Setting a Precedent for Green Hotels

The_AltoAlto Hotel on Bourke is one of Melbourne’s newest boutique apartment hotels but, more fundamentally, it is one of the few hotels in Melbourne that is totally environmentally friendly.

Constructed four years ago in 2004/2005, the new property is partially built within the old heritage listed Australian Railways Union head office in Bourke St. This collaboration of a 19th century heritage building with modern construction has successfully created one of Melbourne’s premier four-star rated properties. But it is primarily the hotel’s green infrastructure that has gained it national attention.

Alto Hotel on Bourke owners, Suzanne and Ricardo Krauskopf have been in the hospitality industry for 38 years. So far, four of these years have been spent at Alto Hotel. During this time they have assisted in the hotel’s construction and the implementing of the sustainability solutions and have now taken the helm to steer this property into the future of ‘environmentally friendly accommodation’.

When asked the reasons for constructing a green hotel, Ricardo said, “It was a love for the environment, professional curiosity as a developer, promotional opportunities as a hotelier, concern for the future and the great operational savings, to name a few. We liked the challenge of building an environmentally friendly, boutique hotel in a major CBD location and then operate it with enthusiastic, sustainability orientated management and staff with the ultimate goal of obtaining a green star rating from AAA Tourism.”

To fit AAA Tourism’s green star rating classification, the hotel had to install certified products and solutions to save electricity and water, reduce carbon emissions, waste and energy (see page….).

“To save electricity, all rooms are fitted with energy saving key-tags that switch off all lighting and air-conditioning in the rooms and of all the primary lighting, that is ceiling lighting in rooms and public areas, 95% use only 15 watts or less per globe and of all the secondary lighting, that is wall and feature lighting, 70% uses 11 watts or less. As of 2008, we will gradually migrate from FLC lighting to LED lighting.”

Alto_bathroom

Alto Hotel uses only Green Earth Electricity, resulting in vastly reduced green house gas emissions. All Green Earth Electricity is delivered by Origin Energy and is produced either by wind, water or sun.

“To further assist with saving electricity, we have installed inverter air-conditioning technology that delivers a six-star energy consumption rating, rather than the normal two-star rating of most air-conditioning plant. All our windows open, something more and more guests are insisting on. Opening windows also help with air-conditioning as the plant is not asked to work 24 hours a day as is the case with sealed rooms. All windows up to the third floor are double-glazed. Those windows facing west are also made of a laminated, green glass in excess of 1cm thickness. This, combined with the double-glazing, lowers heat penetration in summer, restricts heat loss in winter and cuts down on noise pollution.”

To reduce energy consumption further, Alto Hotel uses an on demand gas, hot water system. The energy savings of this product is enormous, despite having 59 bathrooms and a commercial kitchen; they only hold 630l of hot water in reserve. This compares well when contrasted with a normal suburban household that typically uses a tank holding 200l in reserve.

“Because Australia has very low rainfall, we have installed water flow restrictors to all showers (8l/m) and taps (5l/m). The beauty of these restrictors is that guests do not experience any deficiency in the enjoyment of a good shower. All toilets have an AAA rating and work on a dual flush system, delivering only a 3l flush on half flush and 6l on full flush.

Gardening and yard cleaning duties are always carried out with rainwater harvested from our roof. Recently, we have installed a system that enables us to use rainwater in the cisterns of public-toilets servicing the restaurant and foyer, saving an additional 73 tonnes of water per year.

“Rather than using plastic products we try to source recyclable or bio-degradable plastics.

Currently, we are using bin-liners made of cornstarch. These liners completely degrade in water in less than four weeks. And rather than stocking personal miniature shampoo and conditioner bottles, we have installed re-fillable, pump-action, toiletry dispensers. These dispensers will hopefully never see a landfill and all chemicals used in them are biodegradable. The problem with the miniature plastic bottles is that most of them are not made of biodegradable plastic. And 100% of them will ultimately end up in landfill and when they do, they will most probably do so with more than 30% of their chemical content still in them.

Alto_Studio_Apartment

“To minimise common waste from the hotel ending up in landfill, our waste is separated into paper, organic (vegetable), plastic, glass and general. Organic waste is treated on premises and does not go to landfill. We break it down in an aero-compost bin and the by-product is then used as garden fertiliser.”

While there are numerous products that have been installed in the property, Mr Krauskopf said they did not go out of their way to make it obvious Alto Hotel is a green hotel; the solutions are more subtle than that.

“All the guest can see of the green products and solutions is the light green tint on the double glazed windows, the tiny AAA rated toilet cisterns, the card activated lighting, the FCL and LED light globes and the double chambered waste bins in the rooms. Of course you notice the absence of toiletries such as the miniature shampoos, conditioners and soaps. We all love them but they have been identified as among the worst polluters.”

What the guest can’t see is the on demand hot water system, the inverter air-conditioners, the double insulated walls, ceilings and floors, the aero bin for disposal of organic waste and the rainwater tank.

When Alto Hotel on Bourke was being constructed back in 2004, the biggest challenge the Krauskopfs faced was the lack of products and energy saving knowledge in the market.

Today, sustainability is the way of the future and a catchword everyone is familiar with in the wake of global warming. There are more energy efficient products readily available, tips on how to reduce carbon emissions and more knowledge in the issue of global warming.
Hopefully, this evolution in technology and information will make going green an easy, simple process for all accommodation complexes and therefore assist in reducing our impact on the environment, just as Suzanne and Ricardo have worked so hard at achieving at Alto Hotel on Bourke.

Want to showcase your green initiatives? Email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) or call (07) 5440 5322

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