Dubai Hotels Intensify Sustainability Practices Ahead of Government’s July 1 Deadline | Salaam Gateway


DUBAI – Dubai hotels have less than two weeks to comply with the government’s new sustainability requirements after having two and a half years to make the changes.

Although it was a difficult time that left Dubai hotels to rely on domestic tourism amid the coronavirus outbreak, many have managed to make substantial changes to their day-to-day operations.

From food composting and refillable shampoo dispensers to systems to reuse wastewater for irrigation, hotels in the city are taking innovative steps to become more environmentally friendly to reduce their carbon footprint.

“Most of the city’s hotels are already operating with several of these systems in place; the requirements will be put in place to unify the efforts of all hotels towards sustainability and enable all hotels in the city to work together to reduce their energy consumption, ”Yousuf Lootah, vice-president, told Salaam Gateway. president of Dubai Sustainable Tourism.

Dubai tourism 19 sustainability requirements leave no stone unturned, covering everything from the sustainability management approach to customer and employee training, energy, water and waste management plans. They will apply to hotels, resorts, hotel apartments, hostels and college campuses.

OLD COMPANY, NEW WAYS

The mandatory requirements are aimed at improving the environmental performance of the sector to support the government’s goal of reducing carbon emissions by 16% by 2021. They are also expected to boost the competitiveness of Dubai’s tourism-related economy.

The tourism sector is crucial for Dubai; before the pandemic, he contributed $ 27.9 billion (11.5%) of the emirate’s GDP in 2019, against $ 18.7 billion (5.2%) in 2016, according to official statistics.

“It’s good that the government is pushing for sustainability,” Hans-Peter Betz, director of the International Association of Hotel CEOs, headquartered in Dubai, told Salaam Gateway.

“Hospitality is unfortunately a very old business and changing something can be a nightmare. Most hotels were waiting to see if it could be postponed – money was tight for capital spending – but with the new announcement, they need to act now. “

Betz said that while the process might not be easy for hotels, there are a lot of things they can do right away, like forming a sustainability committee, reducing waste and buying locally produced food.

“Many hotels look for local produce and get fresh farm food every morning. Many are trying to compost waste and increase water savings with low-flow shower heads. In addition, the new hotels are all equipped with light sensors at the back of the house, ”Betz said.

“They don’t always have to be expensive technologies; some that you need to invest in, but the return on your investment will be much higher than not, ”he added.

Rotana Hotels and Resorts, which operates 12 hotels in Dubai, responded to the new mandate by integrating sustainability requirements into its existing ISO 14001 environmental management system, Rotana Earth.

“It has not been very difficult for us to integrate the new policies and standards into our existing operations as we regularly report the data required by the DTCM for the calculation of our carbon emissions,” said Mamdouh Ali, CEO of Rose Rayhaan by Rotana, a four-star alcohol-free property in Dubai, said Salaam Gateway.

The company has placed separate garbage cans for guests on each floor of their properties as well as in their kitchens and food and beverage outlets. It also hired waste management companies to recycle waste and replaced room amenities with refillable soap and shampoo dispensers.

“We will also establish the carbon offset program in all Rotana hotels and are in the process of finalizing the partners for the implementation of this program, which will help us to further reduce the carbon footprint,” Ali said.

REDUCE CONSUMPTION

Since the announcement of the sustainability requirements, many hotels have strived to achieve global recognition for their efforts through independent third-party audits.

Today, 20 hotels in Dubai are certified by Green Globe, a global sustainability system and an affiliate member of the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

One of them is the Movenpick Hotel Apartments Downtown Dubai, Green Globe certified in December 2020. The hotel has recently installed a room management system that minimizes energy consumption by controlling lighting and power as well. as air conditioning in the bedrooms.

To save energy, vacant rooms are kept at 25 ° C, dropping to 22 ° C when a guest checks in, and air conditioning units automatically shut off when room windows and balcony doors are left. open. The system increased energy savings by 20 to 50%.

The hotel aims to reduce energy and water consumption by 4% and 2% respectively, and reduce waste diverted to landfills by 8%, Eric Seso, Managing Director of Movenpick Hotel Apartments told Salaam Gateway. Downtown Dubai.

Time Hotels also plans to reduce energy and water consumption in its properties, by 5 to 10% in one year, and has implemented various measures to achieve its goals, such as alternating linen changes in the rooms. rooms and the installation of luminous devices and motion detector systems in public places.

According to the building efficiency accelerator study, prepared by Emirates Green Building Council, the average hotel in Dubai consumes 252 kWh / m2 / year of energy and 1,486 liters / m2 / year of water, while the average resort in Dubai consumes 334 kWh / m2 / year of energy and 1,676 liters / m2 / year of water.

Older hotels and higher-rated properties are likely to use more energy and water per unit area, according to the study, which evaluated data from 85 hotels.

FOOD WASTE

Reducing food waste is a top priority for the UAE and a key part of the new sustainability demands. In 2019, annual food waste in the United Arab Emirates was estimated at 197 kg per person, compared to 95 to 115 kg in Europe and North America, with hotels being the main source of food waste, according to a report by Dubai Industrial Park and The Economist Intelligence Unit.

Food that ends up in landfills also emits methane, a greenhouse gas even more potent than carbon dioxide.

COVID-19 security restrictions have already resulted in buffet options being replaced with more intimate a la carte dinners, but there is still plenty of room for hotels to reduce food waste.

A few hotels have started offering guests the choice of a full or half serving, as well as setting up ‘assisted buffets’ where small amounts of food are regularly replenished, which also ensures that food stays. fresh.

“Our goal is not to waste any food. So we came up with many ideas such as offering half portions, reducing the amount of buffets and promoting our à la carte menus more, ”Mohamed Awadalla, CEO of Time Hotels, told Salaam Gateway.

The hotel company operates six alcohol-free establishments in the United Arab Emirates and has been certified by Green Globe, Green Key and the Dubai Chamber’s CSR label for their commitment to sustainability.

Hotels are finding other ways to meet their sustainability goals. Movenpick Hotel Apartments Downtown Dubai has implemented “smart shopping”, procuring only the food items needed to operate its kitchen.

The initiative reduced the implication of impulse buying which often leads to food waste. In addition, the hotel has experimented with different methods of pickling, drying, canning, fermenting and freezing to extend the shelf life of food.

With current systems in place, Movenpick Hotel Apartments Downtown Dubai recorded 6% higher annual occupancy in 2021, but relatively low utility consumption overall compared to 2019, according to Seso, who runs the new. hotel establishment. Green team established.

Rose Rayhaan by Rotana also recorded healthy occupancy rates of around 80% at the end of 2020 and the recovery in 2021 has so far been good, according to Ali.

Lootah noted that the 19 sustainability requirements will not only help make hotels more economical and energy efficient, but they will also improve brand value in the eyes of guests.

Dubai Tourism first announced the requirements on January 1, 2019, giving hotels 18 months to complete the changes. Due to the pandemic, the deadline has been extended for a further 12 months until July 1, 2021, after which the tourism authority will begin auditing the performance of hotels.

Since the announcement, Dubai Tourism has trained staff at 528 hotel establishments on implementation and compliance. He has also published an electronic manual, 12 steps to sustainability, to provide practical advice on how to implement the new measures.

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