Hotels as Sustainability Trendsetters

Hotels as Sustainability Trendsetters

Rajneesh Malhotra, COO, Chalet Hotels Limited, 0

Rajneesh Malhotra is a creative business strategist with three decades of extensive hospitality experience. He has a track record of elevating organizational performance, turning around under-performing assets, setting-up and managing hotels. In his current role as COO at Chalet Hotels Limited, Rajneesh is responsible for driving the ESG initiatives.

Sustainability needs no introduction and the adoption of sustainable practices by businesses is now a no brainer. So much is being discussed about the environment and general health of the planet in the news, over social media, and in everyday conversations that most are now aware of the risks that the uncontrolled development and operations of businesses pose to our planet. People may not want to be in business with businesses that do not care about the impact of their operations on the planet. Hence, sustainability has now become a necessity for the survival and growth of businesses.

Today's traveler is cognizant of the negative impact tourism can have on the environment and expects hotels to understand their responsibility and conduct their business sustainably. The industry has been quick to respond to these changes in expectations from its customers and is progressively turning ‘green’, however, a lot more needs to be done. Several international and domestic hotel companies have announced sustainability as one of their key focus areas and set internal targets. Some of the substantive areas of sustainability include:

Building Sustainable Infrastructure
Hotels should be designed as green buildings; materials, water, energy,and health are the key elements of a green building. Choosing the right materials, incorporating energy & water efficiency into the building design, and managing the indoor air quality are important aspects that all hotels must adopt. At Chalet Hotels, sustainability is part of our vision statement. It is entrenched in the business philosophy and integrated into the plans, right from the design initiation stage of projects and through their life cycle.

Energy Management

Reducing energy consumption, without compromising the overall guest experience is possible and helps save costs and above all, the environment. Hotels need to adopt technologies that enhance efficiency.Some of the technologies that help improve energy efficiency include installing high-efficiency chillers in HVAC plant rooms, low-approach cooling towers with variable frequency drives, plant room optimizers, inline pumps, and auto-tube cleaners for chiller condenser units, to name a few. Photosensors and timers to manage lights, thermostats, and other such automation effectively help in conserving energy when rooms or other hotel areas are not in use.

I believe energy conservation is a behavior that results in using less energy. For instance, taking the stairs instead of elevators or walking whenever possible instead of using vehicles or switching off lights or appliances when not in use. It is the responsibility of everyone towards the planet and the environment as well to be mindful of utilizing energy. Simple changes in hotel operations can hugely impact the environment, even boost profitability,and encourage people at large to adopt these practices.
Sourcing Electricity from Renewable Resources
Energy generation using renewable resources is gaining momentum, however, most of the world’s electricity is still generated using fossil fuels. We are all aware of the greenhouse gas emissions that accompany many forms of energy generation (using fossil fuels for electricity) and their impact on our planet. Hotels must endeavor to source their electricity from power generators using renewable resources such as solar, wind, hydro, bio-fuels,and geothermal, instead of fossil fuels.

Water Management
A three-pronged approach is needed for effective water management, i.e., minimizing consumption, recycling water,and harvesting water.

Minimizing Consumption
Water conservation is now a priority for the hospitality industry. The industry is seen striving to strike a fine balance between providing luxury and comfort to its guests without impacting the environment negatively. Simple solutions such as installing aerators in all taps, encouraging water-less urinals and short flushing options, as well as drip irrigation systems in lawns and gardens can reduce water consumption in hotels.

It is the responsibility of everyone towards the planet and the environment as well to be mindful of utilizing energy.

Simultaneously, it is necessary to train and educate staff about measures that can be undertaken to preserve water at their end. This could include basic daily activities such as minimizing the usage of water while cleaning rooms and public places within the hotel, laundry, gardening services, water leakages, etc. Additionally, creating awareness of the initiatives undertaken by the hotel to conserve water will also encourage guests to participate and take efforts from their end to reduce the consumption of water.

In recent times, consumers have become more eco-conscious. They prefer staying at hotels which are environment friendly. This indicates the importance for the hospitality sector to understand consumer sentiments and consider sustainable practices in the design and operation of its hotels.

Recycle Water
As per regulation, it is necessary to install Sewage Treatment Plants in hotels(above a certain capacity) to recycle wastewater. The treated water from recycling is then used for horticulture, etc. At Chalet Hotels, we have installed ultra-filtration systems at some of our properties to further improve the water quality, so that it can then be used in flushing systems and cooling towers besides watering the lawns.

Rainwater Harvesting
Rainwater harvesting is probably the cheapest source of natural water. Rainwater can be easily stored and used for all purposes. A traditional and sustainable method, rainwater harvesting could be used in hotels with much higher water consumption for potable and non-potable purposes. Rainwater harvesting systems also serve as a secondary source of water. At Chalet Hotels, all our properties are equipped with rainwater harvesting systems.

The hospitality industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors in India, providing large-scale employment and touching millions of lives. Be it creative culinary delights or stunning interior designs, hotels have long been trendsetters, and it is only logical to believe that the sustainability measures adopted by hotels are sure to resonate with people at large. Hotels can lead the way as trendsetters and influence people in adopting sustainable practices in their day-to-day lives.