India’s eco pioneer: The Orchid, Mumbai

The Orchid Hotel, Mumbai

The Orchid Hotel, Mumbai

The Orchid, has been a pioneer in exhibiting innovative environmental systems since its inception in 1997.

Under the leadership of its Executive Chairman and Managing Director, Dr Vithal Kamat the Orchid has created a benchmark for environment standards in the hospitality industry in India.

The Orchid is a recipient of 80 international and national awards. The most recent accolade being the prestigious The Times of India Earth Care Award 2012 for excellence in Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation.

We recently spoke with Aldrina Fernandes, Environment Officer of The Orchard to find out in more detail about their sustainable initiatives.

Waste

  • Construction materials used at The Orchid have a high proportion of recycled content. To elaborate, cement has 15 % fly ash, concrete has approximately 60% fly ash, internal panels are made from fertilizer waste, MDF wood comes from cotton stalks
  • Waste is segregated in all the kitchens. Four separate colour coded bins are used for separating the waste into dry, wet, recyclable and other. A two bin segregation system is used not only in the hotel's common areas but also in guestrooms
  • The food waste or wet waste is decomposed in the hotels premises though vermiculture. The rich and fertile vermicompost has been serving as an excellent fertilizer for our gardens. Whilst it is also distributed to guests and employees, there is a considerable demand from the community. Through the vermiculture system we have generated 3, 60,000 Kilograms of vermicompost from approx 40, 00,000 kilograms of food waste
  • Dry waste is given out to a recycler for recycling
  • All paper used has a minimum of 25% recycled content
  • Guest Room amenities include biodegradable herbal products and stationery made from environment friendly material. To elaborate; hangers are made from sawdust, slippers from reed/cloth, folders from jute, wood saver pencils, laundry baskets from cane, laundry and shopping bags from cloth . Only potted plants are used in the hotel instead of cut flowers. No carbon paper is used in the hotel as it is toxic to microbes that breakdown organic waste  

Energy & Carbon

Energy efficient designs and systems have been integrated into the hotel from its very foundation.

  • The Skylight: Double layered domes admit maximum natural light in the atrium of the hotel thereby reducing the extent of artificial lighting required in the lobby, corridors, rooms and restaurants
  • The Façade: Depressions and protrusions in the façade play an important role in reducing energy consumption since majority of the walls remain under shade thereby preventing surface radiation from entering the structure
  • Triple Glazed windows incorporated in the rooms consist of three panes separated by two hermetically sealed spaces. These windows have the best thermal insulating properties and also assist in curtailing noise from India’s busiest domestic airport
  • Energy efficient lighting: The hotel uses energy efficient lighting such as CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lighting) and LEDs
  • Solar energy: The hotel has solar panels on its roof and the electricity generated through these panels is used for the rooftop lighting, reducing the extent of conventional coal based electricity used by the hotel
  • Intelligent control systems: Each room in the hotel has a master control panel to control the lighting and temperature of the room.  This master control panel has an eco-button, which when pressed increases the temperature of the room by two degrees without affecting guest comfort
  • Air conditioning and refrigeration systems use CFC free refrigerants with low ozone depleting potential

By saving an average 99,344 units of electricity per month The Orchid Hotel prevents 2, 12,596.16 pounds of CO2 equivalent emissions going into the atmosphere each month.

Water

The Orchid is mindful of the fact that merely 3% of the water available on the earth is fresh water. With the current projected water demand in the country it is of utmost importance to conserve, utilise and manage this vital resource in a sustainable manner.

In order to mitigate the negative impact on freshwater depletion due to its operations, The Orchid has adopted a three fold strategy:

(a) Minimise the consumption of fresh water through installed systems and system aligned practices

  • Aerators: All the taps in the hotel contain special aerators, which increase the force of the water and reduce outflow, thus reducing water consumption by nearly 50% as compared to conventional ones
  • Cisterns and Flushes: Geberit’s concealed cisterns have been installed to ensure that water utilised is kept to a minimum. The concealed cistern uses only 6 litres of water per flush as opposed to15-20 litres used in conventional flushes
  • Water treatment: The Orchid also employs environmental treatment methods for water purification. Drinking water and the swimming pool is purified by a combination of Ozone treatment and filtration as opposed to conventional systems that use chlorine. Ozone destroys all micro organisms and ensures proper disinfection of water i.e. the resultant water is absolutely safe, pure, fresh and healthy. When drinking water is treated with chlorine (chlorine is a highly carcinogenic chemical), the residual chlorine in water is also consumed. On the other hand the use of ozone treatment leaves no trace of toxicity in the water.
  • Linen Reuse Program: The hotel has a linen reuse program for the guests who stay for more than one night. The standard practice of the hotel is to change the linen everyday. However, a guest can opt to reuse their linen by placing this card on their bed. Guests who reuse their linen are given a certificate along with a gift. The certificate thanks the guest for participating in this program and informs them that their participation helped reduce consumption of fresh water, electricity and detergent
  • Garden plants are watered before sunrise and after sunset, to avoid water loss due to evaporation.
  • Other practices include hotel cars being washed using buckets instead of a direct pipe, dishwashers are operated only when fully loaded and leaking taps are immediately attended to

