In the local newspaper today, The Lincolnshire Echo, the front page story was about plans to build a new hotel on the edge of the city of Lincoln (UK). Whilst you might be thinking that that’s not exactly earth shattering news, actually it got me thinking. The hotel is being described and indeed hyped up as an eco-hotel. What exactly does that mean? Can a hotel be environmentally friendly?
This 70 bedroom, 9.3 acre hotel has a number of established eco-technologies, these are green roofs, rainwater harvesting, biomass boilers, solar thermal water heating and natural ventilation cooling systems. If planning is granted one of the conditions is that the whole site is made as near to carbon neutral as possible. One of the more interesting aspects of this plan is that the site is currently very close to a nature park and it is currently home to a chicken farm of 150,000 birds.
Can any hotel really claim to be eco?
I really have my doubts as to whether a hotel can be environmentally friendly. All the hotels I’ve ever stayed in are normally very energy intensive, not only in terms of heating and cooling. But think about laundry, the cleaning and also the carbon spent my the visitors getting to the hotel in the first place. Also, when people are away from home, it’s quite normal to become more excessive. I know I do, taking that extra long shower, taking advantage of the hi-flow shower head or using the air con more than normal. Obviously, the bed sheets and towels are changed daily, I certainly don’t change these this often at home, do you?
Until recently, the nearest thing a typical hotel got to becoming eco, was switching to low energy lighting and putting a message up in the bathrooms telling you to let them know if you needed the towels changing. Some of the better ones go a little further by using more environmentally friendly products. Still I doubt their motives, there’s no real investment and the techniques described above could be implemented to reduce their running costs. Which I appreciate also helps to reduce power consumption, but it’s not really sending out the right message.
Will the next generation of hotels be eco?
So new hotels like the one described at the top of this post have the advantage of being able to incorporate new technologies from scratch. Whether these technologies are truly better for the environment is a whole different topic, but by adding them at vastly extra build costs, certainly helps to send out a good message, but again, are chains doing this to fly the eco-banner. Maybe it pulls in a few extra customers? Or is it because building regulations, through planning they wouldn’t be able to build a hotel at all. We can’t be sure which of these is the true motive.
What really bothers me about this from an environmental perspective, is that hotels by their nature, encourage people to travel and usually by car. The are usually full of travelling business people, who spend vast amounts of time driving around in single occupancy vehicles.
Perhaps in the near future hotels can become truely eco, but until then, I will have continue to doubt this. I also appreciate that there are also many other aspects of modern life that need similar attention. Todays newspaper story stirred this one up.
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