Fostering a Green Advocacy in Hospitality-A A +A
Monday, September 30, 2013
IN THESE contemporary times, every aspect of human activity poses a significant impact on the environment and businesses can no longer encourage growth without a solid commitment to preserve the very limited resources we have left. In the hospitality and tourism industry, sustainability is rising as a mandatory and critical component of organizational and business strategy; one that directly influences every decision and every aspect of daily operations.
Embracing a green advocacy in your corporate strategy towards achieving sustainable development influences the policies in the hotel’s architecture, financial, operational, human resources, and sales, marketing and events departments. Properties that are effectively integrating eco-friendly / environmental programs and practices into their operations are effective ways to maintain a focus on careful stewardship of the hotel’s resources, as well as attention on the people who use and work in the hotel.
The environmental initiative goes beyond such well-known ideas as reusing guest linens, recycling waste materials, and changing to compact fluorescent lamps. The strategy also includes community and stakeholder involvement by purchasing locally, supporting community charities, and encouraging volunteerism in our employees to as well as participating in global award and certification programs.
In addition, leaders in the hotel industry are discovering that by investing time, energy and resources into improving green credentials, there are great promotional opportunities for their stakeholders, especially their guests.
Operating towards sustainability provides hotels the competitive edge by appealing to the growing share of environmental- conscious guests and visitors seeking greener travel products and services. Working towards a green advocacy is remains a challenge to properties since all these must be accomplished while maintaining a profitable operation.
As this year’s Asean Green Hotel Awardee, please allow me to share with you some of the programs and practices that we have adopted at Baguio Country Club towards a green advocacy: 1. Creation of an environmental committee The Club created in 2008 an Environmental Management Protection and Awareness Committee (EMPAC), an amalgam structure where a “corporate green team” composed of management and staff from all departments organized to help implement and support strategic sustainability initiatives. They also act a cross-functional umbrella group to screen ideas that are suggested by green teams, identify resources to support new initiatives and help to link green team activities with corporate sustainability.
As part of our commitment to environmental practices, this committee has been tasked to develop and implement a green plan for energy, water and solid waste use and other initiatives. This “green” team is responsible for ensuring that all the environmental practices in which the Club is participating in are being performed timely and correctly.
The team is usually comprised of representatives from Food and Beverage, Rooms, Engineering and Maintenance, Grounds and members of the management and staff.
Effective environmental performance is measured by monitoring the electric, gas, water, and waste usage information on a monthly and annual basis. The Club’s environmental efforts are visibly communicated to the guests, staff, shareholders, suppliers, and to the public. Here are some of the programs, practices that have been adopted and are being implemented in the following areas: Water Conservation
• Guest bathrooms were renovated to encourage water conservation.
Upgrades included low-flow toilets, low-flow showerheads—all without impact on a guest’s experience.
We also implement water conservation by letting our guests know that housekeeping will change towels and sheets upon request unless guests specifies differently, thus conserving gallons of water and energy that would normally go into daily laundering.
• Drinking Water being served upon request
• Sewage Treatment Plant that serves 100% of golf course water irrigation requirements
• Utilization of 3 lagoons to catch rain water for irrigation purposes ENERGY
• Tracking utility bills can help properties monitor the effectiveness of their energy conservation initiatives. By installing energy-efficient technologies such as appliances, lighting and heating/cooling systems, hotels can produce cost savings on their monthly utilities bills.
• Use energy-efficient light bulbs, such as compact florescent lights (CFL).
• Install energy efficient equipment; use electrical equipment with energy saving features, such as Energy Star.
• Use renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal power when possible.
• Install programmable thermostat.
• Perform regular maintenance on HVAC equipment.
• Evaluate insulation in ceilings and as insulation, as needed.
• Install energy efficient, double-pane windows or use natural light from the sun to reduce energy consumption throughout the day.
• Add window film to windows to reduce energy loss and solar heat emissions through windows.
• Install ceiling fans to promote air circulation and reduce the need for air conditioning.
• Create reminder cards for guests and staff to turn off lights when leaving a room.
• Clean light fixtures and diffusers regularly for optimal light output.
• Use only natural lighting during daytime hours.
• Replace incandescent bulbs with energy efficient light bulbs, such as compact florescent lights (CFL).
• Use dimmer controls in meeting rooms.
• Improve exit sign energy efficiency. Use light-emitting diode (LED) exit signs. Recycling and Reuse • Recycling receptacles clearly marked for aluminum, glass, plastic, mixed paper, cardboard, newspaper, and toner cartridges.
• Receptacles are located in the following areas: office/administrative area, lobby/registration, and guest rooms and the kitchen.
• Do not deliver newspapers to each occupied room unless requested. Have the newspapers located in the lobby and available to guests.
• Make two-sided printing and copying standard practice in your business.
• Keep a stack of previously used paper near printers; use it for drafts, scratch paper or internal memos.
• Select products shipped with less packaging and/or easily recyclable packaging.
• Switch to bulk-dispensed amenities. This helps to eliminate hundreds of pounds of plastic containers and packaging daily from individual shower bottles and soap.
• Recycle used amenity bottles and containers. At BCC, we use them for the Christmas Village decors.
• Offer optional linen and towel reuse programs to multiple night guests.
• Recycle and/or compost food and landscape waste; set up green waste and composting service with local garbage company.
