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Waste Water Management

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The hospitality and tourism sector has grown at a rapid rate over the last few decades, and shows no signs of slowing down. International tourist arrivals increased by 1.1 billion from 1995 to 2015, and are expected to reach 1.8 billion by 2030). According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) long term forecast Tourism Towards 2030, the tourism industry has grown to become one of the world’s fastest growing and largest economic sectors (United Nations World Tourism Ogranization, 2015). Traditionally the hospitality and tourism industry has not been viewed as one that has a large impact on the natural environment, especially when compared to industries such as oil, gas, and consumer product manufacturing industries. However, hotels contribute to negative environmental impacts through energy and water usage, importing non-durable goods, as well as emitting a large amount of carbon dioxide. Hotel water consumption for laundry, showers, toilets, dishwashers, swimming pools, spas, golf course irrigation, as well as for other amenities, can consume up to 1million m3 of water per year (Gössling, 2013). Global warming and water scarcity are both acknowledged around the world as serious problems, and with the demand for water expected to exceed supply by 40% by 2030, hotels must implement water waste management techniques and policies to help achieve sustainable tourism development (Tuppen, 2013).

In 1995, an action plan for businesses in the travel and tourism sector was created by the World Travel & Tourism Council, the World Tourism Organization, and the Earth Council. These three international organizations created Agenda 21 for Travel & Tourism Industry: Towards Environmentally Sustainable Development (Stipanuk, 2015). Since then, many companies in the hospitality and tourism sector have formed their business and environmental policies around the agenda. The agenda outlines areas of priority, such as; waste minimization, energy conservation and management, partnerships for sustainable development, transport, and wastewater management. Agenda 21’s wastewater management objective is “to minimize waste water outputs in order to protect the aquatic environment, to safeguard flora and fauna, and to conserve and protect the quality of freshwater resources” (Stipanuk, 2015). After acknowledging the threat to our environment if change is not made, one hotel decided to make some changes of their own. Accor Hotels made 21 commitments in favour of sustainable development, called Planet 21. These commitments work towards improving health, nature, carbon levels, innovation, local development, employment, and work towards achieving Agenda 21. Between 2011 and 2014, Accor Hotels showed a 5.6% reduction in water use, and has made a commitment to reduce water consumption by 5% per night by 2018 (Accor Hotels, 2016). Recommendations for hotels that have not already implemented the workings of Agenda 21 includes; taking measures to protect fresh water reserves, implementing and providing communal fresh water facilities in local communities for tourist use, planting drought-resistant species in landscaped areas around and in hotels and reusing and recycling water whenever possible for irrigation and other purposes (United Nations, 1992).

Establishing a responsible business policy will set guidelines for the hotel, provide employees with commitments to uphold, and provide guests with knowledge about the hotels goals towards a greener future. Sustainability is made up of three pillars that are required to balance; people, profit, and the planet, also known as the three P’s. These three P’s represent the social, financial, and environmental factors that are required to manage a company sustainably. The triple bottom line of people, profit, and planet aims to measure the performance of all three pillars of the corporation over a period of time. Evaluating current environmental impacts of the hotel will provide opportunity to reduce and make changes necessary. The theory behind the three pillars is that they must all be equal in order to be sustainable. If one or even two of the pillars are given resources at the cost of another pillar, then the business model will be ultimately unsustainable (Stipanuk, 2015). Social equity can prove to be challenging to measure, especially the impact on the local community and culture of the surround areas. As well, ensuring financial sustainability is often a major concern in the tourism industry. Maintaining equal order in the three pillars can be difficult for hotels, however, once a balance has been achieved the results on the environment and company are substantial.

