Dubai hotels to embark on green journey

The “12 Steps Towards Sustainability” manual was developed in partnership with Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC).
Sunday 30/09/2018
A view at the Palm Beach hotel with the Dubai skyline in the background. (Karim Sahib)
A view at the Palm Beach hotel with the Dubai skyline in the background. (Karim Sahib)

DUBAI - The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing has introduced the first interactive, web-based, manual under the Dubai Sustainable Tourism (DST) initiative to help more than 700 hotels and hospitality establishments in the emirate go green.

This move is expected to have a positive effect on the environmental performance in the tourism industry. By ensuring that all hotels (with some 11,317 rooms) engage in responsible practices, Dubai aims to strategically position itself as a landmark for sustainability.

By identifying the collective environmental effects of the tourism industry, the guidelines provide practical and cost-effective solutions around four key themes: energy conservation, water conservation, waste management and sustainability engagement of staff and guests.

Yousuf Lootah, executive director of tourism development and investments at Dubai Tourism, said: “This pioneering document serves as a valuable and comprehensive guide to help create a sustainable future for our tourism industry. We hope it will inspire hotels and their staff to help make a difference to the sustainability landscape.”

The “12 Steps Towards Sustainability” manual was developed in partnership with Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC).

Measures in the manual will serve as precursors for the hospitality standards expected to be established later in the year in compliance with the regulations, codes and processes mandated by Dubai Municipality and Dubai Tourism.

The manual is designed to guide Dubai hotels to reduce their environmental footprints and improve energy, water and waste consumption as part of a holistic approach to ensure that sustainable tourism is a priority for the emirate.

EmiratesGBC’s hospitality programme includes the operation of Green Key, an international eco-label for tourism establishments. It addresses similar themes as highlighted in the DST Manual, such as energy, water, waste and education of hotel guests and hotel staff on sustainability practices.

“These efforts complement the work of Dubai Tourism, and we hope that it will help further sustainable tourism in the country,” EmiratesGBC stated. “Establishments wanting to extend their efforts and achieve a Green Key certification should first closely review the Green Key criteria and evaluate their internal operations to ensure compliance before proceeding with application.”

The first-year certification can take up to three to four months from applying for a certificate to one being awarded.

The duration to achieve certification is largely dependent on what the hotel property already has in place in terms of sustainability policies and initiatives, efficient systems and fixtures, use of environmentally friendly products, staff training and other things.

In 2016, EmiratesGBC had published its Hotel Benchmarking Report, which was the first report on the industry’s environmental performance in the UAE. Accordingly, there has been a clear shift in the Emirates’ hospitality sector towards sustainable development, which is positively influenced by government initiatives such as the Carbon Calculator software developed by DST in partnership with Dubai Carbon as well as DST’s sustainability manual.

In addition, internal policies towards clear-cut sustainable practices and their implementation are being enforced by large hotel groups and are creating a new culture of “green” competition in the hospitality sector. This has spurred a palpable shift towards championing sustainable development within the industry.

Olivier Harnisch, CEO of Emaar Hospitality Group, said: “We are committed to conserving the environment and introducing sustainable practices across our hotels and leisure assets. We support the ‘green vision’ of the UAE and the new 12-step eco guide launched by Dubai Tourism sets a benchmark in driving and promoting greener tourism and hospitality best practices in the city.”

“It indeed serves as a model for the region and will bring together the entire tourism and hospitality stakeholders to promote environment-friendly practices for reducing the carbon footprint and to benefit our future generations.”

Emaar Hospitality Group’s portfolio includes the luxury brand Address Hotels and Resorts, the upscale lifestyle hotel and residences brand Vida Hotels and Resorts and the contemporary midscale hotel brand Rove Hotels.

At Emaar Hospitality Group, Harnisch said their focus was to achieve the highest standard of excellence in the field of environmental sustainability and sustainable operation within the hospitality industry.

“We have already undertaken several environment-friendly initiatives to minimise the depletion of both local and global natural resources through optimal use, recovery, reuse and recycling of materials and energy. Earlier this year, we joined hands with EmiratesGBC and are aiming to have 15 hospitality and leisure assets in Dubai Green Key certified.”

“Moreover, we have recently announced our partnership with leading tech-firm Winnow to reduce food waste across our hotels. Our environmental policy adheres to strict operating guidelines and we comply with best practices to strengthen awareness on a greener lifestyle through energy and water efficiency,” Harnisch added.

A view of the Address Downtown of the Emaar Hospitality Group. (Emaar)