Green update: Hotel chains step up earth-friendly programmes

28 Jul 2010

Every bit helps to renew our challenged environment and stretched natural resources. Here's a sampling of what some leading hotel organisations have done and continue to do in the race to save the planet.

Accor (includes Sofitel, Pullman, Novotel, MGallery, Grand Mercure and Ibis among other brands)


Accor plant nursery

The programmes: Accor encourages guests to recycle their towels when staying in any of its properties throughout the world. Some 1,000 Accor hotels have participated in a re-forestation programme that is producing over a million trees. During Earth Guest Day in 2008, Accor employees in 60 countries cleaned up beaches and rivers, built water pumps and shared knowledge with their communities about appreciating clean water and a healthy environment.

Banyan Tree


Banyan Tree Phuket, Laguna Resort  

The programmes: With the mission statement “embracing the environment, empowering people”, Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts has long been operating with the core values of maintaining sustainable development and a socially responsible business. Its rehabiliation of a former abandoned tin mine in Phuket and transformation into a world-class sanctuary is the stuff of legend. To do this, Banyan Tree fertilised the topsoil, allowing the replanting of native plants including 7,000 casuarinas and Asian palms. Acid-filled craters were cleansed and turned into lagoons and lakes, stocked with varieties of fish tiger prawns, shrimps and crab. Then followed the construction of a sophisticated recycling system in nearby communities to handle refuse and sewage disposal and water treatment eliminating the threat of further pollution to the surrounding land and sea.

In 2008 on Earth Day, Banyan Tree launched the Better World campaign committed to protecting the fragile coral reefs surrounding Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru, the virgin rainforest surrounding Banyan Tree Bintan, the wetlands surrounding Banyan Tree Seychelles and forests surrounding Banyan Tree Ringha. The company takes part whenever it can to reforest and raise people’s awareness about the threats to the planet's resources.

Carlson Hotels


Radisson Plaza Hotel Sydney  

The programmes: Carlson Hotels is focusing on specific issues such as reducing and reusing solid waste, reducing the use of harmful chemicals, conserving energy and water. The organisation has attempted to improve the indoor air quality of its properties.

For example, the 362-room Radisson Plaza Hotel Sydney has introduced Microfibre Cleaning Technology for cleaning rooms, which helps save one million liters of water annually. It also partners with EarthPower, Australia’s first regional waste-to-energy facility, to collect and convert food waste to green energy and nutrient rich-fertilizer. Other efforts include turning off air conditioning in all unoccupied rooms and using energy efficient lighting throughout the hotel.

InterContinental Hotels Group/IHG (includes InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Indigo brands among others)


InterContinental Sanya

The programmes: Responsible business is a core value IHG's (International Hotel Group) world-wide operations, with special emphasis on environment sustainability and helping to foster social and economic development in the communities its properties are located in .

Notable IHG project include installing the largest roof-mounted solar panel array in the Southern Hemisphere at Crowne Plaza Alice Springs in Australia’s Northern Territory and the Deep Ocean Pipe air conditioning system that has reduced power consumption at the InterContinental Resort and Thalasso Spa Bora Bora. The new InterContinental Sanya Resort represents the first of the company's "new wave" of environment-oriented resort templates. It was designed to make use of natural light and natural ventilation, reducing dependence on electricity and air conditioning. roofs have been planted with a combination of native grass, flowers and shrubs to act as an insulating layer and cool the surface and spaces beneath.

Marriott International


JW Mariott Shanghai at Tomorrow Square

The programmes: Besides attempts to conserve water (see news), Marriott is saving energy, installing low-energy light bulbs that saves 85 percent of energy compared with the conventional light bulbs. The Sanya Marriott Resort & Spa and Ritz-Carlton, Sanya have installed solar hot water heating systems on their roofs supplying 650 tonnes of hot water each month. JW Marriott Shanghai at Tomorrow Square and Renaissance SuZhou use exterior air during good weather to cool building temperatures with less energy.

Recycling programmes have been introduced in all Marriott hotels and include recycling paper, cardboard, metals, bottles, cans, batteries and the like. Some hotels are also developing an in-room recycling program to allow guests to take part in the recycling program. Marriott employees have taken part in carbon reduction campaigns, Green Power hikes and reforestation.

Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts

Shangri-la Hotels & Resorts

China World Hotel Beijing conference room

The programmes: Shangri-La's social responsibility effort is dubbed the Caring People Project, which aims to promote education and health in underprivileged communities.

This also includes the Care for Nature Project targeting the conservation and restoration of biodiversity. In a related effort, China World Hotel Beijing recently launched a Carbon-less Meeting Programme.

The initiative is estimated to save 1,095 kilograms of CO2 emission based on a three-day meeting for 30 people. Meeting organisers and participants are presented with carbonless options such as renting of the hotel's hybrid car (airport) transfer service, choosing carbonless sightseeing excursions and going for paperless meetings which encourages the use of laptops, thus doing away with paper handouts. Meeting organisers are also encouraged to opt for reuse of chair covers, towels and bed linen.

In the cool seasons, when temperatures are between 12 to 14 degrees Celsius, the hotel suggests a meeting setup that does not require the use of air conditioning but uses fresh air to cool the function space.

Sarah Spaeth

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