Being green doesn't mean being boring. At Gordon Campbell Gray's hotel One Aldwych, in London's West End, general manager Simon Hirst manages to balance luxury five-star service with successful environmental policies. "Waste is very last-century," he says. "Part of all our growing up - governments, businesses and people - is that we shouldn't waste resources."
A Green Team has been set up to reduce the impact of all business decisions on the environment. It meets once a week to discuss issues and has a budget of about £5,000 to support any projects.
Green policies are being written into every department's strategy. By next March, managers must commit to running departments in a more environmentally friendly way - by measures such as buying only energy-efficient goods and a lights-off policy.
But there's still work to be done. A recent Carbon Trust audit showed that the hotel still needs to reduce its carbon emissions.
So far, policies in place include:
- Recycling: The hotel currently recycles all paper, including cardboard, plastic cups and glass, and works closely with recycling company Loop, which also recycles One Aldwych's light bulbs and batteries.
- Results: Between April 2005 and March 2006, the hotel recycled 9,265kg of paper and 78,000kg of glass, and prevented 87,474kg of waste ending up in landfills. This means saving 139 trees, 2.78 million litres of water and 46.32 million kWh of energy.
- All toilets are fitted with EVAC, a vacuum drainage system similar to the flushing systems found on cruise ships. The EVAC system uses 80% less water than conventional systems, taking only one litre of water with every flush. The hotel also has a strict "no bleach" policy.
- Lighting in the building is controlled by the LEAX lighting system, with timing switches set in closets and service areas carefully managed using timer and control systems. All the lights have been converted to long-life and low-energy light bulbs.
- Low-toxicity paint is used throughout the hotel, and water softener is used to reduce the need for harmful antiscale chemicals.
- The bathroom toiletries are from Living Nature, a 100% pure and natural skin- and haircare range. The plastic bottles are sent back to be recycled - it's 20% more expensive to do so but, says Hirst: "In the big scale of things we can afford it."
- On a guest's first night, a copy of Change the World for a Fiver, a charity book describing 50 actions to change the world and make you feel good, is placed in rooms at turndown.
- Food: The hotel tries to use local produce. Its current Taste Britain menu focuses on quality regional produce such as Loch Duart salmon, Cumbrian mutton and line-caught Cornish mackerel. Meat and produce are bought from sustainable local suppliers. Organic jams, marmalades and cereals are available.
- Drink: Bottled water is supplied by Belu, which sends profits to clean-water projects. Jose organic tea is served.
- Community support: Managing director Gordon Campbell Gray is a vice-president of the Save the Children charity, so the hotel hosts fundraising events, including the annual Festival of Trees, out of which the proceeds of an auction of Christmas trees go to the charity.
- The hotel is about to sign up a plastic recycling company.