Meluha – The Fern: keeping a finger on the sustainability button

Winning an award at the Green Hotel Conference

Mr Param Kannampilly, MD of The Fern Hotel & Resorts, honouring Ngo Rur at the 2nd Annual Green Hotel Conference, Meluha

In India, Meluha-The Fern is a five star environmentally responsible business hotel in the heart of Hiranandani Gardens - Powai, Mumbai.

In the space of three years, the hotel has gained recognition in both National and International arenas with 30 awards including Today’s Traveler Award - Best Environmentally Friendly Hotel; Golden Peacock Eco-Innovation Award; CMO Asia-Best Premium Business Hotel etc.

The hotel has 141 carefully designed guest rooms that reflect modern Indian sensibility, and two restaurants. The hotel also has one of the largest indoor meeting and banquet facilities, making it a preferred choice for business and family events.

Meluha-The Fern is the first property in the word to receive a LEED Gold- New Building (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) and be named an Ecotel Certified Hotel. The Gold certified building design includes state-of-the-art architecture, sustainable systems and technologies. Ecotel Certification enables the hotel to be more sustainable by reducing the environmental impact of day-to-day operations; becoming financially more viable and socially responsible.

The Fern Hotels & Resorts believes that responsible luxury is not an oxymoron. They work to ensure that every operation is in complete harmony with the natural world. Sustainability considerations are a part of their daily lives and they are committed and passionate about serving guests and the environment.

They endeavour to take responsibility for the Earth resources they use. As well as being cautious about how and what they use, they ensure maximum reuse and recycling of resources.

Their commitment has been substantiated a significant reduction in resource consumption and by the heightened environmental sensitivity of employees and the community relationships they have cultivated.                                                                                                                                 

What are the most exciting sustainable initiatives at the hotel?

The green building uses a high efficiency heating and cooling system, cool roof system, energy efficient lighting, rain water harvesting systems, low-flow taps and flushes, etc. Our waste management practices of segregation and implementation of reduce-reuse-recycle measures ensure our solid waste diversion rate is 99.4% *

Meluha-The Fern is also ranked No. 1* in the country in the total water reuse rate since recycled water is used for flushing, cooling towers, irrigation, etc.

We are driven towards creating responsible environment stewards through interactive training modules, innovative team building activities, and community events. At Meluha-The Fern, Sustainability is not merely a philosophy, but a way of life.

*HVS Environmental Resource Consumption benchmarking survey

List all your sustainable initiatives under each category:

A brief description of Meluha-The Fern's Environment Programme.

Energy & Carbon                                              

Materials & Resource Management

97.48% of construction waste has been diverted from landfills. The list of materials diverted include steel scrap, packaging materials, broken hollow blocks, tiles, glass, wooden scrap, plumbing and plaster waste. Most of the materials used in construction was obtained locally, supporting the regional economy and reducing environmental impacts resulting from transportation.

Energy Management

At Meluha The Fern, we try our best to ensure every unit of energy is put to use. Energy management designs and systems enlisted below have been integrated into the hotel to ensure optimum utilisation of energy.

