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This essay discusses the importance of implementing environmental measures for the existing sea-side hotel in Malta as well as outlines the possible measures that could be introduced in the hotel. In our days it is vital for any hotel to take actions in order to stay competitive and follow the trend of sustainability. Malta is a perfect place to introduce as many eco measures in the hotel as possible. Malta's location and environmental resources provide a great opportunity to develop eco trend. Thus, it will be a benefit for a superior hotel to revise its practices of water and energy consumption and energy usage.
There is a wide range of literature available on the topic of environmental measures within the hotel industry. For the benefit of this essay a number of journals, reports and books have been consulted prior and during the writing process. Whilst researching on the topic newspapers like 'The Guardian' and 'The Sunday Times' have been examined. However, newspapers cannot be considered as a reliable source of information and, therefore, were not referred to whilst writing the paper. Reports from the recognized hotel schools like Cornell University, School of Hotel Administration and Ecole Hotelier de Lausanne have provided the in-depth information with regards to the sustainable measures and its development. The reliable facts for general knowledge and trend comparison were found in the Journal of European Commission and National Statistics Office reports, and several research outcomes were found in the recognized books about hospitality by Bohdanowicz and Claver-Cortes et al. The reports from the private companies, like Ernst&Young, and information available from the Mediterranean hotels, for example Hilton Malta, gave insight information about the experience of implementing eco-friendly measures.
Importance of environmental measures
A number of studies have shown that hotels may benefit socially and economically by showing an initiative in implementing eco-friendly measures. Nowadays there has been noticed a trend amongst tourists of choosing 'green hotel', therefore, going green will lead to increased competitive advantage, customer loyalty, attraction of new customers and brand value (Graci & Kuehnel, 2010)
According to Claver-Cortes et al. (2007) because of the unstable economy and the rising need to concentrate on customer service the hospitality sector has been implementing environmental measures since 1990. Since than technologies have developed and eco-measures became even more important for the industry. Nowadays customers want to pay less and still get high standard service, therefore, hotel's operational costs need to be cut.
Apart from satisfying customers' needs and decreasing negative environmental impacts the reduction of the costs plays a vital role for a business within the industry. It is a rule for any business - in order to have higher profits the costs need to be minimized.
As a result of the rising caution about the environment a number of hotel eco-certification schemes have been introduced and EU Ecolabel is amongst them. When improving the hotel it is vital to refer to the criteria of one of these schemes in order to identify the main areas for the possible resolutions.
The aim of the EU Ecolabel is to limit energy and water consumption, waste production, encourage the use of renewable resources and contribute to advertising the need to be environmentally friendly (European Commission, 2009). Therefore, in this essay three main areas of improvements will be discussed, which are energy, water and waste.
Measures that could be implemented
There are a lot of measures that could be implemented in order for the hotel to become more environmentally friendly. Some of them require high investments whilst others are free of charge. The majority of the measures will affect the operations of Food and Beverage and Housekeeping departments.
In a superior hotel with 300 rooms energy is the second largest expense (Zein, et al., 2008).When managing a large sea-side hotel in Malta opportunity of benefiting from the sun light should be used to the fullest in order to minimize electricity costs.
Solar panels need to be installed and used either as a prime source of energy or as an additional energy source during peak times (The Smart Energy Design Assistance Centre, 2011). Heating water using solar power will decrease energy cost by 40% (Zein, et al., 2008).
Another important measure is usage of steam and heat which is generated by the machinery in the kitchen in order to have supplies of hot water, subsequently, the heated water could be used in guest rooms and laundry. However, the demand of hot water could be reduced by installation of aerator (Zein, et al., 2008).
In order to reduce overheating in summer periods windows need to be covered with an invisible anti solar and heat film; this method has proved to be efficient as stated by Hilton Malta Chief Engineer.
Moreover, timers and movement detectors should be installed where applicable for reduction of light and air conditioner use and current sources of light to be replaced by energy-saving bulbs and fluorescent lamps (Zein, et al., 2008).
One of the major problems of the Mediterranean island is the need of water distillation and as a result water scarcity. It has been established that on average a guest in a hotel uses 300 litres of water per day. There are several possible solutions to this problem. For example, tools which regulate flow of the water and minimise the amount of water wasted. This could be achieved by using water flow sensors, self-closing taps and low-flush toilets. Moreover, toilets could be flushed with the grey water and spacious gardens could be watered using the used water from fruits and vegetables washing in the kitchen or collected rainwater. To achieve the best results it is advised to water the gardens either very early in the day or after the sunset in order to reduce the evaporation. In order to reduce water pollution the use of chlorine, phosphate and whitener need to be minimized in the pool and laundry operations (Zein, et al., 2008). Instead, less harmful and biological substances should be considered for the usage.
According to the National Statistics office inbound tourism in Malta has been increasing over the last 7 years (OECD, 2012). However, this positive trend faces the poor waste disposal measures. In order to be capable to accommodate visitors hotel needs to minimize and recycle waste (Zein, et al., 2008). It is crucial that the hotel follow the concept of reduce, reuse, and recycle because according to the study of Bohdanowicz (2005) around 50-60 percent of the disposed waste can be recycled.
For that reason waste must be segregated, this could be achieved by introduction of waste dividers in the guest rooms and different colours and labels containers in the housekeeping trolleys and kitchen area. It is vital to outline that hazardous and non-hazardous waste needs to be kept separate and all the relevant precautions need to be followed. After the segregation and collection of waste competent employee must try to sell recyclable waste to the recycling companies. In the kitchen area oils should not be poured in sinks, instead they need to be disposed in an appropriate manner in order to reduce a chance of blocked pipes which could lead to high financial costs and inability of the hotel to operate in the full capacity (Zein, et al., 2008).
Barriers to implement the measures
It is much cheaper and easier to build a new hotel in accordance to environmental standards rather than to restructure an existing one (Ernst&Young, 2008).
As stated by the findings of the HOTRES project, there is a bounded amount of eco-technologies within the hotel industry and the main reasons for that are paucity of investors or funds and uncertainty about feasibility and quality of the gained products. The SOLARGE project had identified even more crucial barrier - there are a lot of planning restrictions and often it is difficult to get governmental permissions to install certain technologies (Hotel Energy Solutions, 2011).
Hotel in Malta will face technical, financial and behavioural barriers. As stated before, it is hard to reconstruct the existing hotel in accordance to the modern rules and measures. Installing some of the suggested equipment, for example solar panels, requires heavy funding and, therefore, not all the measures can be implemented at once. However, the investment is repaid very fast. Lastly, it requires time and money to retrain employees to do their daily routine in a different way and some of them might not understand why the hotel needs changes. As a result, it is also vital to educate the employees with regards to the importance of the environment.
To conclude, nowadays "going green" is an essential change for a successful hotel. In order to lower the harmful impact on the environment, minimize costs and attract customers it is crucial to address and understand the need of renewable energy and developed technologies. However, for an existing hotel it is hard to change everything at once and meet the regulations of the eco-certifications. Therefore, it is suggested to start with options that need only minor investments, like waste segregation and anti-solar films.