Hospitable to green

Written by Sajan C Kumar | Updated: Mar 31 2013, 09:12am hrs
The hospitality industry is one sector that is taking green design seriously. Here are a few examples

"Green a way of life"

For ITC Grand Chola in Chennai, being green is part of the core business philosophy

For the newly-opened ITC Grand Chola on Chennais Race Course Road, green is not just a style statement, but a lifestyle and part of the hotels core business philosophy.

Touted as the worlds largest LEED Platinum green hotel, the Grand Chola integrates efficiency in energy, water and waste management. Apart from the LEED Platinum rating, awarded by the US Green Building Council, the ITC Grand Chola also has a five-star rating under the Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) system, which was developed by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and has been adopted by India as the national rating system for green buildings. In fact, TERI was on board the ITC Grand Chola project as its energy consultant as well.

Says Philippe Charraudeau, vice-president and general manager at ITC Grand Chola, We have taken initiatives in three areasenergy efficiency, water efficiency and indoor environment. Under these initiatives, the hotel will meet 100% of its electrical energy requirements through renewable energy. Efficient fixtures will reduce the hotels water use by 35% compared with international benchmarks, and 100% of the hotels waste will be recycled for useful purposes. Adds Charraudeau, For energy efficiency, design itself is the key. It has been done according to global norms. The envelope materials, comprising composite wall assembly, multi-glazed windows and rooftop insulation, well exceed the fenestration standards of ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) and ECBC (Energy Conservation Building Code).

Prakash Kumar, manager, MEP engineering at ITC Grand Chola, says sustainability practices are reflected in the hotels operations too. About 15% of the operational expenses of a hotel is on energy, and on that count, we are about 44% lower than a conventional five-star hotel. As for water, fresh water requirement for ITC Grand Chola is about 1,050 kl a day, but due to various initiatives of saving, harvesting and recycling water within the premises, we are able to curtail that demand to as low as under 550 kl a day, he says. In fact, water saving across all ITC hotels stands at an impressive 40-45%.

Though all ITC luxury hotels have a LEED Platinum rating, following ITC Grand Cholas example, all consequent ITC hotels will now seek a GRIHA rating as well, says Kumar. ITC Grand Chola will also seek a LEED rating in the Existing Building (EB) category once the property is eligible for it, he adds. The LEED EB system looks closely at the operational aspect of the building in terms of sustainability, not just at the design and construction, considered primarily for new constructions.

Experts say in the long run, operations form the biggest part of a propertys impact on environment. The bigger challenge for hotels is operations. The amount of energy and water consumed, and waste generated by a hotel is usually more than other regular commercial buildings. Thats why ITC has gone for all Existing Building certifications. An EB rating is basically to differentiate between the design, construction and operations. It is about the delivery on the promises made during the design and construction stage. When you say it is a green Existing Building, you are basically talking about the real conservation and sustainability practices with regard to operations that are actually happening, says Tanmay Tathagat, adviser, Environmental Design Solutions.

Constructed at a cost of R1,200 crore, the five-star deluxe category hotel will achieve savings of over 40%compared to a conventional hotelby installing these energy efficiency features.

The hotel also owns a wind farm of 12.6 MW capacity to cater to 100% electrical energy demand. We will give the power thus produced to the TNEB (Tamil Nadu Electricity Board) grid and draw an equal volume from them for our use, says Charraudeau. To optimise energy saving, a programmable heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) control called Hartmann loop has also been installed. This will enhance energy efficiency by 20%a first in the country.

ITC Grand Chola also takes great care to maintain the indoor air quality. The CO2 sensor-based fresh air handling units, operated by the Integrated Building Management System (IBMS), lead to optimum guest comfort. Close to 25% of the domestic hot water requirement is met through solar concentrators. Programmable, computerised lighting controls provide mood lighting in restaurants and public areas, thereby saving electrical energy.

Water-cooled refrigerants in the kitchen refrigeration equipment, instead of air-cooled equipment, also save energy.