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Going Green: Walking the Talk – ITC Grand Central Mumbai


As far as Hotels go, the ITC – Grand Central looks as any 5 -star Hotel – Exclusive, elegant, ultra efficient and charming. Nothing new there, except that it is amongst the first chain of Hotels which are LEED Platinum certified.

Yes, as far as walking the talk of being sustainable, ITC  Hotels was already doing what few had even thought possible. So much so that when Bonn decided to study the methodologies for creating a program for Carbon credit, ITC-Sonar, Kolkata was a case study. It was already green and gone the carbon -credit way even before others knew what Carbon -credit meant.

This Earth Hour, I was pleasantly surprised to be invited by the Hotel to share the experience and responsibility of balancing Economy with Ecology. And I was amazed at the dedication of the management and staff towards the path to Green. They indeed are walking the talk.

I am not at all deluded on the fact that the modern construction and the high-carbon life-style we live has but a very narrow band-width vis – a -vis Sustainable practice; but what is telling –  is recognizing the fact that there is a path and following that path to its full potential. ITC – with its chain of Hotels, has done that. That must be commended and its method adopted by others both in and outside the trade.

It is one thing to follow and document guidelines while applying for a LEED rating, its entirely another ball-game to be consistent and not falter when no one is looking over the shoulder. This I put to test and evidence was produced both verbal and documented by the superbly efficient ITC Grand Central team. And where there was room for improvement, almost instantly my suggestions were accepted. This for the fact that ingenuity is in-built into the ethos which was evident in how they have tackled a seemingly unrecognised issue but a grave energy guzzler and given it the detailed attention it requires. The closet light and bathroom lights. In the former, the pressure switch provided under the door-panels fail to activate,if the shutters are not closed proper, leading to the light  remaining in a switched-on state. As for the Bathrooms, very few have the habit of shutting the lights out. A motion sensor eliminated the problem. Simple and effective.To those who would be comparing cost, kindly pause and recalculate it under a LCA (life cycle analysis) . The idea’s worth the money.

And then there was the winner;  we all understand the adage – ‘we win some and then we lose some’. It is not about the wining but having recognised that one can not win within a certain area, what one chooses to do about it, so as to bring out a positive result . In this, I again found to my delight that ITC- Grand Central  had found a way. And that was to educate and inform. So to the extent they are unable to walk the path of sustainability, due to factors beyond their immediate reach, the community around them balances it by doing their bit under the able guidance of the Hotel management and staff combine. And this CSR has a good cascading effect, for the staff who are involved first -hand everyday in the sustainable practice, slowly but surely take it back into their sphere of influence. Thus the grass-roots of India gets its awareness on Climate Change. Such noble thoughts must be multiplied.

And it just does not end here. Unknowing to most patrons, ITC – Grand Central has been helping them contribute to the betterment of the environment. In one of my previous articles long back, I had spoken about the problem of food-waste from 5 Star hotels. At Grand Central all food-waste is composted and fertilizer is created, which is then given to plant nurseries. The organic waste converter machine, is state of art which takes care of Landscape waste, food waste and uses non-toxic methods to arrive at the solution.

At the energy front, all ITC Hotel properties have an efficiency target of  700KCal/SqMt/day for HPL and Grand Central through its efforts work with 684 KCal/SqMt/day. A no mean effort considering many Hotels have the numbers hovering 750 -800.  Efficiency in energy conservation is the buzzword, from  water heating through steam condensate; automatic power factor controller unit; high-efficiency Forenta laundry system and capping it with Harmonic analysis on electrical distribution system, which very few practice to reduce their overall energy consumption. It is indeed a Grand effort towards the path of sustainability. And hope that even 3-4 star hotels start adopting these. For, sustainability in energy-efficiency has direct positive co-relation to monetary savings.

Many around the World gesture in a positive way by reducing or shutting down their power consumption during Earth Hour every year. But it is those who make the symbolic gesture as part and parcel of their corporate responsibility are the true Messiah for the well being of mother Earth. In ITC – Grand Central Mumbai, I experienced it. And my quest for more corporates following this path just increased.

 

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Green House Gas:the invisible Killer


Total greenhouse gas emissions in 2000, includ...

About 40% of the Global Green House Gas (GHG) is emitted through building related activities and 60% of  this pollution occur post occupancy in form of municipal waste  etcetera to indirect pollution via consumption of electricity, which generally coming from Thermal Power plants which burn coal & is high on emission of pollution . There is an immediate and urgent need to reduce this pollution to keep our health and comfort to the optimum. To do this we must design Energy Efficient Buildings (EEB) which is low on pollution.