• Donate non-perishable foods to shelters and other charitable organizations. Water Efficiency Around the globe, water tables are falling, underground aquifers are being depleted, lakes are shrinking and wetlands are drying up. Water conservation is necessary in all areas of the world. It is estimated that up to 50% of the water that families used could be saved by implementing simple conservation methods. The savings in energy and sewage treatment costs would all add up.
• Install low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators. Flow rates shall not exceed 2.2 gpm for faucets and aerators and 2.5 gpm for low-flow showerheads.
• Post signs in restrooms, restaurants, and kitchen areas encouraging water conservation.
• Implement an optional linen and towel reuse program for guests.
• Regularly check for leaks and repairs.
• Bathroom upgrades. Include plans for low-flow toilets, low-flow showerheads,—all without impact on a guest’s experience.
• Implement water conservation by letting our guests know that housekeeping will change towels and sheets upon request unless guests specifies differently, thus conserving gallons of water and energy that would normally go into daily laundering.
Waste Management Programs (reduce, reuse and recycle) The hotel industry can reduce the amount of waste produced by implementing and following a waste management system that is modelled around the concepts of reduce, reuse and recycle (Greenhotelier, 2004).
Approximately 54 percent of a hotel's solid waste can either be recycled or reused (Alexander 2002). A study by Bohdanowicz (2005) identified that "a large proportion (50-60 percent) of the waste materials in an accommodation facility can be recycled or reused." Forty six percent of a hotel's solid waste is food waste (Alexander, 2002). Since all food waste can be composted, hotels are increasingly recognizing that composting is a better alternative to dumping food waste, as composted waste can be used as organic fertilizers (Alexander 2002).
• Use of chemical dispensers to avoid spillage
• Use of linens with high thread count for longer wear
• Eliminate use of plastic trashliners for rooms to reduce plastic usage
• Maximise use of electronic mail for corporate correspondence or whenever possible
• Promote the use of eco bags / paper bags and degradable boxes as food packaging instead of plastic
• Discourage the use of plastic bags for employees availing of cafeteria food and groceries REUSE PROGRAMS
• Use of reusable drinking glasses and coffee cups in the guest rooms instead of paper cups
• Use of condemned linens as cleaning rugs
• Reuse of old upholstery to replace worn out seat covers
• Use of re-washable vacuum filters
• Use of refillable computer ink
• Re use of the back side of paper correspondences / memos
• Re-use of envelops and folders
• Scratch pads out of used paper RECYCLING PROGRAMS
• Recyclables (pet bottles, tin cans, cartons and the like) are sold
• Unused portions of bathroom soaps are used to clean rubber mats
• Quarterly rotation of mattresses for longer wear
• Use of pet bottles, keycards, golf balls into Christmas decors OTHER GREEN PROGRAMS
• Becoming and active partner in the City’s re-greening, cleaning and beautification programs
• Adhere to the policy of replacing one dead tree with ten via tree planting
• “Adopt a Tree” program for Club members
• Propagation of organic vegetables and herbs for in-house use, including herbal plants, orchids and flowers
• Conversion of idle, vacant lot into the Green Zone and Infinity Garden showcasing several species of plants, orchids, fruit and vegetable gardens, fruit bearing trees and development of flora and fauna inside the property
• Floral arrangements come from the Club’s gardens and are used for the guestrooms, outlets and function rooms and events
• Planting 1,500 trees twice a year by employees inside Club premises • Dead pine trees are lumbered and used for construction projects while scraps are used as “talacsan” for the fireplace
• Implementation of the flower theme for every hole at the golf course • Composting of all golf course, garden, floral organic wastes for use in garden and landscape areas
• Conversion from commercial fertilizer into organic using compost tee extract on all greens, tee boxes and fairways
• Engage suppliers that have an environmental policy, and whose products and services offer the best environmental specification or the least harmful environmental option.
• Disposal free food and beverage service using reusable products such as china and linen napkins, focusing on eco-tours of the hotel and surrounding areas, and locally sourced, organic cuisine.
• Purchasing locally all items and services, will also reduce the impact on the environment and benefit the community. Hotels can purchase and use biodegradable cleaning products, and purchase certified organic produce and products. Promoting the local economy actively support initiatives for community development in Baguio.
We are in an ideal position to be able to consult with the local community and identify their needs and concerns and then work with them to enable them to benefit from tourism. There are many means to do this such as through education, health, sanitation, employment, supporting local charities, purchasing from local suppliers, working with communities and offering new opportunities for local small entrepreneurs.
Employee Engagement Employee engagement through educational opportunities, site visits, competitions, newsletters, and other means, encourages staff to become involved in a hotel's environmental program. Guest, Customer and Employee Green Training and Education Tourists are often unaware of the impacts they have while they are on holiday and so it is important to help them understand how they can minimize this. There are many ways to do this for example by providing information on the website, public areas of the hotel, and in guest rooms.
As an industry, let us foster the development of green hospitality and tourism and promote its benefits to its guests, management, employees and other stakeholders Often, the largest hurdle to an environmental initiative’s adaptation is attitude change: convincing the guests, staff and the employees to embrace a green advocacy is a herculean challenge but with indomitable will and commitment, it can be done.
Please allow me to congratulate BCC's Environmental Protection Management Awareness Committee (EMPAC) for working together since 2008 towards the Club's Green Advocacies. Winning this year's ASEAN Green Hotel Award is proof that when we work together for the environment, we will never go wrong.
“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.” ~Mahatma Gandhi
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on October 01, 2013.