‘Growth of green buildings in hospitality to continue at a strong pace’

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Green Business Certification Inc (GBCI) has provided many leading hotels in India with LEED certification. Gopalakrishnan Padmanabhan, MD – APAC & Middle East Markets, GBCI speaks about the increasing acceptance of LEED certification by the luxury hospitality segment

How do you perceive the adoption of green practices in India’s luxury hospitality segment ?

The adoption of green certification is increasing across sectors. In addition to commercial buildings other industry segments like residential buildings, factories, hospitals, retail, data centres, metros, airports and ports are also getting into the Green movement. We also have LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) for cities.

spotlight-2In the hospitality segment, there has been a growing acceptance and implementation of LEED by luxury hotels in India. LEED is essentially the certification hotels opt for. We have certified several hotels in India including Jaypee Vasant Continental, The Leela Palace and Hyatt Regency. In addition, ITC Hotels has committed its entire chain to the highest standards of global green buildings, with their entire portfolio of hotels certified as LEED Platinum, proving that green building and luxury accommodations can indeed go hand in hand. The ITC Chola in Chennai is the largest LEED Platinum hotel in the world, while the ITC Maurya in Delhi has installed the world’s largest solar concentrators in the hospitality sector. Fifty-five per cent of ITC’s total energy demand across all properties is met through renewable energy sources.

A recent study by McGraw Hill Construction also points to the growth of green building in the hospitality sector: green construction has increased by 50 per cent from 2011-2013 and now represents 25 per cent of all new construction today. USGBC’s recent Green Building Economic Impact Study also found that across industries, green construction is outpacing that of traditional construction and is poised to create more than 3.3 million US jobs and US$ 190.3 billion in labour earnings by 2018. These trends show the growth of green building in hospitality is expected to continue at a strong pace. This new direction represents an important milestone for the industry.

For a hotel, what are the distinct advantages of your certification (vis-a-vis others) ?

Hotels and other hospitality venues have a significant opportunity to reduce negative environmental impacts associated with guest rooms, event space, and general facility use through measures such as energy and water efficiency, waste reduction and management, sustainable and local purchasing, and use of alternative transportation.

The 2016 LEED hospitality report also highlighted how LEED practices and strategies are flexible, easy to implement, generate impressive results and can be integrated into the hospitality industry throughout the building’s life cycle, leading to high-performance in human and environmental health.

LEED is by far the world’s most widely used green building rating system and has a growing presence in the hospitality industry. According to the 2016 LEED in Motion Report, there are more than 2,070 hotels participating in LEED, representing 1.1 billion square feet worldwide. Of that, there are more than 400 LEED-certified hotels comprising nearly 134 million square feet of space.

As India’s growth in hospitality is driven by the mid-market hotels, what do you have for this segment?

We have recently added a technology platform called “Arc” which can track the LEED scores real-time and also help in LEED Certification. This can be a great fit to the expectations of this industry segment.

What are the long-term cost benefits of green certification for a hotel ?

Hotels consume natural resources at an extraordinarily high rate, as they are occupied 24 hours a day, seven days a week. According to a TripAdvisor survey, nearly two-thirds of travellers reported plans to make more environmentally friendly choices over the next year. And while on vacation, 88 per cent of travellers turned off lights when not in their hotel room, 78 per cent participated in the hotel’s linen and towel reuse programmes and 58 per cent used recycling in the hotel. As guests demand more sustainable travel solutions, hotels are positioned to deliver high quality experiences with the help of tools like LEED, that positively impact human health and the environment.

Incorporating LEED includes sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

Which are the future trends in this space in relation to the hospitality industry ?

The hospitality industry is noticing a change in consumer behaviour. Consumers are requesting sustainable resources, evaluating the indoor environment for health concerns and placing a preference on sustainable buildings. As this trend continues, consistent metrics and standards to support the quality of product the hospitality industry delivers will become even more important for a variety of stakeholders, including owners, investors and operators. Integrating green building strategies into the design, construction and daily operations of hotels makes business sense and can be an important part of a company’s commitment to sustainability.

Health and wellbeing of the hotel guests is also a significant zone of interest which GBCI will add to the benefits of adopting the standards.

Would you like to highlight any other significant factor regarding GBCI ?

USGBC is recognised globally for market transformation, and GBCI is the leader of speed to market transformation. Together, we are creating an unstoppable momentum in the marketplace, covering nearly every sector of the sustainability industry. USGBC and GBCI will redefine performance and offer real tools to benchmark, measure and manage ROI (return on investment and return on impact). We will continue to offer a diverse array of sustainability certification systems, extensive reviewer knowledge and resources, a suite of professional credentials and certificate programmes and excellence in customer experience.

Through rigorous certification and credentialing standards, we are driving adoption of green business practices that foster global competitiveness and enhance environmental performance and human health benefits. We have also partnered with a variety of businesses, non-profit and government leaders in India who understand the value of LEED and whose exceptional vision is transforming the market. They are raising the bar for the global market and positively impacting the quality of our built space and we are working with them to develop more sustainable buildings and cities—and by extension our planet and its people.

Our vision for India is simple: to build a healthy, smart, productive, efficient, equitable, resilient and, above all else, sustainable society.