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Categorized | Analysis, Eco-leisure

Earth focus

Rotana, a hotel management company renowned across the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and Eastern Europe, launched its global corporate sustainability platform, Rotana Earth, last month.  Lorraine Bangera speaks with Christiane Abou Zeidan, Rotana’s Corporate Director of Environment, Health and Safety, about the new practices and establishing sustainable business models

“The switch to a ‘green’ business model is definitely where we see the hotel industry heading in the long run” said with Christiane Abou Zeidan, Rotana’s Corporate Director of Environment, Health and Safety.

She agrees it is an obvious move as the benefits of the switch are numerous and very often have a “ripple effect in many different spheres”.

Rotana Earth is a new comprehensive framework which addresses environmental, economic and social sustainability that will be implemented across hotel management giant Rotana’s entire portfolio.  Rotan has 70 hotels and resorts across the Middle East and North Africa.

She said: “A large number of initiatives that have been put in place under the Rotana Earth platform are aimed at energy savings, which translate directly into cost savings. Streamlining our operations in terms of sourcing, procurement and waste management, moving to paperless systems, etc. additionally has made a significant positive impact on our operational costs which is a further endorsement for embracing a greener business model.”

As a result of its sustainable efforts, there has been a positive change in the working of the business. “For instance, we have installed guestroom energy management systems in 92% of our hotels that activate and deactivate the lights using key cards. We have also installed water saving fixtures in more than 60% of our hotels. Eco-friendly IT practices have also drawn a great deal of interest among our teams. Rotana successfully moved its email system to a virtual environment, saving 70% server hardware and achieving a 70% reduction on power and cooling energy consumption. “

When asked about the training programme of the employees, Zeidan said: “An initial sustainability awareness workshop was conducted to create a full vision of the programme and to bring the members to a common understanding of our sustainability programme and their role towards achieving it.
“As for the hotels, we have amended the company structure by adding the Environment, Health & Safety positions to our organisational structure: EHS directors, EHS managers and EHS officers. We have appointed 30 EHS team members to manage the EHS and sustainability programmes in the hotels and to report their performances.”

Involving everyone is key. Suppliers, an important part of any business, should also be jumping on the bandwagon. Zeidan said: “As more companies embrace a more sustainable approach, environmentally aware suppliers will begin to be sort out and have a competitive edge.
“At Rotana, we are currently working on plans to develop a procurement sustainability policy that adds responsible purchasing criteria to the supplier selection programme.”

Detailed information on each key sustainable area, important milestones and success stories for the calendar year 2012 were also released in the latest Rotana Sustainability Report. The report was prepared in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines – the most widely used reporting framework for performance on environmental, social and economic issues. The theme of the 2012 Sustainability Report was ‘Respect Protect’, which was a “fitting metaphor for the journey of respecting and protecting the triple bottom line: Planet, People & Profit that Rotana embarked on.”

Local government has prescribed numerous industry best practices, in an act to be a part of the overall sustainability profile of UAE. In December 2011, Rotana joined Abu Dhabi Sustainability Group (ADSG) which supports its sustainable progress. “ADSG provides the knowledge and information we need to develop our sustainability management systems and our reporting procedures. In fact, we have utilised the Maturity Assessment Tool (part of the Capacity Building programme of the ADSG) to conduct a thorough assessment of our global operations and this has driven many of the recommendations and changes we have adopted or are planning on adopting,” Zeidan added.

Sustainability has risen to the forefront in the region. “In recent years, there has been a significant commitment by governments, utilities companies and public organisations to educate the public and raise awareness on the topic of sustainability and it is one has already got traction in the hospitality industry with many companies choosing to adopt more sustainable practices especially with regard to water and energy consumption, waste management and sustainable sourcing,” she said.

“With Rotana Earth our goal is to make sure that our energy saving, resource and waste management systems are optimized to allow our hotels to operate in a manner that is as eco conscious as possible.”

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