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Hotels go green by recycling garbage

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Sofitel’s Phnom Penh Phokeethra has planted 1,300 trees in its grounds as part of its green strategy.

With the dry season approaching its zenith, at least in Southeast Asia, much of Indochina turns to a yellow dustbowl. Yet in three environmentally progressive hotels in the region, the predominant hue is undoubtedly green.

As the price of crude oil surges toward US$100 per barrel and beyond, some hotels are doing what many of the major United States car makers did not: retooling and building anew with conservation uppermost on the agenda.

In Cambodia, the new Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra, due for its official opening on March 29, has wasted no time in establishing its eco-friendly credentials.

The hotel, which became the first five-star property to open in Phnom Penh in more than a decade with a soft opening in December last year, has adopted a range of policies designed to reduce its carbon footprint.

The property recycles 80 percent of its garbage every month to produce the biogas methanol, which is then used to provide energy for the staff canteen, the hotel kitchen and one of the property’s boilers.

Other initiatives undertaken by the hotel include the recycling of its wastewater and a carbon offset programme where 1,300 trees have been planted on the hotel’s grounds.

“You can’t open a hotel in 2011 without significant investment in green technologies. The world just doesn’t work that way any more,” says Didier Lamoot, Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra’s general manager. “No one can afford to have soot all over their footprints.”

Meanwhile, over the border in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, older properties like the iconic Caravelle Hotel are belying their venerable status by promoting cutting-edge green policies.  In December, the Caravelle completed installation of a wastewater treatment facility that recycles 40 percent of its water.

The innovation was a central plank of the hotel’s efforts to achieve ISO certification, which it did in February.

Other green policies adopted by the Caravelle in recent times include reducing electricity consumption by switching to energy-saving light bulbs and installing a high-efficiency chiller to power its air-conditioning system.

Over the next year, the hotel aims to reduce harmful carbon dioxide emissions by 4 percent by replacing its current diesel boiler with a high-efficiency heat pump.

Another ambition is the attainment of Green Globe certification, widely regarded as the premier standard for environmental sustainability development worldwide.

“We view environmental best practice as an imperative, not an option,” says John Gardner, Caravelle general manager. “Nothing could be more important than the future of our planet, which is why our commitment to environmental best practices is non-negotiable.”

Gardner’s view is shared by Scott Hodgetts, general manager of the Sheraton Nha Trang. The hotel, which opened in Vietnam’s premier beach resort last year, has adopted stringent environmental policies. It uses solar power to run its hot water system and has been proactive in encouraging guests to save on water and energy usage.

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