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The A-Z of going green

03 October 2007

Once you have committed to going green, make sure you have everything covered. Here's an A-Z of what you might want to consider, compiled by Rosalind Mullen and CESHI (Centre for Environmental Studies in the Hospitality Industry) at Oxford Brookes University

A is for audits

Regular audits are crucial, as they enable you to check whether your business is complying with environmental regulations and see how much energy you're wasting or saving. Hospitable Climates and the Carbon Trust perform these audits, as do many consultants - see www.hospitableclimates.org.uk and www.carbontrust.co.uk.

And, of course, once your audit has been done, you need an action plan. Some businesses set up a team of managers to ensure that policies are carried out - if you put your environmental policy into practice, you're well on the way to saving money and increasing sales.

B is for bathrooms

Be aware of the dangers of harmful chemicals in toiletry supplies. Choose a range of soaps and shampoos that are free from all synthetic preservatives and parabens (allegedly harmful bactericides in skin products). You should find a manufacturer that will accept your used soap and shampoo bottles for recycling.

B is also for best practice - don't forget, we'll publish case studies throughout the month.

C is for cleaning

Most cleaning products - floor and furniture polishes, air fresheners and drain cleaners - contain chemicals and toxins such as formaldehyde, sulphuric acid and petroleum distillates. Besides being linked to skin and lung cancers, hormone disruption and birth defects, they can affect the environment. Washing powders that contain phosphates, for example, can cause algal blooms that kill plant and fish life. Try to use environmentally sound products.

C is also for considerate - the essence of sustainable practice, covering environmental management, sustainable development and customer care. See www.consideratehoteliers.com.

And it's for community support - or corporate social responsibility. Make your business available to charities. For instance, Gordon Campbell Gray, managing director of the One Aldwych hotel in London, is a vice-president of Save the Children, so his hotel hosts fund-raising events. During November and December, both of the hotel's restaurants participate in StreetSmart, whereby £1 is added to each table's bill to raise funds for Helping the Homeless. And last month saw One Aldwych's debut in the London Tree-Athlon, organised by Trees for Cities, a charity that plants trees in urban areas all over the world.

D is for duty of care

All businesses must follow these regulations when disposing of waste, but many of you don't know about them. Free factfiles on saving resources and money in hospitality businesses will be available this autumn from the HCIMA. For your copy, call Olivia Otero at the HCIMA on 020 8661 4932.

E is for energy

Your gas and electricity bills are rocketing, but most hotels can reduce these by as much as 15% by enacting low-cost or no-cost measures - see www.hospitableclimates.com.

E is also for ethical consumerism - according to the Cooperative Bank and New Economics Foundation findings, mainstream consumers have embraced ethical consumerism, which now commands spending to the value of about £25.8b.

F is for food procurement

By purchasing food and supplies locally, you will save mileage, petrol and transport costs and reduce vehicle emissions. According to a July 2005 report from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the amount of food transported annually has increased by 23% since 1978, and more than half the fruit and vegetables we buy in the UK is now imported.

In 2002, food transport produced 10 million tonnes of CO2, amounting to 1.8% of the UK's annual emissions. So buy locally and in season. Your guests will love the fact that you care, so train your staff to inform diners where your fresh, seasonal, British or local food comes from - and highlight it on the menu.

G is for global warming

Increased carbon emissions are said to be to blame for the destructive weather patterns in recent years. According to research published by the Carbon Trust, global temperature will continue to rise, going up by between 1.5¡C and 5.8¡C by the end of the century, which is comparable to the rise that occurred between the most recent ice age and preindustrial-age temperatures. Contact Hospitable Climates and join its free scheme, designed to help you reduce carbon emissions from your business - and save money.

H is for Hippos

These plastic containers are available from water companies and are designed to fit neatly in WC cisterns that are more than 10 years old, saving up to three litres (33%) per flush.

H is also for heat. By turning your thermostats down by 1ºC, you will cut your heating costs by about 3%. If you turn it down by 5ºC for about four hours a day, you'll save 6%.

I is for image

This is vital for your business. Publicise your achievements to get ahead of your rivals. Improving your environmental performance and adopting a corporate social responsibility programme is good for business - as RenŽ Angoujard, general manager of Novotel London West, wrote to Caterer in March: "Our CSR strategy has helped the bottom line."

J is for joy…

… when you and your guests experience top-quality hospitality that doesn't cost the earth - literally.

K is for kilowatt-hour

The name of the game is purchasing your energy wisely - see www.consideratehoteliers.com for your free guide to reducing utility costs in hospitality.

L is for levy

The Climate Change Levy, or carbon tax, has had a significant impact on businesses. Energy bills on non-domestic buildings will be increased from next April, in line with inflation. The levy was introduced in April 2001, increasing energy costs in hospitality businesses by about 15%, and is expected to help reduce CO2 emissions by at least 2.5 million tonnes of carbon a year by 2010. See www.considerate hoteliers.com and www.hospitableclimates.com for help on reducing these costs.

