LEED are available at the state and local level and LEED has also been adopted nationwide by federal agencies, state and local governments, and interested private companies.
Our initiatives are based on a conspicuous conservation culture that focuses on:
- Low energy materials
- Sustainable sites
- Water reduction
- Energy optimisation
- Waste management
- Superior indoor air quality
- Increased human comfort
- ITC hotels is the only chain in the world to earn carbon credits under the carbon trading regime of UNFCCC – ITC sonar, kolkata.
- Largest self owned wind farms by any hotel chain in the world for its own consumption – abetting a 25 percent reduction in energy demand and a 50 percent reduction in water consumption over the last 5 years.
- Almost zero solid waste – 99 percent recycled.
- 30000 tonnes of carbon emission offset annually.
- LEED® platinum certification (from USGbc and IGBC) for all ITC luxury hotels making it the ‘first on earth’ to become the ‘greenest luxury hotel chain in the world’
Ecotels, as a concept, is catching up fast in India. The Orchid – An Ecotel Hotel in Mumbai, is Asia’s first certified eco-friendly five-star hotel. Other Ecotels in India include Rodas at Mumbai, Lagoona at Lonavala, Hotel Gautam at Mahabaleshwar, The Uppal’s Orchid at Delhi, Cabbana Orchid at Phagwara, The Fern at Jaipur and The Beach Orchid and Kollam. According to ECOTEL®, an environmental certification specific for hospitality, Ecotels work towards economising the usage of resources on a day-to-day basis compared to most environment sustainability certifications which lay emphasis on the building of hotels and physical structures.
Environment officer Aldrina Fernandes of Orchid Hotel Mumbai said, “The Orchid has taken various steps to maintain the highest standards in environmentally friendly practices while providing the best of services to its guests. The hotel has maintained the Ecotel certification right from its inception in 1997. The Orchid is a five globe Ecotel since it has managed to demonstrate environmental responsibility in all five areas of environmental responsibility: 1) Solid Waste Management, 2) Energy Efficiency, 3) Water Conservation and Preservation, 4) Environmental Commitment and 5) Employee Environmental Education and Community Involvement.”
The hotel staff goes through extensive training given by the environmental department. “During the Environment Department session, various environmental issues are discussed with the new team members. This is done so that team members understand the reason why it is so important to conserve and preserve the environment. Team members are taught of all the various environmental friendly activities of the hotel. They are also told to engage in environment friendly practices in their home and not just while they are on duty,” Fernandes said.
She added, “After six months of working at the hotel, the team members must pass an Environment Test in order to receive their confirmation letters. This test assesses their knowledge of the hotels various environment friendly activities. We also have an internal activity for the staff every month, which is organized by the Green Team of the hotel.”
Steps Taken By Orchid
- The Orchid manages its solid waste by segregating it in all the kitchens of the hotel. Four separate colour coded bins are used for separating the waste into dry, wet, recyclable and non-recyclable.
- The food waste or wet waste is taken to the back of the hotel where a vermiculture area has been set up for converting food waste into organic manure or ‘vermicompost’. This rich and fertile vermicompost is then used for gardening purposes for the hotel. The recyclable waste is given out for recycling.
- The bathrooms have aerators in taps and special flushes, which reduce water consumption by nearly 50 percent as compared to conventional ones. A sewage treatment plant treats the wastewater so that it can be used in areas like gardening and air-conditioning.
- The hotel has an atrium that permits sunlight to enter the hotel thereby reducing the amount of artificial lighting required for the lobby and coffee shop. Triple glazed windows provide increased thermal and acoustic insulation. A renewable source of energy such as solar energy is harnessed through solar panels that are installed on the rooftop of the hotel.
- Swimming pool water is treated using ozone leaving our guests feeling refreshed rather than feeling chlorine in their eyes and on their skin.
- Room amenities for the guest include biodegradable herbal products in the bathroom and stationary made out of environmentally friendly material.
ECOTEL® was developed by HVS in association with the Rocky Mountain Institute, USA with the help of engineering and hospitality experts. Conceptualised in 1994, ECOTEL assists hotels in setting standards in environmental best practices, which in turn helps them cut back on operating costs and increases their overall competitiveness. ECOTEL’s mission is “to enable hotels to achieve a strategic and economic advantage through environment-friendly operations, systems and processes while positively impacting their local communities.” ECOTEL aims to do this through its certification and training workshops, which empower hotel communities to improve their standards without compromising the environment.
