Responsibility requires people. People to take responsibility and make change happen. People to drive sustainability. We can only achieve sustainability by people stepping up to the challenge and taking responsibility.
At Mumbai airport, the Orchid Ecotel is one such example. Dr Vithal Kamat, in his autobiography, Idli, Orchid & Will Power, describes his passion to build the first five-star airport at Mumbai, arguing with his father, he remembers himself saying:
Today, people the world over are talking about preserving the environment. We will not talk about it; we will implement it! We will build and run a hotel entirely on resources provided by Nature. We will preserve Nature’s resources. It will be the ideal hotel.
The Orchid was the first five-star hotel in Asia to be awarded Ecotel certification when it opened in 1997. I visited a couple of years later when transiting Mumbai. I well remember being stunned by the 70-foot fountain in the atrium, which naturally cooled the core of the hotel and created a unique natural environment in the heart of an airport hotel. The hotel pool on the roof is five feet deep and acts as a heat barrier.
Guest Room amenities include herbal toiletries and stationery made from environmentally friendly material. They use potted plants instead of cut flowers and use paper that has at least 75% recycled content. Waste is sorted and they deploy the 3R strategy, reduce, reuse and recycle, Food waste is converted by red ants into organic vermiculture compost, reused in the hotel or sold.
- The hotel’s ceiling has a double-layered dome skylight which acts as a noise barrier and permits sunlight to enter the atrium of the hotel providing natural light and reducing the amount of energy utilized for lighting the lobby and corridors.
- The hotel uses a heat pump and energy-efficient lighting such as CFL and LED. The signage of the hotel is LED-based.
- Solar energy is harnessed through Solar panels that are installed on the roof of the hotel.
- The Master Control Panel in the Guest rooms includes an eco button, which enables the guest to conserve energy by increasing the room temperature by 2°C.
- Guests are encouraged to reuse their bed linen and towels, saving water
- Aerators in taps and Geberit flush systems in the bathrooms reduce water consumption by nearly 50% when compared to conventional ones.
- A Sewage Treatment Plant runs 24 hours and 7 days a week to ensure that wastewater is treated so that it can be reused for gardening – reducing the consumption of fresh water.
- The swimming pool water and bottled drinking water is purified with ozone, rather than chlorine.
If you are in Mumbai to stay or in transit be sure to visit- if only for a meal or a coffee. This hotel demonstrates what one man’s passion and commitment can achieve.