ITC Hotels in India have been practicing sustainability since 1988. Green Hotelier caught up with Niranjan Khatri, General Manager WelcomEnviron Initiatives, ITC Hotels to discover more about their long history of green initiatives.
ITC Hotels in India is a bit of a pioneer when it comes to sustainability. What has influenced this? How has it come about?
ITC hotels took its first step towards becoming a green hotel chain in 1988, a long time before it became ‘popular’ for hotels to promote their eco credentials.
What is the business case for hotel chains to embrace sustainability?
Almost all industries in today’s world consider and implement the use of natural resource in their on-going daily operations. It’s no longer an option, it’s a must. Resources are not endless and we live in an over populated world. We must act now to secure a future for the next generation. ITC Hotels takes this very seriously, water consumption has been reduced by 60%,energy consumption by approximately 20% and five of ITC’s hotels have decarbonised their operations by using wind energy. In addition, ITC Hotels are the first chain to be certified platinum rated by US Green Building Council, a non-profit organisation dedicated to sustainable building design and construction.
Explain when and how ITC has achieved its carbon and water neutrality?
ITC Hotels has been water positive for the last 11 years and carbon positive for eight years. On both counts ITC Hotels has reduced its consumption and sources by 41% of its total energy requirements to renewable energy. ITC Hotels has also been responsible for over 142,000 hectares of afforestation.
What are the most innovative sustainable practices going on in ITC hotels at the moment?
- The chain has 11 LEED platinum rated properties in India
- Five of the hotels operate on wind energy; the largest self owned wind farms (29.5 MW) by any hotel chain in the world, for captive consumption – ITC Gardenia & ITC Windsor, Bengaluru, ITC Rajputana, Jaipur, ITC Maratha, Mumbai and the all new integrated Luxury Hotel Complex in Chennai - ITC Grand Chola
- Multi glazed energy efficient windows minimising solar heat gain and thus reducing air conditioning load
- Use of LED light fixtures in the guest rooms and public areas – for energy efficiency
- Water efficiency in air conditioning systems - 100% reduction in water consumption for AC usage
- As much as 60% of room stationery and consumables used are either sourced locally, certified or with recycled content
- Low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paints and certified wood are used in guest rooms and public areas
ITC Sonar, Kolkata
- The first hotel in the world to be registered with United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for improvement in energy demand in building sector as Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project under the Kyoto protocol
ITC Maurya, New Delhi
- The only hotel chain using the largest and first on-site Paraboloid solar concentrators; a first in the global hospitality industry
ITC Grand Chola, Chennai
- World's largest LEED Platinum Certified Hotel in the New Construction category
ITC Gardenia, Bangalore
- Shrinks guest’s carbon footprint by over 60% when they chose to stay there
- Wind cooled lobby
- Vertical gardens
What do individual hotels and hotel staff get most excited about when it comes to sustainability?
Both environmental and social responsibility are included as part of ITC Hotels triple bottom-line philosophy. This means that we want to create a sustainable future for the environment but they’re also working towards a sustainable future for the local communities where the hotels are based. As part of this vision, over the last two years the chain has employed over 300 people with disabilities.
The scheme has been such a success that the chain has written two books which have become industry best practice and act as a guide for those wanting to follow in our footsteps. All staff from head office to on-the-ground operations are involved and incredibly proud of all that’s been achieved with this scheme in the last two years.
What’s next for ITC in India how is it going to continue to push the sustainability boundaries?
We learn something new each day. All our hotels are constantly sharing ideas and best practises; therefore we’re constantly learning and developing new ideas. When something is successful we look to learn from its success and apply it in other hotels. It’s also important that we communicate with all our stakeholders from staff to guests, even sharing our successes with other hotel chains.
For ITC Hotels sustainable development is a journey and not a goal, as responsible corporate citizens, we recognise our commitment towards maintaining a greener and healthier environment. We created WelcomEnviron, which is our vision for a green world. It's a multi-faceted programme created to propagate environmental causes in the cities where ITC Hotels are located. The guiding principle is 'Reduce, Reuse and Recycle'. Each hotel has its own programme, encompassing local participation, creating awareness among employees and internal conservation through energy-saving gadgets and environment-friendly material. Our guests are also encouraged to be a part of our campaign, 'Give back as much as you take from the environment'.