Dubai hotels concerned about their environmental impact

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Hotels in Dubai are increasingly taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint as guests become more concerned about the environmental impact of hotels.

The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) is preparing to implement its compulsory carbon reduction initiative this year, which aims to see Dubai hotels reduce their carbon footprint 20 per cent by the end of 2011.
The DTCM has yet to decide on a starting date.

“We’re preparing proper plans,” said Shaikha al Mutawa, the director of business development at the DTCM. “From day one, hotels were very interested in being part of this.”

A number of hotels groups are already striving to reduce their carbon emissions.
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), which has 12 hotels in the UAE, earlier this year launched an online system called Green Engage across its hotels globally. This enables the company’s general managers to compare the environmental performance of their hotels. The initiative also lists measures the hotel can take to reduce its footprint.

“The carbon footprint for a hotel has become as important as the location, product, and the facilities and services the hotel is offering,” said Tom Rowntree, the vice president of commercial for the Middle East and Africa for IHG.

“It becomes one of the criteria that the guest is looking for when choosing a particular hotel.”

The average European hotel produces 3000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year compared with 6500 tonnes produced by the average Dubai hotel, according to a study by the consultancy Farnek Avireal. The energy bill for a typical five-star hotel in Dubai is up to Dh7 million (US$1.9m) a year.

“As you’d expect, Dubai’s carbon emissions are higher than many other cities around the world, but obviously the conditions we’re living in are far more extreme,” said Mr Rowntree.

“But, with it, there are also opportunities for greater initiatives, for example solar energy.”

The Crowne Plaza Dubai, which is part of IHG, has started using recycled bedsheets as laundry bags to reduce its use of plastic. Meanwhile, the InterContinental and Crowne Plaza Dubai Festival City hotels are working with Philips and EcoVenture to replace the entire lighting system of the hotels with a more energy-efficient LED system.

The InterContinental Dubai Festival City is also testing Lexus LS600 Hybrid limousines, which claim to be able reduce emissions by up to 70 per cent.
Other groups trying to reduce their environmental impact in Dubai include Jumeriah, Rotana, Rezidor and Hilton.

Al Murooj Rotana Dubai is reducing its carbon dioxide emissions by 41,650kg a year, while its annual energy-related savings were equal to Dh33,082 and 4184 trees, said Hussein Hachem, the hotel’s general manager.

Mr Rowntree said the rewards for hotels were two-fold: the eventual cost savings for the owners and the positive impact on the environment, which outweighed the initial expense.
“There has to be a cost outlay for any initiative,” he said.

He also welcomed the steps being taken by the DTCM.
“Dubai is the first city in the Middle East that has come out with a robust and transparent target for energy saving, which also fits very nicely in terms of what IHG is doing from its own perspective.”
The DTCM said hotels that failed to sign up to the optimisation programme would be fined.
rbundhun@thenational.ae

The DTCM has yet to decide upon an implementation date for the programme.

“We’re preparing proper plans,” said Shaikha Al Mutawa, the director of business development at the DTCM. “From day one, hotels were very interested in being part of this.” But, independently of the DTCM initiative, a number hotels groups are already striving to reduce their carbon emissions.

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), which has 12 hotels in the UAE, earlier this year launched a new online system called Green Engage across its hotels globally. This will allow general managers at the UAE hotels to benchmark the environmental performance of their hotel against similar hotels around the world, as well as listing measures the hotel can take to reduce its footprint.

Other groups which are actively trying to reduce their environmental impact in Dubai include Jumeriah, Rotana, Rezidor and Hilton. Al Murooj Rotana Dubai has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 41,650 kg over the past year, while its annual energy related saving and trees savings were equal to Dh33,082 and 4184 trees respectively, Hussein Hachem, the general manager of the hotel said.