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GH: Can you take us on your hotel or resort’s sustainability journey? When did it begin and where are you now?
RV: Our journey began when the hotel opened in March 1999 and continues today. Although the hotel had a green committee established much earlier, we pulled resources together in 2011, with more involvement from the Director of Engineering, Department Heads and the GM. Each department has its own energy action plan and ‘Green Team’ monthly meetings encourage an exchange of ideas, initiatives and goals.
We wanted to do more and be creative with our solutions. We came up with ideas as a team, and as these ideas were implemented we began to see the positive results. This has spurred us on to be more committed to our sustainability projects.
GH: Why did the hotel decide to become more sustainable?
RV: Sustainability has always been a focus from Marriott International who set clear goals on saving energy, reducing water and using sustainable resources. And we as a hotel were happy to be creative and build awareness of this to our hotel team, guests and community. Marriott International made great steps by creating a new position within the Engineering discipline of Director of Energy and Engineering and introduced new portals to share best practices on the Planet Europe website - Planet Marriott Europe.
GH: What are the key initiatives that the hotel has undertaken to improve its sustainability?
RV: The initiatives we’ve taken to reduce our carbon footprint and positively impact our community have involved many innovative programmes and had a great impact on guests and media.
Energy: In the last five years combined energy consumption shows a steady reduction of 8% and carbon emissions have reduced by 12%. Big savings were achieved with LED lighting, not only in bedrooms, but in the car park too, including the spotlight on the façade.
Water: In the last five years we have focused on some great water savings initiatives such as GRANULDISK commercial pot washer in 2015, which saves annually two million litres, showing these initiatives have a real impact.
We are the first Marriott to partner with GRANULDISK. This new technology has saved 92% of water used in the kitchen. Using abrasive PowerGranules, water and a small amount of detergent, the blasting power of Granuldisk technology, combined with high temperatures uses less water, energy and chemicals than traditional pot washing methods.
Additional initiatives taken to save water:
From 2011 up to the end of 2015 saved 30% in water consumption.
Waste: Reducing waste is one of our primary concerns and we have taken many innovative steps to reduce this in all areas of the hotel:
GH: Do you have any community outreach programmes and if so, can you describe them for us?
RV: We take many innovative approaches to support the local community including a recent partnership with the global leader in soap recycling, Clean the World. We and are the first hotel in Europe to partner with them. Soaps and toiletries are re-processed by the organisation into re-sanitised soap bars and toiletries and then distributed to shelters in local areas. This has had a positive impact on guests and community.
The hotel took part in an important conservation project with Hillingdon Council’s Green Spaces to help plants and wildlife flourish. 600 meters of Himalayan Balsam was cleared from Yeading Brook in Ruislip. The team was joined by Mayor of Hillingdon.
The hotel works closely with WWF’s annual event ‘Earth Hour’ for awareness of climate change. Lights are turned off for an hour and a ‘glow show’ is put on for the local community. WWF value our contribution, sending a film crew to cover the event and feature us on their website.
We have also started work with Green Corridor, London's leading learning organisation using horticultural based training to unlock potential in young people. The charity links young people with the environments around them, engaging them in volunteering programmes.
We’re also fundraising for the Princes’ Trust via You Eat, We Give which adds £1 to the bill in restaurants. We’re also undertaking a ‘London to Rio’ sponsored walk and bike ride inspired by the Olympic games in Brazil this year.
We are working with Project Search, providing a year round on-property training with teachers and coaches for 12 young people with learning disabilities. We will be the first Marriott hotel to offer the programme in the UK.
We also provide:
GH: What has been the biggest surprise on your sustainability journey?
RV: We have been pleasantly surprised that our initiatives have captured everyone’s heart. Within the team there’s a lot of willingness to improve. And now as we are seen as a hotel who like to test new initiatives it is nice to meet up with suppliers of sustainable products / machines who like to use us as a pilot.
GH: What has been the biggest challenge?
RV: As the investment can be expensive and the benefits sometimes only show in the long term, justifying the need for specific equipment or taking up certain projects can bring up challenges. However, thorough research has meant that we are heading in the right direction with all our projects.
GH: How have guests and / or business partners reacted to your sustainability programmes?
RV: When we tour our hotel with conference organisers we always share our vision and passion for our sustainability initiatives, and of course show our roof-top greenhouse with a tremendous view on the airport; a real gem, which creates a real bond with them.
GH: Is there a stand-out aspect to your sustainability that is unusual or eye-catching or different from other hotels?
RV: Our ‘Glow Show’ event for WWF Earth Hour. We create awareness of climate to our guests, hotel teams and local community by putting on a lively show in the lobby. Energetic hotel staff adorn themselves in multi-coloured glow lights, brightening up the darkness as they dance with hotel guests and visitors. For an hour the lobby of the London Heathrow Marriott is transformed into a huge dance floor, to display a fantastic array of glowing colours. We have supported Earth Hour for many years by turning off the lights in all public areas for an hour and asking our guests to do the same in the bedrooms. The ‘Glow Show’ is our way of raising awareness of the effects of climate change to our local community and having fun at the same time.
Among the initiatives that have been most innovative, are the installation of a Hybrid Windmill & Solar Power System on the hotel roof to power the hotel’s Marriott LED sign and building a greenhouse on the roof of our hotel.
We are the only Marriott hotel in the whole world (4,200 hotels) that powers a Marriott sign in this way. By using this technology we have saved over 6387 KWH of electricity and £1240 in a 12 month period. Savings in carbon emissions amount to 4.0 tons per year. The cost for this system was £4706.00 which can be recouped in 3.8 years. The maintenance bills for the old system over 5 years was £2750 where the maintenance bills for new system over 5 years is £0.00.
The greenhouse supplies herbs and tomatoes to the hotel restaurant and bars. As they are locally grown it saves costs and transportation, lowering our carbon footprint. Installed in 2012, the cost for greenhouse was £2600.00. It saves the hotel around £5.00 per day which results in savings of £1825 per year. This has meant that the greenhouse has paid for itself in 1.5 years. It is also a great talking point with guests who are intrigued when they learn that the tomatoes in their salad came from the roof of the hotel!
GH: What plans do you have for your hotel’s sustainability in the future?
RV: Looking ahead we are working towards hydroponic roof gardening, creating job opportunities via Project Search, and we hope to have a Best in Class workshop again for associates of other Marriott hotels.
GH: Please list any awards and / or certificates your hotel has been awarded for its sustainability.
We take this opportunity to work in collaboration with external experts to look for new initiatives and suggestions on making further improvements and energy savings
GH: What tips or advice would you offer to any other hotel in your region which is just beginning the sustainability journey?
RV: Our tops tips are get a good team together and listen to everyone’s ideas. Don’t be afraid to be imaginative and creative, but above all have fun!