Colombo Courtyard shines as South Asia’s first CarbonNeutral city hotel

Wednesday, 11 June 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

tylish and eco-friendly, Colombo Courtyard is an urban boutique hotel that was designed to provide guests luxurious accommodation, dining and spa facilities with responsibility. The hotel has now stridden further in this effort, by taking steps to neutralise its carbon footprint, making it the first Carbon Neutral boutique city hotel in Asia. Global warming is an undeniable factor in the changing climate patterns of our world today, which is fast transforming landscapes, destroying life patterns of human and animal life, and increasing the frequency and impact of natural disasters. Despite the denial of climate change by some experts, the continuous study and research of weather patterns over the last decade have proven that global warming is, in fact, responsible for rising sea levels, melting of snow and ice, increased heat content of oceans and levels of humidity, and the shift in the timings of winter and spring seasons. Various causes, both natural and manmade, contribute to the growing warmth of our planet; but its alarming increase over the last century is undoubtedly a result of the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is the process by which absorption and emission of infrared radiation by gases in a planet’s atmosphere warm its lower atmosphere and surface. Major greenhouse gases (GHG) are emitted through various everyday human activities, such as using heat and electricity, and transportation. However, pollution caused by rapid industrialisation, deforestation and the careless utilisation of natural resources have increased the percentage of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, resulting in the current global warming crisis. This crisis calls for the attention of everyone, to pay attention to one’s carbon footprint and mitigate the ways in which we harm our planet. Colombo Courtyard was able to do this, with the expertise of Carbon Consulting Company (CCC), an organisation that strives to reduce the environmental impact of the corporate sector of Sri Lanka through a range of services that promote sustainable practices. The CCC carried out a GHG assessment to measure the emissions the hotel made, directly and indirectly, through its various activities in the last year. This GHG assessment was carried out in accordance with the GHG Protocol, developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the World Resources Institute (WRI), and the Carbon Disclosure Project. A GHG assessment quantifies all six Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydro fluorocarbons, sulphur hexafluoride and perfluorocarbons) where applicable and is measured in units of carbon dioxide equivalent. Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) is a distinct measure that describes how much global warming a given type and amount of greenhouse gas may cause, using the functionally equivalent amount or concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) as the reference. The assessment allowed the hotel to understand its impact on climate change and gain insight on how to better manage its carbon footprint. “Colombo Courtyard is a hotel that already focused on being environmentally-friendly, by taking energy saving initiatives and using upcycled materials,” explains CCC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sanith de S. Wijeyeratne, “which ensures that the hotel has a comparatively lower carbon footprint.” The assessment quantified the hotel’s carbon footprint under three scopes. Scope one measured direct emissions released from sources that are owned or controlled by the company, including corporate car fleets, captive power generation facilities, or fuel combustion for heat. Scope two measured indirect emissions associated from the generation of imported energy carriers such as electricity, heat and steam. Scope three measured all other indirect emission sources that are not released from sources mentioned under scope one and two, typically including business travel, waste disposal and outsourced activities. The one way in which corporate entities can achive carbon neutrality, according to Wijeyeratne, is by purchasing necessary carbon offsets to make its carbon footprint net zero. In this case, Colombo Courtyard was able to purchase carbon offsets that funded a methane capture project in China. The CCC also believes in the continuous effort of its clients to be environmentally-friendly, sustainable and ethical, even after the verification and certification process, therefore recommending a Carbon Management Response Plan (CMRP), which includes in-detail monitoring and mitigation strategies for reduced carbon footprint. By following these strategies, Colombo Courtyard is committed to report its emissions while it has implemented a sustainable energy saving and water efficiency practices with a proper waste management system. This requires careful and responsible methods of using lighting, heat and water, as well as cooking and food storage. As the first hotel to make a conscious effort to be entirely carbon neutral, Colombo Courtyard has taken a significant and exemplary step towards making our planet a safer, more habitable place to live in, and one can hope that this sets a trend amongst all other business entities across various sectors – to reduce carbon footprints and take strides toward being environmentally-friendly, sustainable and, most importantly, responsible citizens.