LEED Platinum: ITC Grand Chola

ITC sustainable best practice

In September ITC Hotels opened Grand Chola in Chennai, creating the world’s largest LEED Platinum rated hotel. Last week we spoke to the Vice President and General Manager, Mr Philippe Charraudeau to get more information about the hotel's eco initiatives.

‘ITC Hotels' green initiatives started life as "Welcomenviron" way back in 1993. Now all of ITC's Luxury hotels are LEED Platinum rated, making it one of the greenest luxury hotel chains in the world and a true pioneer of the movement in India.’ Mr Charraudeau explains, ‘ITC Grand Chola's parent company ITC Limited strongly pursues all aspects of environmental protection. The company has triple bottom lines (Economic, Environmental and Societal). ITC Hotels is a division of ITC Limited and hence all policies flow through its actions. ITC Limited is one of the very few corporates in India who voluntarily bring out their Sustainability Reports every year in total accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The commitment to sustainability and years of efforts have resulted in the company being the only one of its size to be Carbon Positive, Water Positive and Waste Recycling Positive.’

ITC Grand Chola achieved the LEED Platinum Rating for New Construction category in August 2012 making it the world's largest LEED Platinum rated Green Hotel. The hotel is the flagship of the ITC Hotels group and was constructed in line with the ITC Hotels policy that all its new hotels will be green buildings of the highest rating.

When asked what exciting sustainable initiatives are being implemented at the moment, Mr Charraudeau explains that ‘the most innovative thing is that our existing hotels are all on the verge of attaining "Zero Discharge into Sewers" status, which means that no waste water will be discharged into sewers. This is achieved by using sewage treatment plants, which treat the waste water to almost potable quality. The treated water is recycled into the building for horticulture, cooling towers and toilet flushing. The remaining good quality treated waste water is given to neighbouring compounds, municipal agencies, etc. for their horticulture needs. At ITC Grand Chola the same is being done. The excess treated waste water will soon flow into the neighbouring golf course (The Madras Golf Course). This will minimise their dependence on ground water and in turn preserve the ground water levels in the area.’

Sewers aside, here is a list of some of the key eco measures that have been taken at ITC Grand Chola:

Energy & Carbon

  • Self-owned wind farm of 12.6 MW capacity to cater to 100% electrical energy demand of the hotel
  • The envelope materials comprising composite wall assembly, multi-glazed windows, and roof top insulation, well exceeds the standards of ASHRAE (www.ashrae.org) / ECBC (Energy Conservation Building Code)
  • A programmable HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) control called the Hartman loop has been installed to increase the efficiency of the system by 20%, for the first time in the country
  • CO2 Sensor based fresh air handling units operated by IBMS (Integrated Building Management System) leads to optimum guest comfort, while saving energy
  • Digital Valet System ensures customized room climate controls and prevents wastage of energy
  • Fully automated energy efficient boilers with O2 trimming for enhanced efficiency and low fuel consumption
  • 25% of the domestic hot water requirement is met by Solar Concentrators
  • Programmable computerised lighting controls to provide for the mood lighting in the public areas and the restaurants. Hence, saving electrical energy
  • Water cooled refrigerants in kitchen refrigeration equipment in place of air cooled equipment to save energy
  • The CO monitoring based jet fan ventilation system of the basements compared to a conventional ducted system will save energy

Water

  • External previous areas and green roofs along with water harvesting structures will retain 100% of storm water catchment onsite
  • 100% of the irrigation, flushing, and cooling tower requirements is met through treated effluent
  • Use of water efficient fixtures will reduce the building water use by 35% compared to conventional benchmarks
  • The landscape area has carefully chosen native, adaptive and low maintenance vegetation species to minimize water requirement. Further, shading of ground covers by trees helps reduce evaporation losses thus reducing water consumption
  • Drip irrigation and timer based controls for operating the irrigation valves further eliminates the wastage of water
  • In laundry, the water from last wash is used for the pre-wash of the subsequent cycle. Further, use of low alkaline environmental friendly washing liquids helps reduce run time and saves water

Education & training

Basic Environment Awareness training is mandatory for all. New joinees are taken through a two day session and retraining is done for all existing employees once a year. Annual increments are subject to an employees successful completion of the same. Specialised training on subjects like energy, water, pollution control and prevention, environmental legislation and beyond, LEED standards, etc. are imparted to focus groups.

Events

We religiously celebrate events like World Environment Day, World Water day etc, during which special awareness sessions by internal and external faculties are held. Mass afforestation, training of members of community/schools, exhibitions etc are held.

And finally we asked, what have been the main benefits of implementing these green initiatives?

'Our commitment to "Responsible Luxury" is strongly maintained through these initiatives. It’s great to know that we’re making long term environmental and economic benefits to the hotel and its stakeholders, including neighbours. It is also important for us to have a leadership role and image within the 'Green Movement' among hotels in Chennai and the country.'

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

'Of course yes. Like we have done in other cities, our hotel will go beyond all legislative requirements and hence influence the authorities in raising the bar. We benchmark ourselves against the world's best standards.'

What would be your top 3 bits of advice to hotels looking to do the same?

  • There is no running away from the responsibility to the environment
  • Do not look only at short term financial benefits but look at your environmental and social responsibilities too
  • Green efforts do make economic sense

For more information about ITC's responsible policies go to ITC Responsible Luxury

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