Radisoon Blu Resort Temple Bay
Another hotel championing the environmental friendly cause is Radisoon Blu Resort Temple Bay. The resort received a Silver Certification by EarthCheck on parameters of eco sensitiveness, reduction of carbon footprints and awareness to local community. “Following consideration of the importance of environmental and social sustainability and a commitment to be a benefit to the Mamallapuram community, Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay is committed to strive to achieve environmental and social sustainability. We care about the health and welfare of our employees, our guests, our suppliers, our community and our planet. We are committed to providing a safe and healthy work place by conserving the energy and natural resources and also comply with the local legal laws governing environmental issues.”
Shabin Sarvotham, General Manager, Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay:
“Our environment initiatives symbolize our efforts to reduce environmental burden by a way of comprehensive set of environmental policy objectives bench marked annually.”
Steps Taken by Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay
- Waste is segregated into dry waste, such as paper, cardboard, plastics and glass and collected by authorized personal.
- Wet waste such as food and floriculture waste is collected by the local panchayat who converts this waste into electricity for the township.
- Food waste is also given to a local piggery at no cost
- All staff is given regular on-the-job training on waste segregation and management and the hotel organizes seminars on waste management and other sustainability issues to foster greater environmental awareness amongst its staff and suppliers.
- The hotel gives preference to products and packaging that can be recycled or are made from recycled products.
- Electronic sensors installed on all taps and urinals in the public areas to reduce water wastage.
- Low flow taps have been installed in 90 percent of the hotel.
- All the hotel’s toilets have low flush volumes.
- Reducing laundry requirements by giving guests the option to have their linen changed on alternate days.
- The hotel’s wastewater is sent to an onsite single-phase treatment plant where it is treated to a quality suitable for reuse on the hotel’s gardens and landscape.
Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces
Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces, practice sustainable tourism through EARTH (Environment Awareness & Renewal at Taj Hotels), a conscious effort by Taj Hotels to commit to energy conservation and other sustainability strategies. EARTH has received certification from EarthCheck and is currently driven by several initiatives under the Eco Taj Policy, Taj Hotels will map the best practices under EARTH and drive them across all areas of operations and new product development in the group. EarthCheck will provide the EARTH project with independent and comprehensive proof of their environmental commitment through the monitoring and improvement reports EarthCheck will produce for Taj Hotels each year as part of the certification procedure. The hotel and resort group has implemented schemes such as the Gangroti Glacier Clean-Up Expedition, as well as designated Earth rooms, which minimise environmental impact. They also celebrated Earth Hour in March 2011 to promote its policy of sustainable tourism. At the event, Raymond Bickson, MD & CEO, Indian Hotels Company Limited said “Taj is among the oldest Tata Group Company that was established by the group’s founding father – J N Tata. A visionary and philanthropist, he instilled humanitarian values in all our companies that have today come to define how we operate. At Taj, we have a legacy of corporate sustainability and social responsibility and we have been committed towards community and environment. We strongly believe in enhancing the value of human life and supporting the cause of environment regeneration and have incorporated many efforts through our day-to-day operations including initiatives such as EARTH (Environment Awareness and Renewal at Taj Hotels) that allow us an opportunity in collectively participating in preserving our planet.”
The EarthCheck Program was started in 1987 and uses a science-based approach. The programme is designed to help the travel and tourism industry increase efficiencies, maximise guest experience and minimise environmental footprints. EC3 Global has certified 1000 clients in around 60 countries. The certification must incorporate annual measurement of indicators such as energy, emissions, water, waste, community involvement, paper use, cleaning and pesticide use. EarthCheck monitors business operations and delivers a cost effective, independent means to undertake carbon abatement measures.
Le Green Hotels
Founded in 2009, Le Green Hotels and Resorts aim to promote environmentally friendly hotels, resorts and home stays. Their mission is “to bring together hoteliers who are committed to protect their environment and improve the lives of local people by uniting conservation of natural resources, energy and sustainable travel.” Said Matthew Joseph, Director Marketing, Le Green Hotels and Resorts, “We have purchased land in different parts of South India and decided to start five to six green resorts. We are also tying up with other green hotels to manage their projects. Setting up and running a green hotel is very different from running commercial hotels. Since we have the expertise we give other hotels suggestions on how to run an eco-friendly hotel successfully.”
Talking about an environmentally friendly hotel Joseph says that it doesn’t give immediate returns but is beneficial in the long run.
“It doesn’t really work as a revenue model. The first four to five years can be difficult but in the long term it’s beneficial. However eco-friendly concepts are picking up in India, which is great,” said Joseph.
Matthew Joseph, Director Marketing, Le Green Hotels and Resorts:
“These hotels are mostly with foreign tourists as they are more aware. Over here, most people look for cheaper and environmental friendly options, which is not possible. If we reduce our charges we will be compromising on quality and in our environmental friendly environ you can’t do that”