Try booking a conference at Maurya Sheraton in New Delhi, and you will be offered the choice of having the heavy drapes lifted off the windows, letting natural light in. Introducing customers to the benefits of saving water, the hotel will also request that bed linen be changed less frequently.
“We don’t change bed linen every day at home, do we?” says Niranjan Khatri, general manager, environment, ITC Hotels.
The cost benefits of such steps are yet to be passed on to the customer but as a growing green conscience redefines the way we live, a guilt-free stay is just one of the many advantages.
In real terms, the benefits are many and they all add up to a common theme — reduction in the carbon footprint of luxury hotels.
Hotels in India have woven in another compelling reason to go green: cost reduction and bottomline improvements.
The initial project costs of The Park that invested Rs 340 crore in its Hyderabad project went up by “5-7 per cent”. Anurag Bajaj, general manager, The Park, Hyderabad, says, “The return on investment will start coming in by the fourth-fifth year of operation.”
The change doesn’t end with tweaking systems and processes to reduce the usage of consumables and utilities. Many new hotels are revisiting the construction design itself.
“For new ones, initiatives are also in terms of designing green property, with leading practices in terms of sustainable site planning, energy, water and material conservation, etc,” says Dipankar Ghosh, Partner-Climate Change & Sustainability Services, Ernst & Young.
Orchid Mumbai, an independent business hotel, started the trend in India. In 1997, it earned the tag of being Asia’s first five-star Ecotel. The next was ITC’s Sonar, the first hotel in the world to obtain Certified Emission Reductions, or Climate Credits issued by the Clean Development Mechanism for emission reductions.
And that’s not all. Hotels such as The Park are beginning to revisit established norms. The hotel chain now serves drinking water in pony tumblers that are half the size of 250 ml glasses. “They accommodate a few sips of water that can be filled if the guests want to,” he said.
The impact of cost savings can be gauged over time. Maurya, in Delhi, consumed 1,100 kilolitres (kl) of water a day during the late ’80s. In 2009, it reduced to 450 kl. Sewage water is treated and used for horticulture, flushing and air-conditioning. Excess water is often given to the civic body.
The Chennai hotel gives its excess water to the Russian consulate for horticulture while the Hyderabad project gives its water to a bank.
The Park in Hyderabad has also linked its storm-water drainage to the rainwater harvesting system.