.

ITC: Enduring Value

Media Centre


Green gathering 07 May 2010

The Hindu Business Line

Business meets that tread gently on the environment? A few hotels step up to the challenge..

Environmental concerns have sensitised many in the hotel industry to the need to curb greenhouse gases. This, in turn, has led to the concept of green conferences, meetings, and conventions. An established trend within the global tourism and convention industry, ‘green meetings' are now a common feature in many hotels in the West. The idea is to minimise the environmental impact of these corporate events.

In India, too, such eco-sensitive hospitality is gradually gaining ground. And with good reason too. ITC Welcomgroup, for instance, states that “making a ‘green' hotel costs at least 1/3 more, but… it is well worth to spend more to save more. For in the final analysis, it is our planet that we are trying to save”. ITC's Green Centre, Gurgaon was awarded the Platinum Green Building rating by USGBC-LEED (Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly described it as a “monument to the future” during her visit to India last year.

“The Green Centre catches every drop of rainwater that falls on its premises, for later use,” says Niranjan Khatri, General Manager of WelcomEnviron Initiatives, ITC Welcomgroup. The building makes optimum use of natural light and thereby significantly reduces energy consumption. “The double-glass windows allow light but not the heat to enter, thereby decreasing the load of air conditioners. We use as much power as we need; no more, no less,” says Khatri. There are separate storage bins for recyclable materials like paper, cardboard, glass, plastic and metals in a bid to “reduce, reuse and recycle”. They also use small tumblers for water to limit wastage.

TC Sonar in Kolkata too has the distinction of generating carbon credits for sustainable practices. Spread across 16 acres of lush green land and dotted with ponds, it stands out soothingly amidst the concrete jungle of high-rise buildings in the neighbourhood.

Green practices at the ITC Royal Gardenia involve using solar energy for outdoor lighting and steam generation. Conferences use 100 per cent recycled paper and stationery, as well as energy-efficient light fittings. Even the food is served in “Dudson crockery”, which is eco-friendly as it is produced using low-energy technology. Located in the heart of Bangalore, the hotel attempts to live up to the metro's “garden city” fame. “You create a positive footprint… when you stay with us. The ITC Group sequesters twice the carbon it emits, harvests twice the freshwater it consumes and recycles more solid waste than it creates,” says a hotel communiqué.

Its peach buildings topped with brick-red roof tiles are specially designed to be “environment friendly”, says the Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa. The 250 spacious guest-rooms and suites set in Indo-Portuguese style pousadas nestle amidst glimmering waterways and lagoons. The eco-friendly Sereno Spa has indoor and outdoor pavilions set around an inner courtyard. The hotel attempts “to combine astute asset management with a passionate commitment to the environment”. Conferences leave fewer carbon footprints through the use of high intensity, low wattage lamps, reduced water levels in flush tanks, and compost pits to reduce the use of chemical fertilisers.

Trident Chennai, on the other hand, believes in “conserving energy without compromising on quality”. “We have maximised the use of T5 lights, compact fluorescent bulbs and infrared halogen bulbs,” says the General Manager, Sharad Puri. “We have increased consciousness among team members across all functions of the hotel. A reduction in energy consumption cannot be achieved without the participation of people.”

Renaissance Mumbai Hotel and Convention Centre again offers a ‘green meeting' package for corporates. This involves the use of recycled paper, biodegradable pens, water pitcher instead of packaged water and a special menu of local products.

The growing presence of MNCs too has favoured the ‘green meeting' movement as they encourage waste-free food and beverage services, recycled paper, biodegradable pens, energy saving lights, organic flowers and paperless billing.

Essentials of green meetings
Practise
the 3Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle
Paperless meeting or use of recycled paper
100 per cent recycled pens, conference pads and pencils
Turn off air-conditioners when not in use
Use local food products that minimise need for transportation
Avoid packaged drinking water or sachets for sugar/ salt/ butter/ jam
Donate excess food to local charities
Energy-saving audiovisual equipment and lights
Linen reuse programme
Biodegradable facial tissues, toilet paper and paper towels
Biodegradable cutlery cups and plates
Paperless billing

© ITC Limited