There are many certifications that hotels can work towards obtaining through improving their environmental standards. Green Seal is a science-based environmental certification that provides guidance and public education that aims to create a more sustainable world (Green Seal, 2016). Green Seals vision is “to create a green economy. One that is as sustainable as possible – renewable, with minimal impact – so that our environment, all forms of life, and out natural resources are protected, and our social needs and values are honored” (Green Seal, 2016). With a similar principle as the three pillars of sustainability, the Green Seal has been recognized as a highly prestigious certification. In 2010, Hilton Americas Houston, became the very first hotel in Texas to receive the green Seal Certification. The 24 story hotel, with over 1200 guest rooms reduced the hotel’s monthly water usage to 157,000 gallons, from 630,000 gallons. The 75% decrease that was achieved in water usage helped the hotel to reuse water towards maintaining an ideal operating temperature, and also reduced the demand for natural gas for heating (Nastu, 2010).

A systematic approach for improving and measuring environmental impact that hotels can strive to achieve is the ISO standard. It is one of the most well-known standards ever, and has been implemented in over a million organizations in 175 countries across the globe. Integrated Standards, the company to develop the ISO standards can provide organizations with an Integrated Management System (IMS) that can help hotels focus on management systems for environmental change. The ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards can help organizations to implement quality and environmental management (Integrated Standards, 2016). The ISO standards specialize in standards relating to agriculture, construction work, transportation, manufacturing and distribution, medical devices, environmental safety, as well as standards for good practices and services. In 2011, Hilton Worldwide earned the ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certifications for quality and environmental management throughout their hotel chain. With over 3,750 properties in 85 countries, the Hilton earned the largest volume certifications of commercial buildings ever (Hilton Worldwide, 2011). Achieving a prestigious certification such as the ISO, provides a competitive edge to hotels and promotes a greener future in the tourism industry.

Hotels are using 36,500 to 73,000 gallons of water per room, per year. At a cost between $2 and $4 for 1,000 gallons of fresh water, not only is this level of water usage extremely costly for hotels, but for the environment too. To help to reduce inflated water waste, environmental management practices can be put into place to conserve water and help to make the tourism sector more sustainable (Stipanuk, 2015). In 1999, the Marriott International hotels started on their goal to create greener hotels. The London Heathrow Marriott was the winner of the Green Hotelier Awards 2016, in Europe, after implementing new technology that would improve sustainability and reduce consumption footprint (O'Neil, 2016). Changes can be made throughout many different areas of a hotel in order to reduce water waste, from guest bathrooms, to the kitchen, hotel grounds and amenities, and even by changing appliances. Programs such as WaterSense, developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and products by companies like Energy Star can make it easier to save water.

With new technologies, water-using equipment and fixtures can be purchased that use less water than older conventional models. WaterSense labeled taps, showerheads, flushing urinals, toilets, and faucets are independently certified to reduce water usage by 20% and perform better than standard models used throughout hotels (WaterSense). Although, this can be costly to implement, in the long run, the cost savings and impact on the environment will result in a huge pay-off. One of the many techniques implemented by the Marriott that contributed to 30% water consumption savings from 2011 to 2015 was installing tap flow restrictors in all areas of their Heathrow hotel, including on taps and showers (O'Neil, 2016). According the reports from the EPA, 30% of a hotels’ water usage is from bathrooms, with the second highest usage being for laundry, at 16% (Schmalbruch, 2015). Giving guests the option of reusing towels and bed linen an extra day helps to reduce both water and energy by a substantial amount.
Another step towards a greener future that the Marriott made was to eliminate the need to buy bottled water for hotel meetings and for rooms. Instead, they implemented onsite water filtration units that can be used to refill water bottles with fresh, cold, drinking water (O'Neil, 2016). In hotel rooms changing appliances such as a regular travel kettle, to a quick boiler energy saver kettle, show realized cost savings.

Water usage in hotels can depend on multiple factors including; the size of the hotel, type of hotel, location, facilities like hot tubs, pools, saunas, as well as, managerial attention to water usage and waste. Water bills account for approximately 10% of a hotels utility bills. However, most hotels will find out that they are paying for the water being consumed twice, one by purchasing the fresh water, and twice when they have to dispose of it as waste water (Tuppen, 2013). The water supplied to hotels can come from a variety of sources depending on the location of the building. Rivers, wells, rainwater collection, the ocean, and lakes can all be sources of water for the tourism industry. Some hotels may have their own facility that provides them with water, whereas others may purchase the water from a water facility (Gössling, 2013). Well designed wastewater systems that are maintained properly can help to control waste water costs. One way of doing this is to ensure the waste water has been treated with a biological treatment, to ensure chemicals and disease have been removed from the water.