  • The building design incorporates efficient lighting systems, high performance glass, and CO sensors in the car park to optimise energy performance.
  • No CFC based refrigerants are used in the HVAC system to reduce ozone depletion in the atmosphere.
  • To further measure and verify energy performance, a system of meters and sub-meters is installed.
  • The parabolic shaped building allows sunlight to illuminate the hotel and limits direct sunlight penetration. Optimal levels of daylight enters the building to illuminate the lobby, restaurants, corridors, rooms etc. thus minimising the need for artificial lighting.
  • Heat gain and loss is further prevented by the use of hermetically sealed double glazed windows in all areas of the hotel and excellent roof top insulation with three layers of natural resource COBA (clay brick).
  • We’ve ensured that we limit our consumption by using energy efficient lighting such as LED lamps, compact fluorescent lamps, Smart T5 tube lights. Dimmers installed in the lobby, restaurants, and heart-of-house areas vary brightness and save energy. Motion sensor lights have also been installed in public areas of the hotel.
  • Our centralised HVAC system has a highly efficient microprocessor based controller to reduce starting current and control acceleration of the motors. Moreover, the refrigerant used in the AC plant and the refrigerators is CFC free.
  • The HVAC system has 3 STL (storage thermal latent) tanks installed. The system permits the generation of cooling or heating to be transferred to a period when our AC plant would otherwise be shut down, or when energy costs are lower. Also, a significant amount of energy is saved since the AC plant is run during the night when ambient temperatures are lower. This enables effective load management, maximises efficiency of the plant and conserves
  • Another interesting element of the HVAC system is that hot water for the hotel is generated from the waste heat of the AC plant through a De Super Heater. As a back-up, we also have a natural gas powered Hot Water Generator installed.
  • Energy conservation through Building Management System Automation enables demand-based ventilation in public areas like banquet halls, meeting rooms, etc. Further distribution pumps are controlled to distribute chilled water as per load through variable frequency drives (VFD). Chiller set points are adjusted based on ambient temperatures. Kitchen exhaust and treated fresh air is control-based and scheduled through the BMS.
  • The guest rooms are incorporated with an intelligent key-tag system. Also the Master Control Panel in the guest rooms incorporates a unique feature known as the ECO button. On pressing the Eco button the thermostat of the air-conditioning unit is stepped up by two degrees. A certificate of appreciation is issued to the guest who has voluntarily participated in conserving energy. We have developed a direct mail link with the guests, and inform them of our ongoing environmental activities.
  • We use the world’s most successful hybrid car for guest transportation; a Toyota Prius. The vehicle generates some of its own power by recovering kinetic energy during braking. This reduces fuel consumption & thus, carbon dioxide emissions. Solar powered power banks for cell phones are used.
  • Further energy management is facilitated through an excellently implemented preventative maintenance programme of all equipment in the hotel to ensure maximum efficiency, daily monitoring of Heat-Light-Power (HLP) goal-setting for reduction of HLP consumption; energy conservation training for all team members; and exchanging knowledge of best practices at community meetings.

Waste Management

  • An easily accessible area that serves the entire building is dedicated to the separation, collection and storage of materials for recycling including (at a minimum) paper, corrugated cardboard, glass, plastics, and metals to facilitate waste reduction at source.
  • The hotel manages its solid waste by segregating it in all the kitchens of the hotel. Four separate colour coded bins; black, white, green, red are used for separating the waste into wet, dry, recyclable and non-recyclable.
  • The food waste or wet waste is sent out to piggeries to be recycled, and the dry garbage is given out to a recycler for recycling.

Water                                                          

Meluha-The Fern, has employed various techniques to conserve and preserve water.

Water consumption is reduced at source through low-flow fixtures and efficient toilets.

  • Potable water is not utilised for landscape irrigation or air conditioning plant cooling towers. This requirement is met through grey water/STP recycled water. The waste water of the hotel is recycled and further utilised for flushing purposes. This is enabled through a dual-supply plumbing line.
  • All taps are either installed with flow restrictors/aerators or sensors. Shower heads and urinals are equipped with flow control devices and timer-based sensors respectively.
  • Drinking water treatment: water is sterilised in the ultra violet ray filter and passed through a central chilled water system for cooling. This has helped eliminate the need of installing eight water coolers in various outlets.
  • All toilets are water-efficient and meet low-flush standards with a dual flush system of capacities three and six litres per flush.
  • Sewage treatment plant: The waste water of the hotel is treated and then further reused in non-contact areas like the air conditioning plant, flushing gardening and for new constructions within the complex.
  • Groundwater recharge and roof water harvesting is also incorporated in the hotel. During the monsoon, daily flush water and cooling tower requirement is met through roof water harvesting and subsurface collection and pumping.

Indoor Environmental Air Quality          

  • All areas of the hotel have ventilation systems designed to meet or exceed the minimum air quality standard to prevent the development of indoor air quality problems in buildings, thus contributing to the comfort and well-being of the Occupants.
  • Low VOC adhesives, sealants, paints etc. meeting stipulated standards have been utilised.
Meluha - The Fern

Meluha - The Fern

 

Pure Rooms :

While adhering to the highest level of indoor air quality standards, we now offer our guests a new option of Pure Rooms.

19 rooms of Meluha have been certified as Pure Rooms by New York based Pure Solutions.These rooms give our guests the luxury of breathing in a room that is 99 per cent pollution-free. These rooms have been through a patented, 7-step purification process which treats every surface, including the air, removing up to 99% of pollutants to help the guest breathe easy and rest peacefully. The air-purification system protects the guests from air-borne irritants, and eliminates odours at the source, leaving the room feeling fresh and clean. The unique, hypoallergenic mattress and pillow encasements provides soft, breathable coverings for further protection. Carpets, upholstery and all other surfaces are deep cleaned and specially treated. A rigorous maintenance procedure is followed to keep the Pure Rooms allergy-friendly.

