Save Energy, Save Money

Save Energy, Save Money
July 16, 2012 Arton Kabashi

Everyone wants to go green, but how clear is the way forward? Green Globe, the international certification scheme, intends to light your way to increased occupancy and reduced costs. Oh and it can help save the planet too.

Going green might be a useful phrase to pepper marketing tools and social media with, but how much has your hotel been doing to actually become sustainable? Green Globe, a worldwide certification for the hospitality industry reckons that 75 per cent of travelers are skeptical of operators’ green claims and 80 per cent would rather book into a sustainable compliant property.

Which means if haven’t got a sustainable plan in place, you need one.

Green Globe’s representative in the Middle East, Avireal, are seeing a change towards embracing a greener future, although the region lags some way behind Europe.

“Independent hotels, regional chains and owning companies are all showing increased interest,” says Sandrine Le Biavant, Division Manager – Consulting, Farnek Avireal. “With the ever increasing DEWA tariff, the governmental pressure towards a more sustainable country, and the public image of a high CO2 emission per capita, we feel the industry is on the move to change their approach to be more conscious about the environment and the potential savings it could bring with it.

Avireal are finding more and more managers wanting to implement sustainable policies to attract ecoconscious corporate bookings and individual travelers, and the UAE as a whole is seeing ore support from within local groups, says Le Biavant.

“There are also a number of sustainability groups in the region, such as CSR Arabia, who are heavily involved with sustainability, the Emirates Environmental Group, UN Global Compact and the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Group. In 2012 alone these groups had over 200 new companies join as members, all of which are looking to improve their sustainability efforts within their respective organizations.”

And the green traveler and tourism sector is growing.

“We are moving from the eco-warrior tourists to the eco-value travelers who do not make a statement about their choice but for whom it is an obvious expectation.

Corporate clients and tour operators incorporate into their RFPs what green initiatives or certifications the hotel provides. A recent study by the European Institute for the Meetings Industry discovered that 38 per cent of companies have a sustainability plan which includes a strict supply chain process across the globe.”

But doing more than ‘going green’ can be a grey area. Operators who are serious about sustainability have to have a long term plan.

Green Globe lays out a plan which includes 337 compliance indicators which are applied to 41 criteria. A hotel has to pass 51 per cent of these to become a partner. Once qualified a certification is valid for one year the hotel has to improve its energy saving by three per cent for it to be renewed. Avireal work as the Middle East trainers and guides to help prospective hotels pass inspection.

“Anyone can say that their hotel is sustainable and that they use energy efficient light bulbs but trust me that is only the tip of the iceberg,“ explains Le Biavant.” Our first step is a Sustainability Plan, which our auditors need to view so they can see the hotel has a vision and a strategy for achieving it, which will be turned into processed integrated into the SOPs. The simplest things can help, planning aids sustainability because once it’s embedded in the SOPs, it becomes part of the DNA of the hotel or chain.” “In terms of technology, what we see is hotel is installing aerators and reducing the water flow per minute in shower heads, changing LED lights, adding sensors in key areas, adding electricity or water meters, using solar panels and integrating a procurement team to source green compliant suppliers. I was amazed to hear that one engineering team in Dubai developed a home-made thermal envelope solution to reduce the air-conditioning consumption,“ says Le Biavant.

Remember that having a sustainability plan, is about saving. Saving water, saving energy, saving money. So ROI shouldn’t be forgotten when talking about environmental policies.

Avireal reckon their partner hotels recoup their ROI between 18-24 months, with 20 per cent annual energy aving on specific items.

Moevenpick for example saved 8.2 per cent on their water usage in 2011 which equates to 52 Olympic sized swimming pools. This work with Moevenpick has just landed Avireal, Green FM Company of the Year by FM Middle East magazine. “After the initial investment, sustainability starts to pay back straightaway, whether it is solar panels on the roof, or energy saving light bulbs,” explains Le Biavant. “Also you gain a competitive edge and can attract environmentally conscious travelers, a major trend today and, most importantly it is our duty to save energy and natural resources for the next generation.”

Green Globe Case Study – Moevenpick Hotels, Middle East

Martin Molloy, VP of Technical Services at Moevenpick talks us through the effects of Green Globe on his hotels in the MENA region.

How much energy and water have you saved across the group after following Green Globe’s plans?

We have saved in 12 months approximately 11,765 tons of Co2 emissions, and 129,346 m3 of potable fresh water, whilst our occupancies rose by 8.3 per cent over the same period. This is equivalent to the utility usage of a 200 bedroom hotel for a one and a half year period. The waste savings every week of the year equate to the volume of one Olympic sized swimming pool and the energy equivalent of five round-trip flights from Dubai to London.

How much investment have you put into making you hotel sustainable?

We have not overly invested; each introduced a system to ensure the reduction of our carbon foot print was calculated with an attractive return of investment. Moreover, processes were introduced to ensure alignment with international best practices as set out in the Green Globe guidelines.

What have been the most successful policies you have implemented?

Our resort in Jordan at the Dead Sea achieved during 2011 the highest Green Globe ranking out of all Global Green Globe’s certified property partners – a huge achievement for our resort and our company.

How long has it taken to bring all your hotels into line?

All Middle East hotels are now Green Globe certified and this milestone was achieved in 2011. By year end 2013, our aim is inspiring to Green Globe certify all the 72 Moevenpick properties worldwide.

What are the benefits for Moevenpick as a group?

It is important as a company and as individuals that we all contribute to reducing the planet we live on carbon foot print emissions. Our sustainability contributions and commitments within the various regions in which we operate, include the local communities and business partners. We enjoy seeing that our presence and the contributions benefit those we work with and those communities which are our neighbours.

How do you promote this to consumers?

We promote it through our social media tools, advertising, public relations and our website

How do you know your guests are aware of all these policies?

When guests visit our website will find our sustainability section, describing our companies’ vision commitments and contributions towards sustainability. In addition, we have material in the rooms informing guests about our programmes.

How have you got your staff involved? How have you motivated them?

All our hotels have energy committees made up of the Moevenpick ‘energy champions’, who meet regularly to brain storm new ideas and to study and review savings and system improvements. All our hotels have staff notice boards where the engineering department posts daily the hotel’s performance vs the same period the previous year.

What’s the best thing for a hotel financially in taking permanent steps to insure sustainability?

We have witnessed very good financial returns on investment e.g. through LED bulbs which operate at around 80 per cent less power consumption vs. incandescent bulbs and that they operate at near cold condition which helps to reduce the air condition’s consumption. Likewise tap water savers contribute greatly to water reductions. Both with near zero inconvenience.

(Hospitality Business Middle East, Issue 03, July 2012, p. 28 ff)