Novotel Jaragua: building teamwork for a sustainable property

Novotel Jaragua, Sao Paulo

Novotel Jaragua, Sao Paulo

The AccorHotels Novotel Jaragua Sao Paulo was named Highly Commended in the Americas in the 2017 Green Hotelier Awards. Here General Manager Ewerton Camarano describes his hotel's sustainability journey and how getting the whole team on board has helped them boost their environmental impacts.

Can you take us on your hotel or resort’s sustainability journey? When did it begin? Where are you now?

AccorHotels has always been linked to sustainability. In 2011, the company created Planet 21 aiming to strengthen these policies in its hotels. These practices are positive for everyone in Novotel Jaragua. For example, everybody wastes less food, saves energy, acts in a less harmful way towards the environment, adds value to the brand, pleases customers etc. AccorHotels has achieved very impressive results, considering the savings of water and energy, also reduction of food waste, and relationship with the communities. The company's goal is to strengthen what already exists and continue to implement new things.

Why did you feel it was important to have a sustainable hotel?

AccorHotels is present in more than 90 countries receiving hundreds of thousands of people daily. Being socially responsible or adopting sustainable policies are no longer a simple trend. This has become a necessary reality. At Novotel Jaraguá, we decided to become more sustainable in the area where we are located - center of the biggest city in South America – with a lack of green areas and open spaces. So the challenge was to think and take care of the nature even being so far away from it – which is more difficult when you don’t see much of the impact you generate.

What are the key initiatives that the hotel has undertaken to improve its sustainability?

All actions are part of Planet 21 - AccorHotels program that aims to stimulate the growth of sustainable practices. Currently, our work to achieve these goals consists of:
- Engaging guests
- Constant search for innovation
- Work in partnership with the local community
- Carbonless
- Zero waste, healthier and more sustainable food
- Inclusive company
- Installation of energy control in every guest room
- Installation of water reducer in showers and taps in every guest room and public toilets
- Automation system in place to manage all the devices that have motors and demand big amount of energy, such as air conditioning, elevators and moving staircases. With this automation, we are able to control and reduce in a big scale the use of each machine, save energy and money.
- Installation of heat exchangers, that transforms the heat in the ambiance where he have the boilers into energy to heat the water that goes to the guest rooms.
- Most recently, we started our organic garden, with herbs, vegetables, eatable flowers.

What initiatives have had the biggest impact on your sustainability?

There are some very successful initiatives. For example, guests who reuse their towels help AccorHotels to continue working in the reforestation of Serra da Canastra (in Brazil). Some hotels have solar powered plants. In addition to being clean energy, this saved up to 5,3% of energy costs (globally). And finally, we have gardens in 115 hotels in South America. Food produced there is used by the hotels' own restaurants, guaranteeing the quality of each product.

Do you have any community outreach programmes, can you describe them for us?

Five years ago, the hotel started to support APAF institution - aimed at training women, mothers and housewives for the job market. Employees volunteer of cooking and governance gave classes to them. One of the kitchen collaborators came from the project. For half a year, at least six employees are directly involved.
Also, 11 hotel employees participated in the action "Cidade Linda" of the municipality of São Paulo and contributed to the revitalization of Praça da República and Av. São Luis through cleaning and painting.

AccorHotels has a partnership with the Unibes institution - through Solidarity AccorHotels (a global social program that finances professional training projects around the world). In addition to offering classes with volunteer staff, the hotel welcomes students for one-month technical visits and internships. Currently, the hotel has four employees who were students of Unibes.
The hotel is a meeting point for a free "Walking tour” through the historic City Center, which happens once a month. Hotel guests, guests of other hotels, clients, neighbours, suppliers and employees are welcomed in the tour. Recently, the hotel has collaborated with an organic "Kombi" which sell organic vegetables and fruits to the walkers.

The main benefit for the hotel is certainly the culture we are creating among employees, guests and other stakeholders.

What has been the biggest surprise on your sustainability journey?

In Novotel Jaraguá, I would say is the response and engagement from our teams, which has allowed us to keep moving and implementing new practices, believing that even in adversity, we can do a lot for the environment.

What has been the biggest challenge?

The creation of new habits and the awareness of employees and guests are the main challenges. There is already a tendency to seek more sustainable solutions. When we show that small changes can produce incredible results, of course, we can win more fans.

How have guests and / or business partners reacted to your sustainability programmes?

The demand for sustainable companies is growing. Consumers prefer sustainable companies. Our communication, internal and external, is very strong. Everyone ends up being ambassadors of the cause. This philosophy is a strategic tool to foster loyalty and bring our stakeholders closer.

Is there a stand-out aspect to your sustainability that is unusual or eye-catching or different from other hotels?

AccorHotels South America found the balance between technological and sustainable developments with the Carbon Compensation Project. Created in partnership with Web, IT and CSR teams, the project included extracting data from digital platforms, measuring the CO2 impact emitted by them and calculating the planting needed for neutralization.

According to the data collected, in 2015 there were 143 million page views on the hotels' websites and on the Accorhotels.com site, as well as 339 newsletters and six million clicks on sponsored links, totalling 21 tonnes of carbon. For each ton of carbon dioxide, the company needs to plant three trees. The trees were planted in Peru, to offset carbon emissions. The company chose this reforestation project because it is the only one certified by the United Nations for the compensation of carbon emissions.

Through the reforestation program Plant for the Planet, between 2009 and 2016, AccorHotels planted five million trees, of which 560,000 were in South America.
In addition, the presence of vegetable gardens in the hotels that provide inputs to their restaurants is also something hardly ever seen in the market.

What plans do you have for your hotel’s sustainability in the future?

There are some projects already well under way. A good example is the ecological cardkey that will be used in our hotel and in all the hotels in South America to open the door locks. The ecological cardkey is produced with PVC chips and cartons that do not comply with normal standards for use and therefore can be reused. This is the first time that AccorHotels has worked with this material for this purpose.

In Novotel Jaraguá, we also want to develop even more our vegetable garden in order to produce more quantities and give to our teams and guest more organic and free pesticide products.

In 2017, we will implement our first hive of stingless bees, to produce our own and organic honey that will then be offered for our guest during the breakfast.

Please list any awards and / or certificates your hotel has been awarded for its sustainability.
• Green Globe Certified 
• Earth Check Certified 
• ISO 14001 Certified 
• Trip Advisor – Green Leaders Silver – certification active
• Planet 21 – Gold – certification active

What else would you like to share about your green initiatives?

The brand Novotel decided, globally, that we needed to assume an active role regarding sustainability in the hotel industry. Locally, we were challenged to rethink our operations and to implement some actions, after a benchmarking of what other industries were doing at that time.

Along these years, we learned a lot. In addition, we evolved as a brand, company, team and citizens. Today, we have a complete different perspective of our impact in the society. Of how we can change the way people see sustainability and act to contribute.

Besides the certifications, we accomplished a lot. The main achievement is that our employees are, today, really committed – and now, every project and new action is easily implemented. They care about it and like being an active part of it. Some other great achievements are reduced energy consumption (-3.8% last year), reduced gas consumption (-70% last year), contribution with our community volunteering with NGOs in classes for housewives and students, hired new employees from these social programs and know how to promote an healthier eating with our organic garden.

What tips or advice would you offer to any other hotel in your region which is just beginning the sustainability journey?

First of all, the company needs to be truly aware that being socially and ecologically responsible is paramount and this has to be embedded in the core business of the company. It cannot be treated as a secondary matter. The first step in this direction is the most important thing. In addition, the speech has to be completely in line with practice, and it needs to involve all stakeholders (employees, suppliers, customers, society, etc.).

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