Asia: Hospitality embraces eco-friendly standards

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Asia has been slow to embrace sustainability. But gradually more sectors of the business events industry — from Australia and Singapore, to the Philippines and Hong Kong, are realising that being sustainable is not merely the right thing to do — it’s the smart thing to do.

In South Australia, a massive onsite solar-powered worm farm, composting bins and key partnerships with Foodbank SA and OzHarvest Adelaide — have all led the Adelaide Convention Centre (ACC) to achieve gold certification under the EarthCheck environmental programme. EarthCheck is considered the world’s most credible environmental certification programme for the travel and tourism industry.

The ACC’s worm farm was established in 2008, and in the ensuring seven years, the 300,000 little wigglers ate 14,552 tonnes of kitchen scraps, saving that from landfill. The first bio bin was installed at the Centre in 2006, and the composting system has resulted in 234.6 tonnes of organic waste being recycled. The tie-up with Foodbank SA and OzHarvest Adelaide also ensured that surplus meals from any unexpected drop in event numbers are put to good use.

Use of natural resources, coconut and mangrove forest planting, and the release of baby blue crabs into the sea, are just a few of the environmental initiatives that have led the Conrad Koh Samui to be named ‘Leading Green Resort Hotel of Asia 2014’ at the 7th Asia Hotel Awards at the Asia Hotel Forum 2014.

Conrad Koh Samui’s green initiatives are part of a wide in-house programme of sustainability measures analysed by the hotel group’s proprietary LightStay measurement tool to make sure they stay on track.

The Hilton Worldwide LightStay programme involves 200 sustainability performance indicators across a range of areas, including energy, carbon, waste, water and responsible sourcing. And these programmes have led the group to gain ISO 50001 certification for energy management, for each one of its hotels globally.

The ibis Singapore on Bencoolen has launched the Eco-Pen, made from recycled newspaper. Invented by Steven Ding, the hotel’s housekeeping manager, the Eco-Pen supports several of the programme’s objectives, including recycling, eco-innovation and community development. Ding and his colleagues were struck by the fact that more than 50,000 newspapers and some 18,000 plastic pens were being thrown out each year and set out to address the issue.

Ibis Bencoolen was the first Singapore hotel to implement PLANET 21, a sustainable development programme by parent company Accor, which operates more than 3,500 hotels worldwide. The programme has 21 core goals, including a 15 per cent reduction in water consumption; increasing energy efficiency by  10 per cent, and ban on using endangered fish species.

At Radisson Blu Cebu, 14 green initiatives have contributed to the hotel in the Philippines being named winner in the sustainable operations category of the Hotel Investment Conference Asia Pacific’s 2014 Sustainable Hotel Awards. Among the measures that gained the hotel its sustainable awards include the replacement of 1,500 plants around the hotel with those requiring less water; installing pre-cooler Air Handling Units (AHU) with dehumidifiers, and reducing maximum AHU speed; replacing 200 boiler horsepower machines with 40, resulting in an 80 per cent reduction in liquefied petroleum gas consumption; rainwater collection for irrigation and cleaning, and using recycling and waste management programmes leading to zero waste sent to landfill.

The Hong Kong-based Shangri-La chain has become the first hotel group in Asia Pacific to be added to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI).

Launched in 1999, the DJSI tracks leading sustainability-driven companies worldwide, assessing their green performance from economic, environmental and social development perspectives. Entry standards are high. In 2014, for example, DJSI reviewed 2,500 companies worldwide; but only 333 firms were selected for inclusion in the index.

The Shangri-La chain, which owns and operates 81 hotels worldwide, has a sustainability campaign that focuses on the environment, health and safety, employees, supply chain and stakeholder relations.

Two flagship projects, Embrace and Sanctuary, were launched in 2009. ‘Embrace, Shangri-La’s Care for People Project’, aims to promote education and health support in underprivileged communities, while  ‘Sanctuary, Shangri-La’s Care for Nature Project’, promotes the conservation and restoration of biodiversity.

Meanwhile, the Six Senses Con Dao resort on Dat Doc Beach, Con Dao island, Vietnam uses locally-sourced materials in construction and maintaining indigenous plants.

Sustainability measures include the resort’s building materials — local granite and local hardwood sourced from sustainably managed forests. Other measures include a ban on plastic bottles, using non-toxic biodegradable cleaning products, and the use of fans instead of air-conditioning. The resort also has a policy of preserving, protecting and rebuilding.

Source: CEI

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