Opinion by Zubin Songadwala, area manager south, ITC Hotels and general manager, ITC Grand Chola, Chennai 

Covid-19 has forced people to stay indoors. Hence, it is imperative to develop a resilient infrastructure that offers the much-required safety; and also aligns with the goals of an eco-conscious environment.

Even in the Indian hospitality industry, sustainability and an environment-friendly atmosphere are more relevant than ever. In fact, the message is now clearer that a green hotel building can help its inhabitants cope better with public health emergencies.

A crucial step in this ‘go green’ journey is to earn a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. LEED is a voluntary sustainability and green rating programme under the aegis of USGBC (US Green Building Council).

ITC Grand Chola in Chennai with its Platinum LEED certification is poised to assure its guests of a protective and safe environment in the current pandemic.

Green as a potent weapon

The Green Building envelope is designed in such a way that it acts as an active medical coverall suit with an enabling invisible protective layer against infectious disease spread.

Here are a few criteria that one must take into account while fostering sustainable architecture:

Effective ventilation

Various scientific research studies have highlighted that fresh air has natural disinfectant and rich oxidant properties to create defensive barriers against Covid-19 and other pathogens.

Air recirculation increases the chances of the virus getting trapped in the air vents of air conditioning systems.

Therefore, ventilating a building with outdoor air is vital to dilute airborne contaminants and decrease disease transmission rates. We have well-ventilated systems without air recirculation, combined with a well-designed wind environment for dissipation of viruses and harmful gases.

Enhanced indoor air quality

A Green Building itself should also “isolate” the virus as much as possible to reduce the risk of infection.

Green hotel buildings do this by controlling the collusion of air and pollutants by monitoring the concentration of indoor particulate matter with state-of-the-art fibrous filtration technology.

By maintaining air humidity between 40 per cent to 70 per cent temperature between 24 to 25-degree celsius and CO2 levels less than 1,000 ppm, we activate the virus killing properties of air.

Negative pressure rooms/areas

The safest option for quarantining viruses in the air is by enhancing the negative pressure feature of guestrooms. The rooms should operate like vacuum cleaners, ensuring that no pathogens can escape.

Water management system quality monitoring 

Disinfect drinking water and wastewater with super-safe oxidative technology and maintaining effective water seals to reduce the risk of transmission through drainage pipes is vital.

Boost health with native plants and eco-materials

Green Buildings leverage the benefits of native plants to create a healthy environment. Use environment-friendly materials to reduce the concentration of indoor air pollutants such as ammonia, formaldehyde, benzene to boost the health of inhabitants.

Integrating natural daylight with indoor circadian lighting

Hotel lighting should be designed in such a way that it allows maximum daylight harvesting. The daylight electromagnetic spectrum consists of UV light photons which effectively inactivates the virus and other pathogens.

To sum up, these sustainable and health initiatives inspire guests to stay, dine and savour their experiences in luxury, without the guilt.