Now let us understand what is “pollution” to appreciate the immediate and urgent need for each one of us to act to reduce it in every sphere of our life-style.

Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into a natural environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem i.e. physical systems or living organisms. Pollution became a popular issue after World War II, due to radioactive fallout from atomic warfare and testing. Then a non-nuclear event, “The Great Smog” of 1952 in London, killed at least 4000 people.

Pollution control is a term used in environmental management. In the hierarchy of controls, pollution prevention and waste minimization are more desirable than pollution control. In the field of land development, low impact development is a similar technique for the prevention of urban run-off.

Per capita anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissi...

Let us examine in brief the top 5 GHG : 1.CO2 :Carbon Dioxide. 2.CH4 :Methane. 3. N2O: Nitrous Oxide. 4. O3: Ozone  5. SP: Suspended Particles . A detailed report of the effects of these can be found in the internet, should one chooses to read. The chart shows how much GHG is emitted sector wise. However I think  SO2F2: Sulfuryl Fluoride should also be included in the top 5 as its more harmful than CO2.

Now there are also Naturally occurring greenhouse gases. They  include water vapour, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and ozone (O3). Several classes of halogenated substances that contain fluorine, chlorine, or bromine are also greenhouse gases, but they are, for the most part, solely a product of industrial activities. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are halocarbons that contain chlorine, while halocarbons that contain bromine are referred toas bromofluorocarbons (i.e., halons).  Some other fluorine containing halogenated substances—hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)—do not deplete stratospheric ozone but are potent greenhouse gases.There are also several gases that, although they do not have a commonly agreed upon direct radiative forcing effect, do influence the global radiation budget. These tropospheric gases— referred to as ambient air pollutants—include carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and tropospheric (ground level) ozone (O3). Tropospheric ozone is formed by two precursor pollutants, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the presence of ultraviolet light (sunlight). Aerosols—extremely small particles or liquid droplets—often composed of sulfur compounds, carbonaceous combustion products, crustal materials and other human induced pollutants— can affect the absorptive characteristics of the atmosphere.

So how does Pollution affect us, I mean the Human Body? The chart sums up most of it. However we live in and work in buildings which use various types of building materials most of them are cause of Environmental degradation which the common man is not aware of.

If we just take one example SF6;Now other than SF6 being 4,800 times worse than CO2 in the global warming scale, Sulfuryl fluoride is a gas fumigate that has been used — since the 1950s — to kill bugs and rodents in indoor structures, such as homes, warehouses, and railroad cars. It is also used in the Electricity sector, the magnesium industry, the electronic industry even as an adiabatic property applications, notably in tennis balls, shoe soles and also other applications, such gas-air tracer in research and leak detectors, for medical purposes, electronic applications, sound proof windows ( Double Glazed), degassing aluminium specialities etc.;

If we look more closely at global industrial emissions of CO2, CH4, N2O, and the ‘new’ gases HFCs, PFCs and SF6, then it shows that about half of them stem from CO2 emissions related to cement – clinker – production, ( a major product required for the building industry) about one-fifth can be attributed to adipic acid and nitric acid production and one-third stem from the three new gases, each with approximately equal contribution of about 10%.

The building industry is perhaps the biggest consumer of all that is produced in all other industrial sector, be it steel,cement, stone, wood,  leather, paper, paint, ceramic, glass, plastic, electrical & electronics; think of a product either in finished good or raw material, the building industry more often than not has a use for it. Thus emitting some form of pollution in the process. Purely from a Building Industry perspective without Sustainable Building design practice however high we build, we will fall prey to the catastrophe the GHG will bring in its wake in form of Global Warming & Climate Change.

To do this we need to develop life-style which is sustainable. Act without weighing the “additional cost factor” of going Green, which actually is very nominal and becomes Zero Sum within a very short time span. Internationaly we have Green Building programs such as LEED, BREEAM and GRIHA which is the Indian National rating system. India also has a Confederation of Indian Industries driven – Indian Green Building Council which is doing spectacular work.

I have condensed some of the references for easy read and adapted from Source(s):Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia; Observations of CAPIEL-UNIPEDE concerning the Revised IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories ; IPCC ; the U.S. EPA’s Global Warming web; Fluoride Action Network and others.

 

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