In practice: AccorHotels’ new project targeting BREEAM excellent certification

Ahead of edie's flagship Sustainability Leaders Awards in January, edie is taking a closer look at some of the projects initiatives that have been deemed worthy of a finalist position by our expert judges. Up next: AccorHotels' new London hotel.

The Challenge

AccorHotels’ Planet 21 programme has numerous goals in place relating to sustainability and climate change. By 2020 all new or renovated hotels must be low-carbon buildings, while the hotelier is also aiming to plant 10 million trees by 2021. These goals, alongside waste and energy targets, ensure that any new developments must implement sustainability from the design phase.

So, when AccorHotels announced plans to open a flagship Novotel building – the Novotel in Blackfriars is one of just four hotels in the UK to be certified to BREEAM standards – the company knew that the design phase would need to implement innovations that could lower carbon emissions, reduce food waste and water consumption, and simultaneously encourage visitors to embrace AccorHotel’s Planet 21 ethos.

The Solution

In April 2017, the Novotel in London’s Canary Wharf officially opened. The three-year development represents a £90m investment from AccorHotels, and the building was delivered on time and to budget.

The hotel was designed and constructed with the aim of achieving a BREEAM Excellent rating, however this will not be announced until later in the year. AccorHotels is optimistic that the building has met the criteria.

The 313-room hotel has created around 150 new jobs and has been fitted with numerous sustainability features, while local suppliers and environmentally-friendly products and materials were sourced throughout.

LRW acted as the main architect to the building, and work was carried out by numerous UK contractors. The design of the hotel was split; interiors was covered by Koncept while Mystery developed the food and beverage design.

The Benefits

An innovative management application system enables the hotel to report, track and manage performance across 65 actions, including rainwater recovery and recycling of items such as glass. A performance rating of bronze to platinum can then compare the progress of individual hotels.

A Combined Heat and Power system was installed as one of the primary contributors to an overall reduction of CO2 emissions of 30.2%. The system is 90% efficient, producing on average 135 Kilo Watts per hour of electricity for 18 hours a day.

Energy-efficient lightbulbs and a light regulation system that adjusts lighting levels according to time of day and season have also helped reduce energy consumption. External signage has also been connected to these daylight sensors. Solar panels have also been enlisted as part of the design.

Water flow has been restricted to around 4 litres per minute at taps and 8 litres per minute at showers. No data is currently available as to how much water this will save but it will contribute to an overall goal to reduce water consumption by 5% per room.

As part of Planet 21, AccorHotels is planning to introduce 1,000 urban vegetable gardens across hotels. Already, more than 600 have been planted at Novotel Canary Wharf. It is believed the 1,000 target will be reached by 2020 and vegetables and herbs grown will be used in the kitchen and at the bar for cocktails.

The hotel also has beehives on the 39th floor – believed to be the highest in the UK – that are producing honey for guests. Regarding food, products are sourced from local suppliers and short and traceable supply chains with a focus on ethical and organic suppliers. Both cooking oil and coffee capsules are recycled, and this will contribute to a targeted 30% reduction in food waste. However, AccorHotels revealed that the initiative has cut food waste by nearly 60% across kitchens piloting it.

The Costs

AccorHotels asked Accenture Strategy to conduct a study to examine the business performance of its sustainability actions. The study found that hotels with higher rankings on a specific sustainability management tool were more profitable and created higher levels of guest satisfaction.

Although an expected return on investment hasn’t been publicised, AccorHotels claim that the hotel was built to contribute enormous benefits. Much of the cost reduction is being generated through cuts to energy and water consumption.

Top line revenues at the £90m hotel have been improved by sustainability measures, with research finding that 67% of AccorHotel guests are willing to pay extra for a hotel that undertakes environmental procedures.

The Future

As mentioned, AccorHotels has a target in place to plant 10 million trees by 2021. Guests at the hotel will be encouraged to participate in these efforts, by choosing not to have bath towels laundered. The costs savings on the laundry and water use are instead used to fund reforestation projects. So far more than 4.5 million trees have been planted through AccorHotels’ Planet 21 strategy.

The group also issued a world first for the travel and tourism sector by enabling anyone to purchase a tree – which is subsequently planted – through a mobile app.

Matt Mace

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