Education & Training                                          

We at Meluha The Fern believe our environment is unique and is the legacy our future generations inherit, therefore it is our prime responsibility to protect it. This belief is not only in thought, but is also exemplified in word and deeds.

In our endeavour to conserve our planet, we relentlessly strive to create a paradigm shift towards sustainable thinking by transfer of knowledge and delivering significant societal value through education programmes and community activities.

Our team of employees are the backbone of our environment programme. Hence we are committed to instilling a spirit of environmentalism through a dynamic and interactive training programme.

Employee Orientation/Induction and Training

  • The environment programme of the Hotel is introduced at the Employee Orientation. A formal mention of Meluha’s environment programme is made to all employees, regardless of rank, by the Environment Officer in order to familiarise all new employees with the hotel’s commitment.
  • Refresher Training sessions are also held from time to time for team members after they have joined the organisation. In this way, the sustainable practices of the hotel continue beyond the founding team and are carried out by the staff of the hotel.

Green Team

  • The Green Team is a group of committed individuals who act as the managing body for the hotel’s environment programme. The team consists of team members from each function/department in the hotel.
  • The members are entrusted with the responsibility of monitoring staff to ensure that they adhere to eco-friendly practices. They also host various eco activities for the staff and community.

Events and Community                                

Employee Engagement Activities

Activities with an environmental theme are regularly conducted to spread awareness, empower employees to showcase vocational talent, encourage camaraderie and most importantly celebrate togetherness. Past activities include poster competitions, eco quiz competitions, Wealth from Waste competition, interactive workshops, Eco Antakshari competition etc.

Community Activities

Well publicised ECO events / initiatives / campaigns / information and resources are organised from time to time to involve citizens and enable the practice of more environmentally conscious, economically sustainable, and socially responsible lifestyles and business pursuits. Some past events include Cycle Rally on Car Free Day, Clean-up Drive at Powai Lake after the Ganesh immersion, Vermiculture demos to citizens, switching off non-essential lights during Earth Hour, educating guests about the environment practices followed in the hotel, Eco Ganesha Competitions, environmental awareness with students.

School children are invited to the hotel and educated about the environment-friendly practices followed at the hotel. We assist them with projects as well as practices they can implement at home.

Our Area General Manager-Mr Punish Sharma - an avid environmentalist - also presents our best environment practices at several seminars, colleges, knowledge exchange forums etc. across the country.

All communication and marketing material of the hotel specifically mentions our commitment to the environment.

Advanced Locality Management

The ALM is an identified composite or a locality, the residents and users of which have committed to improving the quality of life in close co-operation and collaboration with the M.C.G.M.

Meluha-The Fern initiated and formed the first ALM (Advance Locality Management programme) in the Hiranandani Township in collaboration with Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. It was set up on World Environment Day-5th June 2011. The ALM members are from the neighbourhood (societies, corporate & malls). The main objective of the ALM is waste management.

All the above initiatives assist us in creating transformational change and deliver significant societal value.

The milestones achieved by Meluha The Fern prove that Responsible Luxury is not an oxymoron. The best practices implemented by Meluha The Fern can be replicated by other businesses to potentially drive change in the current state of the environment, even as they generate economic wealth.

What have been the main benefits of implementing these green initiatives?

Going green has tangible and intangible benefits. The operational expenses are greatly reduced for hotels that strongly implement green initiatives. While the capital expenses will be relatively higher, the savings on a monthly basis on operational costs helps provide an impetus to the bottom line. Intangible benefits include conservation of the environment; motivated employees that experience pride at work; enhanced customer loyalty; stronger relationships with communities and regulatory bodies; and a trusted brand image.

Do you have plans to expand on green initiatives in the future?

Yes. Along with employing resource and emission reduction measures on-site, we are looking forward to giving our guests an opportunity to calculate and offset their individual stay greenhouse gas emissions / carbon footprint.

What would be your top three bits of advice to hotels looking to do the same?

  1. Identify and review the impact your business has on the environment. You can only reduce, what you can measure.
  2. Engrave sustainability in the culture and corporate DNA of the organisation. Involve all the employees. You cannot do it alone.
  3. External certification agencies and consultants have specialised knowledge and experience in sustainability. Ask for help when you need it.

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