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QGBC calls for collective action for greening Qatar’s hospitality sector

Body says its research efforts aim to ensure sustainability across the sector

| | Nov 13, 2016 | 5:16 pm
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Qatar, UAE: The Qatar Green Building Council has called for a collaborative approach to firmly put the country’s hospitality sector on the sustainable development pathway. The body issued the call in the wake of twin reports highlighting the heavy global impact of the sector on the environment, in terms of its excessive waste generation and energy consumption, and outlining the challenges that lie ahead.

According to Green Hotelier, hotels in the United Kingdom alone generate approximately 287,900 tonnes of food waste each year. In recent years, however, thanks to greater awareness and the widespread shift towards sustainable practices on a global scale, the international hospitality industry has begun to strategically adopt greener practices.

While there has been a positive shift and adoption of green trends, globally, the move towards a sustainable hospitality industry is not without its challenges. The Green Key Eco-Rating Program, a global rating system established in 1994 and designed to recognise sustainability within the hospitality and tourism industries, has thus far registered 1,776 hotels worldwide, showing an overwhelming drive towards becoming more sustainable.

Highlighting a number of key sustainability challenges in the global hospitality industry, the Hospitality 2015 Report, released by multinational consulting firm, Deloitte, states that “hospitality is vulnerable to water shortages, relies heavily on built assets, consumes significant amounts of electricity and, generally speaking, is an item on which spending is discretionary. These factors ensure that hospitality will be significantly impacted by sustainability issues in the future.”

To address these many challenges, key global members of the industry are pursuing a more systematic and strategic approach towards addressing sustainability within its premises. For existing hotels, this means retrofitting existing buildings to meet sustainability and green measures by installing economical lighting, reducing water consumption and improving air quality.

Keeping abreast of the global trends and standards, in recent years, many hotels within the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) have begun to adopt more stringent sustainability measures. A case study entitled, ‘Sustainable Best Practices in Hotels’, published recently by Hotelier Middle East, highlighted the sustainability achievements of the Fairmont The Palm in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Being the first hotel on Dubai’s man-made island to successfully meet the stringent norms of qualifying for the ‘Green Key’, the Fairmont was able to achieve its sustainable objectives by strategically adopting a holistic approach to green best practices, which included the environmental, economic and social programme outlined in the Fairmont Sustainability Partnership.

Meanwhile, Qatar’s hospitality sector is undergoing considerable transformation as the industry continues to witness steady growth, while green design and operations are becoming a more widespread, and a necessary requirement for hotels.

Earlier this year, Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) announced upgrades to its hotel grading system, outlining new guidelines for hotels and hotel apartments in Qatar that they will be required to adhere to by the end of 2020. Among the upgraded guidelines, the QTA introduced an environmental category, which means hotels will now also be graded on their sustainability efforts. Addressing and holding accountable developers, owners, management and operators for their activities in the industry, although merely the start of a new era, the new QTA rating system is reportedly paving the way for a more sustainable and efficient hospitality sector in the country.

The new grading system is apparently indicative of the increasing emphasis on developing a collective and comprehensive sustainability framework for the industry and highlights the key role the hospitality industry can play in fulfilling the developmental objectives outlined in the Qatar National Tourism Strategy 2030.

Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC), a member of Qatar Foundation, said it is currently spearheading a number of initiatives to advance sustainability in Qatar’s hospitality sector. Through its Green Hotels Interest Group (GHiG), established in 2012, QGBC brings leading hotels, organisations and individuals together, creating a platform to provide the rapidly expanding hospitality sector with the necessary support and guidance to effectively adopt best environmental practices.

Furthermore, QGBC’s Healthy Building Interest Group (HBiG) recently conducted an “Indoor Environmental Quality” survey in collaboration with the Movenpick Hotel West Bay, which focused on measuring various aspects of indoor environmental air quality in hotels, including acoustics, accessibility, furniture, housekeeping and indoor air quality (IAQ). The case study, QGBC said, is a ground-breaking piece of research, which will prove highly useful for indoor air quality and sustainability experts in Qatar. The findings will serve to advance green best practices and will go on to inform future sustainability strategies in the country.

Through the guidelines set out by the QTA, along with support and guidance of interest groups, such as GHiG & HBiG and the tailor-made Hospitality-focused training by QGBC, a clearly defined sustainable hospitality framework is reportedly developing to assist the sector in realising its green objectives, as set by the Qatar National Tourism Strategy 2030. The comprehensive sustainability framework provides a shared goal that the sector is able to work towards while making significant contributions to alleviating the effects of deteriorating climatic conditions as a result of climate change, securing a sustainable future.

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