Eco design: Starhotels E.c.ho. Milano

Best Practice Green Hotel

Starhotels E.c.ho. (Eco Contemporary Hotel) Milano recently won recognition for its sustainability at the European Hotel Design Awards 2012.

The 143 bedroom hotel, which was completely converted from a classic urban hotel into an ‘eco hotel’ in central Milan in 2011, won the ‘Sustainable Design’ award at The Sleep Event which took place on 21st – 22nd November 2012 in London.

According to the judges, the Starhotels E.c.ho was considered the best in its category as it not only delivers a sustainable performance but also makes the guest experience sustainable. The hotel’s energy saving figures were impressive, as were the ways in which the guest experience was influenced by a desire to reuse locally sourced materials. Sustainability was regarded as a significant part of the overall guest experience and not just kept to the back of house.

Starhotels E.c.ho. is the result of a complete renovation of Starhotels’ Splendido in Milan. After nine months and an investment of over EURO 13 million, the hotel opened on September 8th 2011. E.c.ho., the first ecological hotel from Starhotels, was designed by interior designer Andrea Auletta, alongside the creative team at Starhotels. The name and concept of the hotel was inspired by nature and to draw attention to current environmental issues. The hotel has an original design, using selected materials with minimal power consumption as well as being extremely comfortable and oozing 'eco-chic' appeal.

The group CEO of Starhotels Elisabetta Fabri says: "In a time when environmental issues and climate change have become a priority for all, Starhotels launches an important message. Even in the global hotel industry, we can apply technologies that tend to contain or reduce air pollution, in full respect of the ecosystem and in line with the objective of curbing climate change. "

Starhotels encourages staff and guest involvement in environmental issues. The company adopts a proactive environmental policy and trains its team in green thinking. Customers have realised that nature lies at the heart of the hotel and this has not compromised on the high hospitality standards – in fact it has enhanced the guests’ experience at the hotel. Guests become so involved that they actually collaborate and are happy to implement green practices during their stay.

Elisabetta Fabri goes on to say, "We are all encouraged to be active in safeguarding the environment. We start at home, with small yet significant actions, so why should it be different when we travel? At Starhotels E.c.ho. Milano upon check-in guests are provided with a key card containing eco-friendly tips to becoming a green guest. This is the first step taken by Starhotels in ‘educating’ guests to green thinking. The key card has a handy, pocket-size format which allows guests to take it with them once checking-out from the hotel and continue ‘acting green’ on an ongoing basis."

The following are some of the most exciting sustainable initiatives going on in the hotel at present:

  • In the winter of 2012, perfectly in tandem with Starhotels’ green philosophy, New York artist Josh Hadar created an eco-friendly art installation at the Starhotels E.c.ho. Milano. ‘Constellation Bonsai’ is a unique, hand-crafted Bonsai tree which converts solar radiation into electricity, enabling 110 LED lights hidden amidst the branches to automatically switch on at sunset
  • The hotel’s Orto Green Food & Beverage restaurant follows a ‘zero-mile’ approach by offering only seasonal, locally sourced produce in its menu. In addition, it features wall lights that recall sunrise, noon and sunset - reflecting the hotel’s symbiosis with nature
  • A bike-hire scheme has been installed near the hotel

And here are all the ways that the hotel stays on top of its eco principle:

Energy & Carbon

  • The hotel uses condensing boilers with high thermal efficiency in order to reduce fuel consumption and reduce CO2 emissions equal to 75 tons
  • In all areas of the hotel, there are energy efficient light sources
  • The hotel has a solar panelled roof that helps illuminate all the corridors of the rooms and public areas, with a saving of 21, 000kWh/a. This corresponds to an annual reduction of carbon dioxide emissions of 11 tons. This, in turn, leads to savings on the electricity bill of around 25%, in addition to the reduction of 130 tons of CO2 into the environment over a period of a year
  • The hotel has introduced column electric car charging stations outside the front entrance
  • The lobby is decorated with original stone-coloured ottoman fabrics made from eco-friendly materials. The small tables are built with fragrant cedar logs certified by FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)
  • The conservatory has energy-efficient walls, high insulating capacity and is capable of shielding the bright light. The ceilings have large hanging lamps made from iron and glass fiber
  • At  reception, an original back-lit ceiling simulates daylight hours that recall sunrise, noon and sunset - reflecting the hotel’s symbiosis with nature
  • Presence detection is implemented so the room lights will turn on when occupancy is detected and off again when occupancy is no longer detected
  • Presence detection in rooms is implemented so that fans/heaters are turned off when rooms are empty
  • Silent, emissions-free, high-efficiency kitchen refrigerators have been installed
  • The hotel features thermal windows with transmittance lower than 1.3 m2k
  • Linen and towels are changed only upon request
  • Bike-hire scheme is now available near the hotel


  • The recovery of used water in the hotel from taps amounts to 20% per annum
  • Low water consumption taps have been installed
  • Grey water is harvested from the system and used for flushing toilets

Interior Design

  • Bathroom amenities such as soaps and liquids are made with essential oils without the presence of parabens and silicones. The packaging is also made from recyclable materials such as HDPE pipe stem (high density polythene), polypropylene caps, bags and polyethylene film, which are all 100% biodegradable materials
  • The table place mats and bread baskets in the restaurant are made from recycled material and are, in turn, recyclable
  • Room floors, corridors and bathroom covering are made from gres certified by 'Live Green'
  • Communal areas and hotel corridor carpets are certified by 'Eco Solution Q'
  • Room wall paper certified by 'Nordic Ecolabel'
  • Room and communal areas upholstery certified by 'Greenguard' and 'E.U. Ecolabel'
  • Communal areas’ fabrics certified by 'Ecolabel'
  • Spring mattresses made of recycled materials


  • All printed paper comes from eco-certified paper with the FSC symbol. The FSC Certification (Forest Stewardship Council) guarantees that a product has been produced using timber sourced from sustainably-managed forests
  • All waste is separated and recycled
  • Recycling or reuse programme in place for materials such as batteries, florescent lighting tubes, bulbs, etc.
  • Partnership with an external eco-friendly laundry service: CL Laundry is an Iso 9004 certified company with low environment impact using 100% biodegradable cleaning products
  • Cleaning products are eco-friendly as certified by Ecolabel
  • Partnership with Onlus 'Gruppo Banco Alimentare' (charity) for food collection from the restaurant, which is donated to local charities
  • Healthy menu both at breakfast and at the restaurant, using organic products
  • Filtered tap water served in sterilized recycled glass bottles

Education & training

  • Starhotels ‘educates’ its guests with an eco-tips leaflet which is handed out to each guest upon arrival
  • Starhotels trains its staff to comply with the green policies which are implemented throughout the hotel

Green Hotelier finally asked Elisabetta, what have been the main benefits of implementing these green initiatives?

  • Green initiatives help to save money and shape the approach on how we become more efficient
  • Starhotels has a corporate responsibility and a strong interest to preserve economic, social and environmental well being. Successfully adopting green policies provides a sense of satisfaction for doing good for the overall community
  • Adopting green initiatives opens up new opportunities to collaborate, develop new sustainable products/activities in tandem with green ideals
  • It adds value to our products and services
  • It has an educational value for those involved, the staff as well as the clients

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

Yes, we are currently renovating the Starhotels Michelangelo Rome, which will become one of the first eco-friendly hotels in the Eternal City.

For more information please see Starhotels E.c.ho. (Eco Contemporary Hotel) Milano

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