The EU SWITCH Asia Program Greening Sri Lanka Hotels (GSLH) Project recently released their first research survey of a cross-section of Sri Lankan hotels, which analyzes the extent of green practices being implemented in hotels. It is the first survey of such sustainability consumption practices in hotels ever done in Sri Lanka.
The GSLH Project is a European-funded project under the SWITCH Asia Program, and administered by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. The project is designed to enhance the environmental performance of Sri Lankan hotels through improvement of energy, water, and waste management systems and reduce cost of operations and increase market acceptance of Sri Lankan hotels through promoting them as low-carbon footprint green hotels.
The project creates awareness on sustainability among hotels all over Sri Lanka. It provides consultation and technical inputs to identify areas for improvement and quantify the savings. The project also provides work force training and resource management interventions. From the 350 odd hotels registered with the project, data is collected for analysis and bench and marking. The project has also published a handbook on Good Practice Guidelines on Environmental Management for Sri Lankan Hotels and a Quick Guide to Sustainable Energy and Environmental Design for New Hotel Construction in Sri Lanka.
For the 350 odd hotels already registered with the project, more than 140 walk-through audits have been conducted and 10 Resource Management/Review Workshops have been held in different regions of the country.
The EU SWITCH Asia Greening Sri Lanka Hotels Project was adjudged the winner in the category of Educational Programs & Media at the 11th Skal International “Sustainable Development in Tourism” Awards, presented during the opening ceremony of the 73rd Skal World Congress on October 3, 2012 in Incheon, South Korea. The award recognized the outstanding training, leadership, and commitment to sustainable tourism principles and practices delivered through project activities.
BASIS OF THE RESEARCH STUDY
• This research study was carried out to study the implementation of green practices among the tourist hotels in Sri Lanka by analysis of the establishment data collected from 276 hotels (a sample of 78% of the total registered hotels), from all touristic regions and a cross section of sizes.
• The green practices of hotels identified covered energy usage, water usage and waste management practices.
• Aspects of green energy usage covered were efficient lighting, efficient air conditioning, solar water heaters, biomass boilers, key switches, power factor correction and alternate power.
• Installation of dual flush toilets, low flow showers and taps, linen and towel reuse, availability of sewage treatment plants, solid waste segregation and biogas plants were the aspects of green practices in water use and waste management covered.
FINDINGS OF THE STUDIES
• The study revealed that the most commonly adopted green intervention is energy efficient lighting.
• More than 80% of the hotels have partially or completely switched to CFL and LED lighting from incandescent lighting, the smaller hotels having nearly completely switched, while most of the larger hotels are in the process of gradual switching, due to the larger numbers to be replaced.
• In contrast, only 10% of all hotels use energy efficient air conditioning. Most hotels have very old inefficient air conditioning plants.
• However, air conditioning is relevant to only about 40% out of the total number of hotels in the sample studied, as those in the colder climates do not require air conditioning and the smaller hotels in the East coast do not offer air conditioning due to the level of operation.
• Solar water heaters are quite common (nearly 50%) in the larger hotels, whereas it is not considered affordable by the smaller establishments, where less than 20% have installed them.
• Key switches are also quite common in the larger hotels (64%) while only a few (12%) of the small and medium scale establishments have invested in them.
• As for the installation of capacitor banks for power factor correction, it is relevant to only the larger establishments that use 3 phase power, and nearly 50% of the hotels in that category have invested in them, in order to reduce the KVA loading and hence the electricity bills. Some of the medium scale hotels also have resorted to this intervention.
• Use of alternative green energy sources such as Biomass boilers using cultivated wood, mini-, micro, and pico-hydro power, solar PV and wind energy is not very well established in the hotels yet, perhaps due to the uncertainly of sourcing of raw materials, high investment and long payback periods and unreliable technical support.
Water and Waste Management
• Small capacity dual flush toilets are gaining popularity in both large (54%) and SME (59%) sector hotels, although the replacement of existing high capacity fixtures is not warranted due to long payback periods.
• 43% of the large hotels were found to have installed low flow taps and showers, while only 13% of the SME hotels have done so. Towel and linen reuse programs are in operation in 23% of the larger hotels and only 2% of the SME hotels.
• Overall, the adoption of green interventions for water conservation is not very high, the main reason being the availability of water at relatively low cost in most areas of the country, resulting in less attention being paid to water conservation and lower priority for investment on water saving devices.
• The scenario is somewhat better in the case of waste management, particularly in the large hotel sector, perhaps due to the regulatory requirement and enforcement by the environmental authorities, and grant and subsidy schemes that were available for installation of sewage treatment plants in the recent past.
• 92% of the large hotels have their own sewage treatment plants, and the balance is connected to the city sewers or common treatment plants.
• Solid waste management is also happening to some satisfactory degree in 77% of the larger hotels.
• However, the situation is not satisfactory in the SME sector, with only 17% of the hotels having sewage treatment plants and only 27% having systems for solid waste segregation with some recycling and reuse of components.
• Biogas systems are available in a few large and SME sector hotels and the popularity of these appear to be increasing, due to the availability of better operating systems and technical support, made available through the GSLH Project.
• On an overall basis it appears that Sri Lankan hotels are carrying out good greening practices, although the situation could improve by more hotels adopting these interventions.
• A reasonably good proportion of the hotels surveyed are practicing good energy management initiatives, particularly in the areas of lighting and solar water heating.
• However, water management is somewhat lagging, and waste management also needs to be improved.
• Most Sri Lankan Hotels are thus now becoming aware, that adopting good ‘green practices’ is not only vital for operational cost management and profitability enhancement, but also as a good marketing tool.