Event Review: Sustainable Design in Hospitality panel

Hoteliers and designers convened at Cosentino’s showroom in D3 to discuss challenges, expectations and the advances being made in sustainable hotel design

Crowne Plaza Dubai Marina GM Georges Farhat, Rove Dubai Marina hotel manager Nila Pendarovski and LW Design associate Pooja Shah-Mulani
Crowne Plaza Dubai Marina GM Georges Farhat, Rove Dubai Marina hotel manager Nila Pendarovski and LW Design associate Pooja Shah-Mulani

On February 20, Cosentino, in partnership with Hotelier Middle East hosted a panel discussion at its showroom to address the pressing topic of sustainable hotel design. Panellists included Crowne Plaza Dubai Marina GM Georges Farhat, Rove Dubai Marina hotel manager Nila Pendarovski and LW Design associate Pooja Shah-Mulani.

The benefits and challenges of implementing sustainable design elements in were discussed by the members of the panel. Crowne Plaza Dubai Marina GM Georges Farhat highlighted the huge potential for energy and water savings by implementing green standards. He said: At Crowne Plaza Dubai Marina, sustainability underpins every aspect of operations, with the driving force being Green Engage - IHG's own sustainability programme. This program impacts all guest rooms, including meeting rooms and the ballroom which receive maximum daylight to reduce electricity usage from lighting.”

Rove Dubai Marina hotel manager Nila Pendarovski spoke about the success she’s had with the sustainable design features currently installed at her property: “The water used in the cooling towers is a recycled and treated water from grey water treatment system. Reducing carbon footprint is one of the key targets of the hotels’ performance. Year on year 40% of energy used to achieve hot water in the hotel comes from the solar panels installed on the roof.

“There are several benefits to implementing a cooling tower: It reuses the greywater to cool the AC in the hotel, therefore is reducing water consumption and overall electricity consumption. To reduce is one of the best ways to operate sustainably to conserve resources. It is also essential to have a BMS system in place to help you control consumption and monitor it effectively.”

Farhat confirmed that it’s becoming easier for properties to implement sustainable design features with more architects, consultants and project companies becoming aware of the standards that need to be adhered to. He said: “Awareness has increased significantly compared to a decade ago. This knowledge makes it easier for hotels to be sustainable, with guidelines from government authorities also helping. Dubai 2021 plan and vision is one such strategic development aim which envisions Dubai as ‘A Smart & Sustainable city’.”

However, Farhat admitted that there was still a way to go: “The main challenge is the execution of sustainability designs which must also take into consideration customer satisfaction. Sometimes these features are difficult to execute due to architectural hindrances.”

Guests are increasingly playing a role in driving the eco agenda forward. Farhat explained: “Whether business or leisure travellers are very well aware of environmental issues like global warming, landfill, air and water pollution etc. and they expect the hotels of their choice to include the best sustainable designs and features. Modern day travellers do not want their personal carbon foot print to increase due to their stay in a hotel.”

Pendarovski echoed the sentiment saying: “Millennials and Gen Z are significant influencers to help us to be more attentive to the environmental practices we have. We see a lot of comments on social media commenting on our methods. In general, sustainability has become an influence in the decision making for choosing a hotel for all generations, if not one of the main factors.”

Farhat added: “Generation Y & Z and millennials, are particularly demanding when it comes to their preference for sustainability in the hotel rooms and are a huge driving force behind the movement.”

From a design point of view, LW Design associate Pooja Shah-Mulani highlighted that price was often a concern when deciding for or against sustainable options. She also said that less natural materials should be used in design in favour of recycled or reconstituted products. However, Shah-Mulani also said that suppliers are starting to be more creative and are making innovative alternatives available to designers.

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