(b) Eliminate discharge of waste water by treating and recycling all waste water

  • Treating and recycling all waste water not only reduces fresh water intake but also prevents the pollution of fresh water resources
  • The Sewage Treatment Plant at The Orchid (on the roof!) treats all the waste water of the hotel with the technology of Rotating Biological Contractors. This recycled water is reused for irrigating our gardens. Further the quality of waste water is significantly better than those required by statutory norms. Hence if any water is released into the drain, it does not harm the environment since it has been treated completely

(c) Create awareness of water use among the employees and within the community

The Orchid’s endeavour towards sustainability include instilling awareness among employees as well as the community at large, on environment issues including water conservation and preservation

Education & training

Environmental awareness amongst the team members is imperative for the hotel to sustain its commitment to the environment. Consequently, training programs and activities for team members are conducted on a regular basis.

The Green Team comprising of 2 members from all the departments of the hotel conduct awareness events including lots of competitions, screening documentaries about environmental issues and setting up interactive sessions with other organisations like Sanctuary Asia, Green Peace and the NGO Sharan.

The induction program for the new team members includes a session from the Environment Officer who briefs the team of the hotel’s environmental systems. Team members are also shown the documentary 'Cutting Carbon Footprints' during this training program. Therefore, the team is well-versed with critical issues that face the environment and are motivated to bring about change not only at the workplace but at home. Refresher Training sessions are also held regularly.

Events

We believe we have an important role to play in educating and inspiring individuals to become responsible stewards of the environment. In alignment with this belief we organise several social programs yearly. Past year events include plant and vermicompost distribution, beach clean up drives, Wealth out of Waste Exhibitions, plantation drives, street plays, running awareness sessions for schools, nature trails and landscape restoration.

Some of the events conducted are enlisted below:

Nirmalya Composting Initiative:

For the last 18 years, The Orchid Hotel and the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) embarkED on a Nirmalya Composting Project during the Ganesh Festival in Mumbai. ‘Nirmalya’ refers to offerings that are made to Lord Ganesh which include garlands, sweets, fruits, coconuts etc. To ensure that this Nirmalya does not end up as waste on beaches, rivers, roads, landfill sites etc. The Orchid and the MCGM conduct a major collection drive in Mumbai. The collected Nirmalya is segregated and put into vermiculture pits to compost using earthworms.

Beautification of Mumbai with 18 gardens:

The Orchid has also spread greenery all across Mumbai by maintaining 18 gardens in the city. The Orchid has adopted gardens and traffic islands around the city for beautification purposes and to improve the overall environment of Mumbai. Plants and trees act as carbon sinks and remove harmful toxins in the air. They also are aesthetically pleasing to the senses and therefore improve the social well being of the people in the city. We have also developed the first butterfly garden in Mumbai underneath the Bandra-Mahim flyover which has an area of approximately 2,500 square feet.

Environmental awareness sessions for schools at The Orchid Hotel, Mumbai

Environmental awareness sessions for schools at The Orchid Hotel, Mumbai

School student Visits to the Hotel:

The Orchid is one of the few hotels to spread environmental awareness to students of schools and colleges. Schools and colleges are invited to The Orchid where they are taught about various environmental issues like solid waste management, energy efficiency and water conservation and preservation. They are also shown around the hotel premises where they learn about various systems such as vermiculture, 4 bin segregation system, water saving measures, and other environmental practices being implemented. 

Advanced Locality Management:

The Orchid spearheaded this programme, run by the MCGM. Under this programme the residents of an area contribute towards the cleaning maintenance and security of a part of the city. It was The Orchid's initiative  and  drive  to get together  five  neighbouring  hotels,  offices,  taxi drivers  and  shop owners  to  adopt  the  programme.

World Environment Day (5th June 2012) and Earth Day Celebrations (April 22nd 2012):

Every year The Green Team of The Orchid celebrates Earth Day and World Environment Day to spread environment awareness and increase appreciation of our planet.

And finally here's the Orchard's top 3 tips for hotels looking to do the same:

  • Understand environmentalism and engrave sustainability in the company culture
  • Address the major impacts of the hotel on the environment and opportunities to reduce them
  • Set short term, long term targets and review progress

For more information go to www.orchidhotel.com

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