In many tourism destinations such as Cyprus, Barbados, and many costal zones in the Mediterranean or Caribbean, national water consumption levels are as high as 7.3% in the tourism sector (Gössling, 2013). Countries can preserve water by making changes to their hotel grounds and gardens. By planting in woodchip, water is retained in the bedding longer, resulting in a decrease in irrigation usage (O'Neil, 2016). Designing landscapes that are water-smart, and monitoring irrigation controllers will also reduce water. Instead of using irrigation that runs on a timer, hotels and resorts can monitor their irrigation and only turn it on when needed, to save water during rainy periods where irrigation is not required. The American Water Works Association recommends hiring a professional certified through a WaterSense labeled program to audit an existing system or design and install a water-efficient system, to improve irrigation (WaterSense). As well as this, making small changes such as ensuring that any pool pumps are turned off at night, and recycling rain water for irrigation use, will help to reduce waste.

The Environmental Protection Agency has also created a program that is aimed at identifying the best ways to save energy, called Energy Star. Hotels that upgrade their kitchen appliances such as ice machines, dishwashers, and steam cookers to qualified Energy Star models can see a reduction in water and energy usage of at least 10%, by reusing water throughout cycles. Some commercial dishwashers that are Energy Star approved can save on average 40% more energy and water than a standard model (Energy Star, 2016). Another award winning company, Granuldisk, developed a new technology capable of saving up to 90% of water used in the kitchen, by removing the need to pre-rinse dishes (Granuldisk, 2016). A huge win for the company showed an impressive 2 million liters and 92% water saving annually in the kitchen, from the installation of their pan and pot washing machine.

In the early 1990’s a new eco-friendly approach to hotels and resorts came about, called the Eco-lodge. These lodges are usually constructed and operate with an end goal of giving back to the environment and community around them. Eco-lodges go one step further than hotels implementing green practices, as all areas of the lodge are built to be certifiable “green” and eco-friendly. Often eco-lodges will have attributes such as being located in natural areas with little noise and pollution or smog, offering jobs to the local community, having a small amount of accommodation such as 20-30 rooms, and employing energy saving tactics such as solar panel roofing (Worldwide Ecolodges, n.d.). In the last few years Green Hotels have begun to rise in popularity, with locations in Costa Rice, Europe, the USA, Canada, Ecuador, and Australia. Many regular hotels that are striving to be greener have implemented new techniques and practices to make parts of their hotel more environmentally friendly, however, green hotels base their whole business model around eco-friendly practices. Non-polluting soaps are used in bathrooms, chemicals are not used on the premises, only eco-friendly cleaning products are allowed, recycling programs include collecting material that can be recycled from guests, and providing employees with environmental awareness training are all a part of green hotels (Worldwide Ecolodges, n.d.).

An increase in the tourism sector provides vast opportunities for hotels to become water conservation leaders and to start a movement towards a more sustainable future in the sector. Increasing water efficiency levels, and lowering waste and energy levels will improve the bottom line for hotels, but will also improve the environment on a global scale. Companies that do not have the funding to install energy saving products are still able to work towards making their hotel more sustainable by ensuring there are no leaks in the hotel, and slowly replacing smaller appliances with cost and energy saving alternatives. Hotels that monitor their water consumption are able to see how much water is wasted and can set goals to improve consumption levels. Striving to achieve awards, certifications, and standards such as Green Seal, ISO certifications, and aiming to meet Agenda21, is an easy way to help hotels stay on track with their green footprint. Programs such as Energy Star, and those offered through certification programs provide hotels with all of the information necessary to make the changed needed to help save our planet.…...

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