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Painting Sri Lankan hotels green - Switch-Asia ‘Greening Sri Lanka Hotels’ project makes progress

Feb 19, 2012 1:30:33 PM - www.ft.lk

Switch-Asia ‘Greening Sri Lanka Hotels’ project makes progress

By Cheranka Mendis
Sri Lanka Tourism will soon introduce a ‘Green Accreditation Scheme’ for hotels which would classify hotels under its green initiatives, Switch Asia Project Director Srilal Miththapala said.
The scheme would classify hotels under their eco sustainable activities and would be awarded on a similar line as the star classifications, he said.

Compiled by the Switch-Asia ‘Greening Sri Lanka Hotels’ project, the scheme would outline guidelines to make existing hotels greener and new hotels to start green. It would come as a check list of must-haves for the hotels and would encourage energy saving, discourage excessive use of water and resources and implement waste management in hotels.
Miththapala stated that the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority had requested Switch- Asia to prepare an environmental guideline for new investors to follow. “This would be like a check list for environment and energy conservation measures for construction of new hotels.”
He acknowledged that many of the company’s hosting new hotel projects had inquired on the subject matter. However, when the scheme is implemented, existing hotels will also have a set of policies to be followed.
“According to statistics announced by Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Dr. Nalaka Godahewa, by November 2011, Sri Lanka Tourism had received 210 project applications for new hotels and resorts,” Miththapala said. Out of the 210, 92 have been approved, which would generate approximately 7,396 rooms. “This would mean higher use of energy and more resource utility and waste generation.”
Under the ‘Greening Sri Lanka Hotels’ project, a European Commission-funded programme under Switch-Asia, 12 awareness seminars have been conducted thus far, covering areas of the west coast, deep south, north, south, cultural triangle, central, Nuwara Eliya and east coast.
Miththapala stated that a total of 254 hotels had participated in the seminars, of which 177 have signed up for the programme. “Comprehensive workshops numbering 14 were conducted for the registered hotels while a total of 203 engineering/technical staff from 157 hotels received training,” he noted. “Establishment data was collected from 112 hotels while baseline data was collected from 56. A total of 88 walkthrough audits were also carried out.”
The ‘Greening Sri Lanka Hotels’ project was started two-and-a-half years ago to support the industry by urging hotels, especially those in the SME sector, to optimise resources. This in turn would work to improve energy, water and waste management, reducing costs and increasing market acceptance of Sri Lankan hotels by promoting them as low carbon footprint green hotels.
The project has received a grant of Euro 2 million spread over a four-year period.
“We provide consultancy, advice and technical inputs free and help hotels identify areas for improvement. We help prepare feasibility reports, benchmark and compare environmental performances and support adherence to regulations and preparation for certification.”
Even though Sri Lanka is considered much greener than other countries, it cannot be complacent, he said. “We need more hotels to join us and to implement interventions for resource conservation and move towards sustainable practices,” he noted.
The objective is to reduce energy consumption water consumption and waste generation at least by an average of 20%.
CCC Solutions Ltd. MD/CEO Prema Cooray noted that European countries would come to honour the greener hotels concept soon and would place Sri Lanka in the radar of green practices if the program is conducted successfully and all hotels adhere to such principles. “The recognition we have received for this alone is encouraging. We must further promote such green initiatives among the industry.”
The hospitality sector is today ranked as one of the most energy intensive sectors with high water usage and waste generation.
Cooray noted: “We have a challenge because hotels are today very busy making money that some do not take into consideration such aspects as discussed in the project. However, what must be understood is that the long-term impact of this would be to their advantage.”