Green hotels in Asia to promote sustainability

Rising concerns over the deteriorating condition of environment has led most Asian countries to implement green methods. The growth of green technology, especially in the construction sector, is considered vital for improving the environmental condition. By adopting eco-friendly construction methodologies, real estate developers can help reduce energy and water consumption in hotels.

Why green hotels?

With most hotels looking for new ways of shouldering their social responsibilities, the adoption rate of green technology in the hospitality industry has risen in Asia Pacific (APAC) region. Green hotels help in lowering the rate of waste production, pollution and environmental degradation by using non-renewable resources judiciously. High costs of implementation of eco-friendly measures can sometimes be seen as a deterrent for green hotels. However, it must be noted that the high energy, water and electricity consumption rates of conventional infrastructure account for the bulk of natural resource consumption across the world.[1] Moreover, hotel owners realise that energy efficient buildings will be rented or sold at higher rates than conventional infrastructures.[2] Therefore, it can be justified that implementing measures to make buildings eco-friendly can help reduce the burden on the environment in the long run while benefiting the owner.

Crucial factors

Green hotels emphasise on factors like reducing, recycling and reusing solid waste; lowering usage of harmful chemicals; saving energy and water, and improving the quality of air inside the hotel.[3] In 2010, a survey conducted by Global Intelligence Alliance (GIA) showed that cement and steel companies as well as manufacturers of lighting, elevators and furniture believed that green material and technology would be among the fastest growing areas in the construction industry till 2012. The survey aimed to give useful insight into the construction and property development and concluded that power conservation, usage of non-toxic or recycled material and reduction in wastage of water were among the most important factors with respect to green construction. Energy-saving lighting systems, solar power designs, power-efficient heating and cooling systems, quality insulation, low flow toilets and air-cooled equipment were among the key drivers of growth of green construction according to the survey.[4]

Green construction material

Retrofitted as well as new eco-friendly buildings make use of material that helps in conserving the environment. Both types of buildings use cellulose, foil, mineral wool and polyester for thermal insulation, along with cool roofs to regulate the temperature of the facility. In Australia and New Zealand, the cost of thermal insulation material was approximately $440 million in 2011, which is expected to rise to $520 million by 2015.[2] With cooling roofs, real estate developers can reduce the need of air conditioning in buildings, thereby reducing emission rates and electricity consumption levels.[5]

Cooling through Rammed Earth bricks is also an option for green construction of buildings. The unique property of such eco-friendly bricks is that these keep the structure cool during summers and warm during winters. Moreover, building a facility using Rammed Earth bricks accounts for lower emission levels, in comparison to conventional bricks.

Green insulation, which is basically made of old junk, fibreglass, newspaper and recycled material, is a feasible option for developing eco-friendly buildings.[6] Biodegradable material like fibreglass insulation and lime mixture as well as hemp that is like concrete are also useful for making environment friendly infrastructure.

Storm water management is another green technique that can be used for developing buildings that support sustainability. In urban areas, this water conservation system promotes greenery and brings down the heat island effect. Using this technique, sewer overflow can also be regulated and polluted storm water can be purified when it is absorbed in soil.[7]

Geothermal heating is a temperature management technique that is as effective during summers as it is during winters. This type of heating makes use of pipes that are placed underground, in areas where the temperature remains close to 15.5° Celsius. An antifreeze or water mixture passes through the pipe in order to tap the thermal energy, which is later directed to a heat pump that can keep the structure warm or cool, depending on the weather conditions.[8] On the other hand, electrochromic glass or smart glass can keep the heating, ventilation and air conditioning costs under check, by empowering users to control the amount of sunlight entering a building.[9]

Solar panels and energy efficient electric appliances are also extensively used across the globe. However, the greatest feat of green construction yet is a Zero Energy Home, which produces requisite energy through renewable means. Though a Zero Energy Home can be quite expensive, it can prove to be the most important cog in the process of making construction greener.[10]

Mega green projects in Asia

Companies operating in the hospitality sector of Asia Pacific, such as Carlson and Marriot, are leading from the front. Carlson, which owns brands like Radisson, Country Inns & Suites by Carlson, Park Inn, Park Plaza and Regent, has set up EarthCheck Program to ensure that its Asian properties work towards keeping their carbon emissions to a minimum.[3]

The prominent green hotels in Asia are The Orchid Hotel, India; Banyan Tree Bangkok, Thailand; Sukau Rainforest Lodge, Sabah, Malaysia; and Sheraton Incheon Hotel, South Korea. Fairmont Singapore and La Residence d’Angkor Hotel, Cambodia are also among the best eco-friendly hotels of the region.[11] There are as many as 41 green hotels in China itself, while Thailand has the 8-room Old Bangkok Inn that rely on natural energy and locally produced goods.[12]

Do the guests think green is good?

The response from guests in hotels has improved in recent times. Around 20 per cent of the occupants in Sheraton Towers in Singapore use the ‘Care for the Environment’ cards, which communicate to the house keepers to only tidy the bed and not change bedsheets. This way, the hotel has been able to cut down on resources used to wash room linen and thereby, saving around $2000 each month. The Sheraton property, along with nine other Singaporean hotels, has been certified as a green establishment by ASEAN Tourism Standards for Green Hotels.[13]















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