The Lovat, Loch Ness: joined up thinking on reducing carbon

The Lovat, Loch Ness, Scotland

The Lovat, Loch Ness, Scotland

This Best Practice Case Study comes from a remote and beautiful part of Scotland where the hoteliers have thought really hard about their carbon emissions and are reducing them in a variety of ways at The Lovat.

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

The Lovat, as a thriving business, has recognised from initial creation in 2005, the vital correlation of reducing its carbon footprint in relation to saving time, energy & money.  It is continually looking to pin point areas for improvement with the aim to then develop these in conjunction with reducing its carbon footprint.  It is paramount that all activities within the hotel’s operation are analysed, addressed & actioned accordingly so that the business can move forward in its environmental practices.  Our carbon management plan provides us with the opportunity to put additional formal measures in place to reduce our impact upon the environment as well as having a more streamlined approach to carbon management. 

In 2007, the Lovat underwent a massive refurbishment programme with the introduction of a Froling 85Kw biomass woodchip boiler and personalised WiFi computer programme that is interlinked with the PMS, to centrally control the hot water and heating temperatures in all bedrooms, bathrooms and public areas.  This project payback was 4 years and saved on average 60 tonnes of carbon per year.  The hotel then installed a new ETA 195Kw biomass woodchip boiler offering increased efficiency that generates a RHI payback in excess of £20k per annum for the next 20 years.

Acute eco-management has led to incredible environmental advances at the hotel with weekly utility recording as well as monthly supplier coordination, which has allowed us to have a baseline to work from in our target analysis.

The hotel was involved in the first Compost Doctor pilot scheme in the Highlands and was honoured to be a participant of the Carbon Trust’s Carbon Management Programme for SMEs, which has provided strategy to the hotel’s direction.

Other highlights include:

  • being involved in the Business Environmental Partnership for the Highlands;
  • presenting in Slovenia with VisitScotland on Green Tourism in 2009;
  • showcased as a Green Business on the VisitScotland DVD for sustainability;
  • highlighted in a number of case studies; (see Appendix 2)
  • customer testimonials & industry recognition; (see Appendix 3)
  • Industry benchmarking with an interest in our environmental policy (see Appendix 4)

The hotel is highly eco-conscious with an ethos embedded in its everyday operation from staff involvement, community development, recycling, waste control, supplier management and guest communication.  The hotel’s innovative forward thinking has led to it being the inspiration behind ‘Sourcemap’ – the groundbreaking website providing businesses with a means to diagnose and market their customer carbon footprint. 

GH: Why did the hotel decide to become more sustainable? 

For me, sustainability is another word for survival.  It is about sourcing & using local produce, supporting the community & having an eco-conscious outlook on how your business operates daily.  Carbon management drives profitability, internally as well as externally.  Sound environmental performance makes sound business sense and we welcomed the opportunity to develop a plan which heightens efficiency savings for our business.

Not only does our Carbon Management Plan (CMP) assist the business operationally but it also raises critical awareness between our stakeholders.  The hotel is regarded as one of the most forward thinking businesses with involvement in VisitScotland Sustainability, Gold GTBS gaining awards for its resource efficiency (Envirowise) & environmental management (VIBES) which helps to raise our profile, our marketability and the importance to the industry of carbon management in everyday business.

The development of our CMP committed us to the practical target of a 15% reduction in our CO2 emissions by 2016 and provided us with a clear demonstration that we are prepared to contribute to national commitments to reduce CO2 emissions.  