L is also for lights. Remember that about 80% of the UK's lighting is used in work-places, and lights account for as much as half of a building's energy use. Turning off unnecessary lights can reduce the amount of energy used by up to 45%. You could also install a lighting control system, with timing switches set in closets and service areas, as well as occupancy sensors. In addition, convert all lights to long-life and low-energy light bulbs.

M is for minimising your waste…

… and reaping the rewards of lower waste disposal costs. If your business has good access to recycling services, you can reduce waste volumes by more than 40% by recycling glass, cardboard, cans and plastic bottles.

N is for nature

Almost half of European tourists are motivated to travel to enjoy nature, visit unspoilt places and experience clean air and water, so it's in your interest to protect your environment.

O is for organic

Almost everyone understands this label, and demand for organic produce continues to grow. It's now clear that restaurants can offer organically certified food as part of a menu without having to get certification for the entire F&B operation.

P is for profit

Maximise this by reducing energy and water consumption and minimising or recycling your waste.

P is also for passive solar design - if your company is building a new hotel, make sure it uses natural resources such as the sun's heat and uses construction materials that retain it. Use low-toxicity paint, and water softeners to reduce need for harmful antiscale chemicals.

A more radical "passive" technology is that devised by Professor John Forte to harness body heat generated by people working out in health clubs. This can then be recycled to heat water and so on. Lack of uptake means the costs of this technology are high, but once it catches on, costs will tumble.

Q is for quality

Contrary to popular belief, environmental programmes can improve routine maintenance procedures, thereby improving the quality of service.

R is for reduce, reuse, recycle

There are a million ways you can save energy and resources. For instance, buy products in biodegradable packaging (such as eggs in cardboard flats); use both sides of the paper when printing, and remember to reuse envelopes; use food waste in compost; and recycle rubbish by sending packaging, plastic cups, glass and even light bulbs and batteries back to suppliers.

A good example of successful policy is that at hotel, golf course and spa, Matfen Hall in Northumberland. The hotel's green team worked with Morpeth Council to improve their recycling record. As well as glass and cardboard, objects such as printer cartridges are recycled in aid of the Wildlife Trust and other charities, while kitchen oil is used as biofuel. Paper is also recycled and its consumption has been significantly reduced by converting 97% of the hotel's suppliers to an electronic payment system.

For more information, Catering for a Better Future, the HCIMA's fact files on saving resources and money in hospitality businesses, will be available shortly. For your copy, call Olivia Otero at the HCIMA on 020 8661 4932.

S is for SEGOR

Britons spent £25b in 2004 on services and products that had sustainable, ethical, green, organic or responsible (SEGOR) attributes. It's a growing market.

S is also for sea levels. The rise in global sea levels caused by climate change is proceeding faster than UN scientists predicted only five years ago and, according to the British Antarctic Survey, is severely threatening many of the world's coastal and low-lying areas - from Bangladesh to East Anglia.

T is for toilets

Fit a vacuum drainage system such as EVAC, which is similar to the flushing systems found on cruise ships. The EVAC system uses 80% less water than conventional flushing systems, using only one litre of water with every flush (see H is for Hippos). Also, find alternatives to loo cleaners such as bleach.

T is also for towels - guests are increasingly amenable to putting towels on the rail if they can be reused, saving on laundry costs and energy.

And T is for turning off - make sure your managers and staff are trained to comply with your environmental policy in ways such as turning off unused computers, lights, cooking equipment, etc. The Carbon Trust estimates that you could save 10% of your energy costs without any capital investment.

Finally, T is for travelling to work - encourage your staff to travel to work in an eco-friendly way. Set up a plan so that they can share cars, use bicycles or public transport, or walk.

U is for urinals

Do these need to flush continuously? Set them to flush only as required, or use a longer time delay, and your business will save money as well as water. Even better, a waterless system can save £200 per year per urinal.

The waterless urinal was field-tested in nine Little Chef outlets by Professor Forte. Smells are eradicated by creating pipework that remains free of scale, as well as using non-return valves. Three or four companies now market waterless urinals, which are found in hotels, motorway service areas and airport facilities. For more information, log on to www.whiffaway.co.uk.

V is for virtuous circle

Other businesses can use unwanted waste products from your business (see "R", page 34).

W is for water

You can reduce the amount of water you use by making simple adjustments to taps and toilets. Hospitality businesses can save at least 30% on water and effluent costs by reducing leaks and training staff to use water carefully. Contact Envirowise on 0800 585794 to learn more, or see www.envirowise. gov.uk/page.aspx? o=163472.

X is for Xmas

Many businesses now send e-mails instead of cards, and donate the money saved to local charities. Others buy Christmas decorations made from recycled materials.

Y is for "You can do it"

It doesn't require a huge outlay to achieve immediate results. As we have indicated above, even simple actions - such as training staff to switch off lights and use less water - will bring immediate savings.

Z is for zero waste

Last year's winner of the Considerate Hotelier Environmentally Responsible Independent Hotel of the Year, Strattons hotel in Norfolk, is well on the way to achieving this. Only 2% of the total waste it generates goes to landfill, with the remainder being recycled or reused. The initiative has saved about £8,000 on waste disposal costs alone.

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Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

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