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India’s eco pioneer: The Orchid, Mumbai

The Orchid Hotel, Mumbai [1]

The Orchid Hotel, Mumbai

The Orchid, has been a pioneer in exhibiting innovative environmental systems since its inception in 1997.

Under the leadership of its Executive Chairman and Managing Director, Dr Vithal Kamat the Orchid has created a benchmark for environment standards in the hospitality industry in India.

The Orchid is a recipient of 80 international and national awards. The most recent accolade being the prestigious The Times of India Earth Care Award 2012 for excellence in Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation.

We recently spoke with Aldrina Fernandes, Environment Officer of The Orchard to find out in more detail about their sustainable initiatives.

Waste

Energy & Carbon

Energy efficient designs and systems have been integrated into the hotel from its very foundation.

By saving an average 99,344 units of electricity per month The Orchid Hotel prevents 2, 12,596.16 pounds of CO2 equivalent emissions going into the atmosphere each month.

Water

The Orchid is mindful of the fact that merely 3% of the water available on the earth is fresh water. With the current projected water demand in the country it is of utmost importance to conserve, utilise and manage this vital resource in a sustainable manner.

In order to mitigate the negative impact on freshwater depletion due to its operations, The Orchid has adopted a three fold strategy:

(a) Minimise the consumption of fresh water through installed systems and system aligned practices

(b) Eliminate discharge of waste water by treating and recycling all waste water

(c) Create awareness of water use among the employees and within the community

The Orchid’s endeavour towards sustainability include instilling awareness among employees as well as the community at large, on environment issues including water conservation and preservation

Education & training

Environmental awareness amongst the team members is imperative for the hotel to sustain its commitment to the environment. Consequently, training programs and activities for team members are conducted on a regular basis.

The Green Team comprising of 2 members from all the departments of the hotel conduct awareness events including lots of competitions, screening documentaries about environmental issues and setting up interactive sessions with other organisations like Sanctuary Asia, Green Peace and the NGO Sharan.

The induction program for the new team members includes a session from the Environment Officer who briefs the team of the hotel’s environmental systems. Team members are also shown the documentary 'Cutting Carbon Footprints' during this training program. Therefore, the team is well-versed with critical issues that face the environment and are motivated to bring about change not only at the workplace but at home. Refresher Training sessions are also held regularly.

Events

We believe we have an important role to play in educating and inspiring individuals to become responsible stewards of the environment. In alignment with this belief we organise several social programs yearly. Past year events include plant and vermicompost distribution, beach clean up drives, Wealth out of Waste Exhibitions, plantation drives, street plays, running awareness sessions for schools, nature trails and landscape restoration.

Some of the events conducted are enlisted below:

Nirmalya Composting Initiative:

For the last 18 years, The Orchid Hotel and the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) embarkED on a Nirmalya Composting Project during the Ganesh Festival in Mumbai. ‘Nirmalya’ refers to offerings that are made to Lord Ganesh which include garlands, sweets, fruits, coconuts etc. To ensure that this Nirmalya does not end up as waste on beaches, rivers, roads, landfill sites etc. The Orchid and the MCGM conduct a major collection drive in Mumbai. The collected Nirmalya is segregated and put into vermiculture pits to compost using earthworms.

Beautification of Mumbai with 18 gardens:

The Orchid has also spread greenery all across Mumbai by maintaining 18 gardens in the city. The Orchid has adopted gardens and traffic islands around the city for beautification purposes and to improve the overall environment of Mumbai. Plants and trees act as carbon sinks and remove harmful toxins in the air. They also are aesthetically pleasing to the senses and therefore improve the social well being of the people in the city. We have also developed the first butterfly garden in Mumbai underneath the Bandra-Mahim flyover which has an area of approximately 2,500 square feet.

Environmental awareness sessions for schools at The Orchid Hotel, Mumbai [2]

Environmental awareness sessions for schools at The Orchid Hotel, Mumbai

School student Visits to the Hotel:

The Orchid is one of the few hotels to spread environmental awareness to students of schools and colleges. Schools and colleges are invited to The Orchid where they are taught about various environmental issues like solid waste management, energy efficiency and water conservation and preservation. They are also shown around the hotel premises where they learn about various systems such as vermiculture, 4 bin segregation system, water saving measures, and other environmental practices being implemented. 

Advanced Locality Management:

The Orchid spearheaded this programme, run by the MCGM. Under this programme the residents of an area contribute towards the cleaning maintenance and security of a part of the city. It was The Orchid's initiative  and  drive  to get together  five  neighbouring  hotels,  offices,  taxi drivers  and  shop owners  to  adopt  the  programme.

World Environment Day (5th June 2012) and Earth Day Celebrations (April 22nd 2012):

Every year The Green Team of The Orchid celebrates Earth Day and World Environment Day to spread environment awareness and increase appreciation of our planet.

And finally here's the Orchard's top 3 tips for hotels looking to do the same:

For more information go to www.orchidhotel.com [3]