These days, being environmentally friendly has started to become fashionable. Eco-friendly hotels are popping up all over India. However, despite laying claim to being eco-friendly, some are much more sensitive to the environment than others.

The Rodas EcoTel in Powai belongs to the EcoTel group of hotels — an international collection of inns, hotels, and resorts that has been certified to meet stringent criteria set by environmental experts. But, what does it take be recognised as an EcoTel Hotel?

The EcoTel team recently undertook a case study of the Rodas EcoTel, which revealed a number of inspiring initiatives.

Rodas EcoTel Construction

  • The hotel’s neoclassical arched façade, while visually arresting, plays a role in reducing loss of energy from the sides of the building and thus maintaining lower temperatures within. The façade with its dual layers – external arches and columns and internal walls and glazed windows – increases the insulation for the building envelope, reducing energy losses. The building itself is positioned such that the centre-point of its parabolic shape faces the north-east, which reduces the effect of direct sunlight and thus helps the hotel save on the energy requirement for air-conditioning and lighting.
  • The cement used throughout the building is Portland Pozzalana (PPC), which uses 25% fly ash, a by-product of electric power generation.
  • All the wood used is either rubber wood (resulting from felled rubber trees) or medium density fibre (from the waste stalks of the cotton tree).

Like the building, the facilities infrastructure has been designed in a manner that it enables energy-efficient operations, and energy meters allow staff to monitor consumption within the individual departments.

Rodas EcoTel Waste Management

  • Emphasis on reducing waste at source: Guest laundry is lightly folded and delivered to the guests in jute baskets, and not in plastic or paper covers that must be thrown away. Suits are delivered to guests in muslin cloth covers.
  • Kitchen waste is systematically carefully segregated according to the four-bin system, and food waste is sent for composting. Guestrooms feature two bins – one for recyclables and another for non-recyclables.
  • 50-kilograms of wet garbage is deposited into six composting pits daily. The sale of vermicompost for use within and outside the Hiranandani complex generates an additional income.
  • With the help of an in-house tailor, the housekeeping department ensures that all spare or leftover fabric or linen is recycled into something useful. Double bed sheets that are no longer usable in the guestrooms owing to a small spot or tear are converted into single sheets. Bed sheets are also converted into pillow covers, while tablecloths are converted into wiping cloths and tray mats.

Rodas EcoTel Energy Management

  • The hotel does not use boilers to heat water for the bathrooms and kitchen; instead, the excess heat generated by the air conditioners is reused to heat water up to 50°C.
  • Another by-product of the air conditioning system – chilled water at -7°C – is reused by being circulated through Rodas’s central water purifying unit, in order to cool water that has been purified using ultra-violet rays and is otherwise fit for consumption.
  • The hotel maintains the Power Factor at 0.97 to 0.99, thereby earning a small discount from the local utility company, which encourages energy savings.

Rodas EcoTel Water Management

  • Taps are fitted with flow restrictors that operate on timers. Wash basins and toilets in public areas have sensors. The toilets in all guest bathrooms feature the Geberit concealed cistern, which uses only six litres of water per flush.
  • The hotel’s entire wastewater is diverted to a huge sewage treatment plant located within the Hiranandani Gardens.
  • Tent cards placed on the bed inform guests about the hotel’s ‘Save Our Planet’ linen and towel reuse program.

Rodas EcoTel Staff and Community Involvement

  • Each year prior to Ganesh Chaturthi, Rodas organises a workshop to teach school children to make Ganesh idols out of natural silt soil from Lake Powai and organic colours, with pistachio shells and pulses for decoration. In 2009, about 300-children from 18-schools (both regular schools and those for special needs) participated.
  • Following the Ganesh Visarjan (immersion of the idols into the sea), which marks the culmination of the 10-day Ganeshotsav festival, the Green Team gets together on the Lake Powai promenade to clean up the area.
  • The hotel management frequently interacts with school children from around the locality and talks to them about the importance of being environmentally friendly, ending the sessions with some lovely goodies from the kitchen.

Rodas EcoTel Environment Commitment

  • All refrigeration units (including walk-in coolers and deep freezers), use the gases 134A and 404A, which have zero ozone depletion potential, and are the most environmentally-friendly gases for such equipments. All detergents used have a very low/neutral pH value. Pest controlling is done herbally.
  • Disposable plastic/Styrofoam products are prohibited in the kitchen.
  • Pulses, rice and other essentials provided to the kitchen are delivered either in reusable cloth bags provided by the supplier, or in cloth bags stitched by Rodas’s in-house tailor out of leftover fabric available with housekeeping.
  • All hangers in the guestrooms’ wardrobe areas are made out of sawdust.
  • All promotional materials are made out of 50-75% post consumer content paper.

As Rodas approaches its ninth anniversary, new initiatives are in place – to create a second herb garden, and to make space available to increase the number of composting pits. Rodas manages to save approximately Rs1 lakh (USD 2,200) per year per room by engaging in environmentally-friendly practices. The case for going green is not just philanthropic but extremely business friendly.

For more information, refer to ECOTEL Version 2.0 – Reaching Out – By Shamsher Singh Mann and Deepika Thadani.