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

Achievements & Implementations

  • Carbon Reward – guest incentives to encourage arrival by public transport or walking/cycling, offering money off their bill when they stay for 2 nights or more
  • Reservation system & central heating room temperature integration with WiFi & centralised computer control (bedroom temperatures dictated by room occupancy throughout the guest’s stay)
  • Trees for Life donation of 15p per guest booking at the hotel for tree planting & team building
  • 11680 litres of food waste composted in our Rocket Composter
  • Landfill reduction from 143,000 litres 08/09 to a forecast 71,500 litres in 12/13, a reduction of 50%
  • Sustainability awareness – using more local suppliers, foraging the local land for wild mushrooms, herbs & fruits
  • Active biodiversity plan – in-house bird & bat boxes, planting of wild flowers
  • Guest involvement – wildlife book & promotion of wildlife holidays
  • Staff involvement & engagement with a designated eco-champion to encourage foraging & eco-practices
  • GU10 LED lighting in bedrooms & bathrooms where possible to replace GU10 Halogens, saving roughly £10.00 per bulb per annum
  • LED candle lamps to replace Compact Fluorescent (CF) candle lamps, saving roughly 75p per lamp per annum
  • Sustainability awareness – producing own flowers, vegetables, herbs & fruits on site
  • LED tube lighting in the kitchen
  • Installed 12w LED bulkhead lighting in the public corridors & back of house offering 30,000 light hours in comparison to the previous 16w energy saving CF D-Lamps offering only 8000 light hours
  • PC monitor switch off on 6 computers
  • Additional GU10 LED lighting in bedrooms, bathrooms & public areas
  • Further waste reduction with a planned 23% decrease in volumes of waste sent to landfill

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?

Summary of carbon reduction projects implemented as part of this carbon management plan

In total all projects have reduced carbon emissions by 73 tonnes, saving £2,208 per annum in real terms by the end of 2016.  The implementation all of projects included in our 5 year carbon management plan cost £7,500 in terms of capital investment.

GH: What has been the biggest surprise on your sustainability journey?

To learn that other businesses are not doing what we do as a ‘normal’ everyday functionality

GH: What has been the biggest challenge?

Recently it has been to fix our Rocket composter…a staff member was putting plastic bags into the machine thinking they were compostable and this is costing us a lot of money, time and effort to fix…it is not a ‘clean’ job!

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

Guests give us some great feedback on our sustainable awareness – I guess we don’t really think about it now as this is a way of life

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

We were the first hotel in the Highlands to have a biomass woodchip boiler installed with bespoke integrated computerised heating and hot water computer programme – the best introduction ever and with RHI, our upgrade to the ETA has been so advantageous - both efficiency-wise and financially.

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

We are focusing on removing palm oil from all our products on offer, already making some positive changes with better interaction with our suppliers and understanding on what they are doing along the supply chain with for example, sustainable palm oil.

GH: Please list any awards and / or certificates your hotel has been awarded for its sustainability.

2007 - Gold GTBS award (first award)

2008 - VIBES Management award

2008 – Envirowise Resource Efficiency award

2012 – Carbon Trust Carbon Management award

2012 – CIS Sustainable Business award

2013 – Catey’s Sustainable Hotel award

2017 - Gold GTBS award (ongoing)


GH: What other aspects of your sustainability would you like to draw attention to?

We have a simple system for ordering new products:

At least 1 of these 3 key questions has to be positive before purchasing items:

  • Is it Scottish?
  • Is it made from recycled products?
  • Is it recyclable?

Statement of Goals

“At the Lovat we are continually monitoring & evaluating our eco-performance, our carbon emissions & our impact on the environment, by driving sustainability”

Short term

  • Continue the monitoring and targeting system that records data on energy use
  • Check and report progress on the actions being implemented via this plan
  • Set and publish performance improvement targets and report performance changes and improvements on a regular basis to staff on the notice board and externally via our website/blog
  • Continue to implement regular staff awareness training, nominating employees to act as departmental energy champions.
  • Establish a budget for investing in energy efficiency

Medium Term

  • Identify future cost-effective energy efficiency measures to implement
  • Arrange continual professional development (CPD) for key staff involved in energy management
  • Consider life-cycle energy costs for all new projects and modifications to existing machinery

Long Term

  • Procure energy efficient equipment
  • To continue to use sustainable energy sources and where possible look to additional sustainable sources e.g. solar lighting
  • Reduce environmental emissions associated with travel (including employee travel to work, food miles and customer travel miles)
  • Establish ownership of energy costs at a departmental level
  • Establish procedures for energy efficient operation of equipment

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

You have to believe it what you are doing otherwise there is no point in even starting to make some changes…if you believe then your team will believe.  Figure out your mission and then work on how to achieve it…think small – don’t over complicate matters.

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