Marriott develops its first carbon neutral CHP plant

The London Heathrow Marriott has announced that its new combined heat and power plant will be carbon neutral, the company’s first ever such initiative.

Combined with the CHP system, which will provide the hotel with heat and electricity whilst cutting harmful emissions by up to 30%, the new scheme will include tree-planting in order to offset carbon dioxide produced by the system, says Marriott. The efficiency of CHP is expected to produce savings to the hotel of £50,000 per year.

In collaboration with Future Forests, over 2000 trees will be planted at woodland sites around the country to offset the carbon dioxide emitted during the CHP system’s installation, with further trees planted every year to offset the plant’s ongoing emissions. The tree planting aims to recreate natural woodland sites, in areas such as the Forests of Avon and Mercia, using tree species indigenous to each particular area, a spokesperson for the project explained to edie.

“A sound environmental management approach to running a business is absolutely necessary,” said John Conlon, Property Operations Manager of Whitbread Hotel Companies, the Marriott UK franchise holders. “There are very good economic, social and moral reasons why every business should take this approach. We’ve taken the lead in the UK on certification with Green Globe – now on a roll-out programme – and we see that Future Forests partnership as a natural part of our carbon management plan.”

The hotel chain already has 21 hotels with CHP systems in operation, and a further 17 are due to be installed by May next year at a cost of £2 million, but with an expected decrease in running costs of over £500,000 per year, Conlon told edie. A further two to five hotels are also being examined for the prospect of being converted to the system.

The hotel chain was initially attracted to the use of CHP by both the increase in efficiency, and the reduction of pollution, Paul Bracchi, Technical Services Manager for Swallow Hotels, part of the Whitbread chain, told edie. CHP is able to raise efficiency from a meagre 28-32% for conventional systems, to 82-86%, without affecting the running of the hotel, said Bracchi.

“The Government’s initiative to bring into being the Climate Change Levy has encouraged the uptake of CHP installations,” said Damian Shevloff of Nedalo, the company that installed the system at the London Heathrow Marriott. “This obviously is beneficial to everyone as not only will it reduce expenditure for our clients but it will also have long term environmental benefits.”

The Carbon Neutral programme is being funded jointly by Nedalo and Marriott, both members of the travel industry’s Green Globe Standard ecotourism certification programme (see related story). Currently, a number of hotels in the chain are registering themselves for Green Globe accreditation, said Bracchi, and it is company policy that eventually, all hotels should aim to join the scheme.

Green Globe Deputy Chairman Geoffrey Lipman is urging other companies to follow in the Marriott’s footsteps. “Tourism, like other sectors of the economy must play its part in the response to climate change,” said Lipman. “Green Globe companies and communities are encouraged to make this a priority in their sustainable development agenda. Marriott’s commitment is a perfect example of how sustainability in practice and bottom line benefit go hand in hand.”

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