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Copenhagen's world-leading green hotel

20 October 2010 by

Despite having created one of the world's most environmentally friendly hotels at the Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers, managing director Allan Agerholm is eager to point out that he is not a green fanatic.

"Everything we've created here has been done from a purely commercial point of view and will save us a lot of money over time," he explains. "We hope to win market share by being different."

As co-owner of Copenhagen Hotel Management, Agerholm began the development of the 366-bedroom hotel - which opened near Copenhagen International Airport in March 2010 - more than three years ago.

"We wanted to establish an international four-star hotel and decided to brand it as a Crowne Plaza," he says. "We also wanted to establish a unique selling point and decided that creating a truly sustainable hotel was the way forward.

"While it is very nice to be green today, in 10 years time it is going to be a vital requirement of running a business. I think if you are not a sustainable hotel by the end of this decade you will be positively discriminated against. It will definitely become one of the top five reasons why guests choose a hotel in the future."

The decision to embrace the green agenda wholeheartedly, which was taken in December 2008, was initially met with scepticism from the InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG), owner of the Crowne Plaza brand. "I think they were concerned that we would fall into a ‘greenwash trap', as many companies do, and claim to be doing things that later may prove to be unsubstantiated. But since those early days, IHG has come to see the potential of what we have done here," says Agerholm.

David Jerome, senior vice-president of corporate social responsibility for IHG, says the innovations introduced by the Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers have taken it on a journey to become one of the world's greenest hotels. "The hotel is a good example of our approach to sustainability; innovations that don't compromise the guest experience," he explains.

INTELLIGENT LIGHTING

Energy savings are helping to pay for the £4m development costs of the 25-storey building. The intelligent lighting system will last for 10 to 15 years and pay for itself within two-and-a-half years. Meanwhile, the savings gained from the energy produced by the solar panels, which will need to be replaced after about 25 years, will take about the same length of time to pay for.

"Overall, the costs and the savings are fairly evenly balanced, but in the long term the green initiatives will be a good investment as we expect energy taxes to rise, says Agerholm. "We are also totally different from all our competitors, which is driving business to us."

From the guest point of view, there is little to see or experience that identifies the Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers as one of the greenest hotels in the world. And that is the way it should be, according to Agerholm, who worked in the UK for Copthorne/Millennium Hotels, Thistle Hotels and Whitbread for 10 years during the 1990s.

"The most important aspect of what we do is to sell a good night's sleep," he says. "We want to exude luxury; we certainly don't want the green aspect of the hotel to be in people's faces. We don't want a dark and dingy hotel and we don't want anything that is ugly - such as low-energy light bulbs - to be on show."

However, the one aspect of the hotel's efficient energy policy that is visible is the collection of electric bicycles in the foyer, which guests are invited to use to help power the hotel while getting fit at the same time. Any guest who produces 10kWh of electricity on the bikes can enjoy a free meal in the hotel's Nordic restaurant.

"It is a fun gimmick, but it has been quite an eye-opener for guests as it demonstrates very well how much energy is required to produce energy," concludes Agerholm.

ENERGY-SAVING INITIATIVES

â- The hotel's groundwater-based cooling and heating system, located 100m below the surface of the building - the first in Denmark - is expected to reduce the energy used for heating and cooling by almost 90%.
â- The overall result of all energy-saving initiatives is a 53% reduction in the hotel's energy consumption and an estimated 1.4 tonnes annual savings in its carbon emissions.
â- Intelligent lighting in all bedroom corridors dims lighting down to 10% of normal requirements.
â- There is no printed material - all information is delivered electronically to guests via an interactive TV.
â- All food waste is recycled and used to fertilise farm land.
â- All food is sourced from within 300km.
â- The hotel is the first in Denmark to join the UN Global Compact, and it has EU Green Building and Green Key certification.

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