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we had to give hub by Premier Inn at Covent Garden a special mention because not only had the design set out to be one of the most sustainable around, the entire building and refit process was conducted with the highest environmental consideration. The attention to detail and concern for the neighbourhood was truly outstanding.
The concept hotel brand features modern technology and great value hotel design, and underlining our faith in its sustainable credentials, even at design stage hub by Premier Inn was awarded an ‘outstanding’ rating in BREEAM’s environmental assessment – the only hotel in the UK to have achieved this rating at the time.
hub by Premier Inn has committed to a pipeline of thirteen hotels to date, equating to more than 2,500 rooms, and the hotel at St Martins Lane - which cost Whitbread in excess of £30 million to build and includes state of the art heat, cooling and energy saving technologies to drive efficiencies - is set to be the brand’s flagship and best practice model for all those set to follow. With that in mind Green Hotelier wanted to take a closer look to see what makes this property a beacon of best practice. We spoke to Corporate Social Responsibility Director, Whitbread Hotels and Restaurants, James Pitcher.
GH: Can you take us on your hotel or resort’s sustainability journey? What are the key initiatives that the hotel has undertaken to improve its sustainability?
JP: Whitbread’s pilot hub by Premier Inn is a converted office building located at 110 St Martin’s Lane, London and is leading the way with sustainable design. Integrating sustainable technologies and construction techniques into the design of the hotel has enabled this first hub by Premier Inn site to reduce energy use, save water and encourage local biodiversity in the city.
GH: What initiatives have had the biggest impact on your sustainability and / or your bottom line? Do you know how much energy / water / waste / money you’ve saved?
JP: The site uses 100% renewable certified energy supplied from the grid which is sourced from a variety of sources including wind, hydro and bio-mass fuel. Additionally, during the renovation of the office block, efficient fabric insulation was installed throughout the building and low energy LED lights were fitted into guest bedrooms to save energy throughout the site. As a result there has been a 24.5% reduction in regulated CO2 emissions against the 2010 Buildings Regulations.
The heating and cooling for the hotel guestrooms and restaurant is provided by variable refrigerant flow (VRF) air source heat pumps, which incorporate heat recovery technology and result in lower overall carbon emissions, when compared to traditional gas-fired boilers and conventional chillers.
In order to ensure that water usage was reduced across the estate, the hub incorporated an integrated water strategy during the construction stage. Installing taps with low flow regulators and low flow showerheads - which provide guests with the experience of a power shower without a negative environmental impact - has contributed towards a reduction in water use at the hotel.
Domestic water is provided by a combined heat and power (CHP) energy saving unit with thermal storage, while low energy LED light fittings have been installed throughout the hotel and restaurant to minimise energy wastage.
In addition hub team members are trained in energy and water awareness to promote sustainable behaviour and good environmental housekeeping.
GH: Do you have any community outreach programmes and if so, can you describe them for us?
JP: The cycle racks installed at the site and green travels plans available to visitors of hub by Premier Inn are positively impacting the local environment and community. Further to this, the hotel has a bio-diverse roof that helps with water attenuation and increases the wildlife on site. To optimise this biodiversity across site, Whitbread has chosen a mix of 12 wildflower species to enhance the roof space.
GH: Tell us more about your BREEAM award.
JP: BREEAM is a worldwide environmental rating system for buildings and sets the standard for best practice in sustainable building design, construction and operation.
Simon Ewins, COO - Premier Inn, hub by Premier Inn & Corporate Social Responsibility at Whitbread said, “As a global standard, achieving the highest BREEAM rating for a hotel in the UK is a real step-change for the hospitality industry. The rating demonstrates that even with heavy water and energy usage by guests, companies can prioritise sustainability alongside great customer service.”
Gavin Dunn, Director of BREEAM said: “I’d like to offer my congratulations to Whitbread. This is a real achievement at the hub by Premier Inn, Covent Garden. It shows a strong commitment to innovation and sustainability and as the first Outstanding rated hotel in the UK provides an exemplar for the industry as a whole.”
The hotel, which has been designed with innovation, sustainability and user-friendliness in mind, includes lighting and heating in bedrooms, which guests can control from an app.
Ruth Geeson, Associate Partner at sustainability consultancy Greengage said:
“We are very fortunate to have a wide range of clients who, like us, understand the value of sustainability. However the St Martin’s Lane project is a real highlight. Whitbread has entrenched sustainability into every aspect of the project from pre-planning and integrated design through to construction and completion.”
GH: Is there a stand-out aspect to your sustainability strategy that is unusual, eye-catching or different from other hotels?
JP: hub by Premier Inn is an innovative concept which combines cutting edge technology with pioneering sustainability. We wanted to demonstrate that a hotel can be modern, providing guests with a new and interactive experience, whilst maintaining the green credentials found elsewhere in our estate. The hotel was a great opportunity to push innovation and to see what could be achieved by putting a number of efficient technologies together.
In addition it was important that we brought parts of the local community into our concept to ensure that our sustainability agenda had a wider impact on the region, not just our business. Sourcing much of our food from nearby Borough Market and creating a roof top garden for local wildlife has helped us to meet this goal.
GH: What plans do you have for your hotel’s sustainability in the future?
JP: We’re always working on new ways to improve our sustainability strategy and enhance our credentials. One area in which we are looking to develop our approach is in the re-use of our food waste and we’re running a trial in London at the moment. Our wider recycling programme is very successful and we believe that this a crucial area in which we can develop.
GH: What tips or advice would you offer to any other hotel in your region which is just beginning the sustainability journey?
JP: Setting realistic goals and planning a solid strategy is the most important step on any sustainability journey. Assessing your current credentials is a good place to start – from here you can identify areas for improvement and work with your team to progress your goals.