Moneycontrol PRO
you are here: HomeNewsEnvironment

Sustainable travel: Are ecologically constructed hotels the future?

The hospitality industry is obviously affected by climate change and increasing natural disasters, but it is also a major contributor to global warming. Are sustainable green hotel buildings, the answer?

March 19, 2023 / 11:40 AM IST
(Photo: Joel Filipe via Unsplash)

(Photo: Joel Filipe via Unsplash)

Osho said, “You are a guest. Leave this Earth a little more beautiful, a little more human, a little more loveable, a little more fragrant, for those unknown guests who will be following you.” Sustainability, of course, has to go beyond being just a buzzword, with every sector contributing towards India’s pledge of achieving net-zero emissions by 2070.

This is true of hospitality, too.

Adopting eco-friendly practices helps hotels win over green travellers, and also helps in reducing costs and improving the bottom-line in the long run.

From reducing single-use plastic and going paperless to putting the 3 R's (reduce, reuse, recycle) into practice and implementing rainwater harvesting, as well as installing smart meters and motion-activated lights and faucets to save water and energy, the hospitality industry has been doing some things towards being sustainable.

However, hotel buildings themselves represent a large amount of carbon emissions and energy use - in their construction especially.

As per United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) buildings, including hotels, account for 37 percent of global energy related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and with 75-80 percent of the existing buildings across the world expected to still be in use by 2050, the hospitality industry must now prioritize sustainable construction practices and retrofitting existing hotels to achieve sustainability goals.

“Unlike the carbon emitted during the operations phase, embodied carbon cannot be brought down by retrofitting. It is essential to incorporate sustainability in the design and planning stage of the project,” says Hemant Khurana, Executive Director, Saint-Gobain India.

Khurana adds that the hospitality industry is trying to move towards minimal use of natural resources and conservation of water and energy.

Green Buildings

Light and modular construction methods like usage of drywalls, rain-water harvesting during construction, reduction in construction waste and Concrete 3D printing technology, are some of the recommended sustainable practices for construction.

The hospitality sector particularly stands to benefit from the use of light and sustainable construction, as it not only reduces the carbon footprint but also helps to build faster, thereby reducing the time to occupy the building and earn revenue.

“The adoption of green and sustainable hotel design and construction techniques will be the sector's next big step towards sustainability,” says Mandeep S. Lamba, President (South Asia) HVS ANAROCK.

“We recrafted our mission statement to incorporate sustainability and were the first company to manufacture zero-carbon glass,” says B. Santhanam, CEO Asia Pacific and India Region, Saint-Gobain and Chairman, Saint-Gobain India.

Saint-Gobain uses a range of methods to reduce direct emissions on their sites and include product design, new composition for materials, lighter products and less carbon-intensive raw materials, to make industrial processes more energy-efficient, and offer lean and sustainable construction solutions exclusively for the hospitality segment.

As per Santhanam, 60 percent of Saint-Gobain’s portfolio contributes to the reduction of CO2 emissions with low carbon, energy-efficient materials that meet the need for well-being in living and working spaces.

Big hotels today need high-security glass, which is bullet resistant, vandal-resistant and blast-resistant. Traditional methods of producing glass, however, use up natural resources (sand) and need very high temperatures. Typically, glass also has a greenhouse effect; new ways to produce it can reduce energy consumption over the life of a building.

Perhaps it is time to re-think the conventional ‘take, make, dispose,’ approach to constructing hotels, if sustainability metrics are to be seriously met.

Mini Ribeiro
Mini Ribeiro is an independent food & beverage journalist and author. She is on Twitter @MiniRib Views expressed are personal.
first published: Mar 19, 2023 11:40 am