Once voted world’s greenest hotel, the purpose-built Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers does have an impressive sustainability story to tell. It is a top performer in environmental management and efficiency in a city famous for its urban sustainability initiatives. Sustainability and environmental performance are continuously monitored, challenged and improved, tells us Mireille Jakobsen, Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers’ sustainability and CSR manager.
- Why Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers invests in sustainability and eco-efficiency;
- How the hotel’s commitment to sustainability has impacted staff, clients and guests;
- Which are the most exciting sustainability features at the hotel;
- The main benefits of implementing sustainability;
- Advice for hotel managers eager to follow suit.
Mireille, since when and why the focus on sustainability at the hotel?
This was planned from the very beginning, before the hotel opened its doors. The philosophy on which the hotel is built is that sustainability and profitability are, and must continue to be compatible goals. Sustainability is also our advantage in a very competitive market.
What has been the impact on your staff, clients and guests?
Our team members are our most important assets and our greatest ambassadors. It is important that everybody understands and can relate to our sustainable way of thinking. In this way, they can make their own sustainable decisions and relate to our guests what it is all about, in their own words.
Our staff are very loyal and we have a very low employee turnover, compared to the industry average.
For our clients, it is becoming more and more important that the hotel and conference facilities are environmentally friendly. Clients are very glad that they can not only have a good product, but also a sustainable venue.
Sustainability should never compromise the quality of the product for our guests. Thus our guests are generally very positive to not only receive what they should (and some more) at a four star hotel, but are glad that that the hotel has taken the steps it has in relation to the environment. This makes for loyal guests and good ambassadors.
In your view, which are the most exciting sustainable initiatives at the hotel?
- The largest building with integrated solar panel park in Northern Europe;
- The first ever groundwater-based cooling and heating system in Denmark;
- Our commitment to the community.
Can you give us some more information on your sustainability practices?
Energy and Emissions
CO2 neutral hotel building: We are the first hotel in Denmark to meet the standards in the EU Green Building Program. We have been certified as a Low Energy Class 2 building – also as the first hotel in Denmark, and we have Denmark’s first carbon neutral hotel building.
Here the distinction between running a carbon neutral hotel building and then being entirely carbon neutral is important to underline – the latter is virtually impossible since today you cannot measure – or prevent/neutralize – the indirect carbon footprint caused by things like production and transportation of raw materials, beverages, wash and dry-cleaning of linen, etc.
Take our coffee as an example: We have bought an organic, fair-trade product to take both social and environmental responsibility, but we cannot prevent the carbon emission that is linked to the production and the transportation of this product on its way to our hotel.
We have built the first ever groundwater-based cooling and heating system in Denmark. Copenhagen Towers extracts heating and cooling from groundwater, 100 meters below surface. This system is unique as the water that is used for cooling in the summer is stored and is used again for heating in the winter. It reduces the energy consumption used to cool and heat by up to 90%.
We have also installed Denmark’s largest privately owned Solar Panel Park. All sunny surfaces on Copenhagen Towers are covered with ultra thin and high technology solar panels. This generates more than 200,000 kWh power on a yearly basis – the equivalent of the energy consumption in 60 Danish family houses.
In our rooms, guests literally get to feel the green profile of the hotel. Here, everything from the shampoo bottle to the tooth brush is made of corn and potato starch. The revolutionary, organic material looks and feels like plastic, but is both recyclable and biodegradable. If you bury the products in a flower pot they will dissolve after three months, leaving no pollution. And of course the products contain no parabenes or allergenic substances.
We got rid of the hotel information folder and similar printed products. All information to the hotel guests are now delivered electronically in an interactive TV screen information system that is very similar to web pages and is therefore intuitive.
All components in the hotel IT infrastructure – switches, routers, access points and laptops are chosen according to their energy frame and recyclability – even taking the packaging for delivery into consideration.
The kitchen is, wherever possible, built up around the latest induction technology. Induction stands out by turning on and off instantly and heating immediately and only where it is needed. Thereby heat waste in the kitchens is minimized drastically.
Handling of waste products from the kitchen is another substantial investment in technology and environment. All food waste in the hotel is ground and sucked into a 1000 litres tank in the basement. This tank is then later emptied and freighted to a bio-gas plant. The remains from this process are used to fertilize farm land.
At Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers we practice responsible supply chain management. In addition to providing our key suppliers with a Supplier Code of Conduct, we work in accordance with a set of principles to ensure sustainable food and beverage sourcing. Wherever possible we give preference to organic produce and products. We use seasonal ingredients for our world-class Nordic dishes. We aim at retrieving raw materials locally, preferably within a radius of 300 km. We also try to minimise our supplier deliveries to as few times a week as possible.
The aim of this principle-based approach is not only to provide sustainable food and beverage choices for our guests and employees, but also to promote sustainable practices among our business partners.
We have eliminated the traditional company car solution. We have bought the first 2 electric Citroën C1 cars to arrive in Denmark, which are mainly used by our sales team. We do this because we believe it is possible to reduce our environmental impact, while at the same time acquiring a car that can deliver the same performance and safety as a normal car.
We also encourage our staff to use public transportation and have therefore not reserved any employee parking at the hotel. Metro, train and bus connections are within a 3 minute walk from the hotel and provide easy and environmentally friendly access to Copenhagen city centre for all our guests and employees.
We also have 10 electric bicycles available for our guests. Guests often use the bicycles to explore the city or the nature reserve Amager Fælled, located just a short distance from the hotel.
Since the opening of Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers, our hotel has been dedicated to creating positive social change in our local community. Though charitable donations and supporting local sports teams we believe we are able to create a positive impact in our local community.
Nevertheless, we believe that creating positive social change in our local community starts at the heart of our hotel. This is why we place special focus on providing jobs and internships for members of the community who face added obstacles in finding employment. In collaboration with local councils and projects, we recruit candidates with various disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as candidates with diverse cultural and religious roots (presently we have 43 nationalities represented in our staff team).
We hope that these commitments give our customers and other stakeholders full confidence that the service and products we provide are based on solid principles of social, environmental and economic responsibility.
What have been the main benefits of implementing these green initiatives?
- Gaining competitive advantage by being a leader in the sector;
- Customer loyalty;
- Employee retention;
- Awards and recognition;
- Regulatory compliance;
- Risk management;
- Increased brand value.
But most of all, because it’s the right thing to do!
3 bits of advice to hotels looking to do the same?
Being sustainable isn’t always about being best in class. It’s also about making a difference where you can. Start small and let your success drive you to greater things.
In order to ensure sustainable initiatives are implemented, employee involvement is key.
The majority of guests still prioritize price and quality. Sustainability should be a business advantage, so think wisely before you implement initiatives. All efforts should create value.
Thank you, Mireille.
Learn more about the hotel here.
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