The owners of a downtown Vancouver hotel are betting that their efforts to offer guests a green and eco-friendly stay will pay off.
The Best Western Plus Chateau Granville has invested several million dollars to reduce the hotel’s environmental footprint, as part of a multi-million dollar renovation project.
About four years ago, the hotel began a renovation project that saw a new lobby, restaurant, meeting rooms and canopy installed. The building’s concrete exterior was also repainted after receiving approval from the City of Vancouver.
General Manager Anastasios Theodoropoulos says that after the 2010 Winter Olympics, the focus turned to making the Chateau Granville a truly green hotel property.
“Vancouver has a goal for 2025 to become the greenest city in the world. We are part of this community, and we have to follow. And because at this point, we were renovating, we could do it easily,” says Theodoropoulos.
As part of the project, all of the lighting in the hotel was upgraded to LED energy saving bulbs. Electric car chargers were installed in the parkade for guests with electric vehicles.
The hotel has also made a major investment to make their housekeeping operation more eco-friendly. New washing machines and dryers were installed to clean linens. The washing machines weigh the linens, before dispensing just the right amount of water and detergent. This way, nothing is wasted. There is also a drying machine that takes damp linens, then dries and folds them in about one minute.
Theodoropoulos acknowledges purchasing the new equipment was expensive, but he says guests appreciate the environmentally-friendly way of cleaning the linens.
“It’s a very sophisticated system. It saves energy, water and the detergent used to clean the linens. It’s also better for the customers because they know they are not laying on a bed that has been treated with a lot of detergent.”
Video: Chateau Granville staff demonstrate how the new high-tech laundry machine works
He says that customers want to deal with eco-friendly hotels, and it’s important to companies and government when deciding where to book conventions.
“Canadians are very conscious of the environment, and governments want to deal with eco-friendly properties. This was a big step and a big expense for us.”
Ingrid Jarrett, President of the B.C. Hotel Association and GM at the Watermark Beach Resort in Osoyoos, agrees an eco-friendly hotel operation is attractive to guests.
“Many companies mandate a green hotel over a non-green hotel all other things being equal. It’s more than a trend, it’s a social awareness about our environment.”
The Watermark Beach Resort has made many of the same changes as the Chateau Granville, including installing LED lighting, recycling, composting and buying local.
The resort also supports local farm co-operatives and grows their own vegetables and herbs.
In addition to the eco-friendly physical improvements, the Chateau Granville has also implemented a comprehensive composting and recycling program.
As of 2015, all food scraps will be banned from Metro Vancouver landfills. The hotel decided to get a head start.
“About six months ago, we started separating everything, and this helps what goes to the landfill. It’s like a factory, separating everything from plastic to paper, to bones. it’s something we wanted to do, because we are a green property,” says Theodoropoulos. “Every room has bins to separate plastics, paper, and all the housekeepers, at the end of their shift, they take all the garbage down, and separate it.”
Theodoropoulos says the hotel is also planning several other projects to make the operation even more environmentally friendly.
“We are planning to install a thermostat in all the rooms, that when a guest enters the room, the lights will automatically turn on, and the heat will adjust to a certain temperature for winter or summer. The electronic eye in the thermostat will turn off all the lights, and save energy.”
In addition, the hotel will also be installing new double-glazed windows next year.
According to the EcoStay program — which helps hotels measure their carbon footprint — a typical 150-room Canadian hotel can produce three tonnes of greenhouses gases each day. That’s the same as driving 200 cars, heating and lighting 100 homes or taking 5,000 airplane flights.
As a member of the EcoStay program, two dollars from every stay at the Chateau Granville is collected to purchase carbon offset credits.
“It’s a meaningful and effective way of demonstrating our concern for the environment,” says Theodoropoulos.
“As a big operation, you cannot close your eyes and say ‘there’s a cost involved, so let’s postpone it.’ You have to take these steps.”