Over three years, a dedicated 'green team' at Hotel Doolin set out to reduce the hotel’s carbon footprint, with a number of measures put in place.
With eco-conscious travellers opting out of unnecessary flight travel and staying closer to home, holidaying in Ireland has never been more appealing, and now Hotel Doolin have new cause to make their guests feel good.
We caught up with the hotel's HR, Purchasing and now, Green Manager, Aine Martin, to find out what they did – and what other small businesses can learn from their experience.
What was Hotel Doolin's main plan of action?
At the forefront of our plan was changing energy from oil to green electricity – we now use an ambient air-to-water heating system that has reduced our consumption from 465 tonnes of carbon in 2017 to a projected 110 tonnes by end of this year. We also changed all our lighting to LED.
We’re totally committed to planting ten native trees locally per wedding too, which has resulted in 1,700 trees in the last two years with each tree offsetting a tonne of carbon per annum.
Hotel Doolin's wedding barn designed by Noji / Photo: Aisling McCoy
Is the hotel heating fully run on an air-to-water system now or is it a %?
In 2017, the heating system of the hotel was changed from oil to a 100% air-to-water heating system, which maintains an ambient temperature of 21.5 degrees celsius across the hotel, 365 days of the year.
Is solar power used at all?
We’re looking forward to integrating solar across the hotel. This is our next big project.
Were there any other initiatives?
We also installed a 50-foot polytunnel where we grow lots of vegetables and herbs and we actively harvest rainwater for it. We banned the sale of plastic bottles and use of all single-use plastics, which was a bold move but one that our suppliers have generously supported us in bringing to life.
Our bedroom toiletries are organic from VOYA made in Sligo and are not in single-use bottles – we refill as we need to avoid them being thrown out. We also use compostable bin liners and we offer large complimentary glass bottles of water in each room.
Does the no plastic policy include supplies brought into the kitchen of the hotel?
With the volume of covers that we are serving each day, it would be very difficult to get all the ingredients ordered into the kitchen 100% plastic-free but we encourage suppliers to take packaging away with them and only choose companies with strong environmental policies.
How is this certified?
We worked with the Green Hospitality Programme, the national certification [via GreenTravel.ie], which included several visits, creating a five-year energy efficiency plan and finally being assessed, and in our case, awarded the Carbon Neutral12 GREENMark certification. Hotel Doolin is now the only premises in Ireland recognised as having achieved this certification.
What were the key areas you focused on?
There are four key areas: energy, water, waste and green purchasing. We are really mindful of water consumption and have set food waste targets that we’re all, as a team, accountable too. We encourage suppliers to take packaging away with them and we only choose suppliers with strong environmental policies in line with ours.
What were the easiest changes for your company to make?
The simplest most immediate change that we can all make, in our personal and business lives, is to change electricity to 100% green electricity. You start having an impact right away.
What were the most difficult?
The day-to-day business continues, so sometimes it can be challenging to set the time aside to achieve new environmental aims and objectives. In addition, communication and keeping both employees and customers informed is essential to the success of being a green business.
Is there generally a financial cost in going green?
We pay a monthly fee to AC Heating to cover the air-to-water heating system, so there was no upfront cost. The green electricity basically costs the same amount as the previous type of electricity that we were purchasing. We didn’t need to change radiators or make any big structural changes so it was cheaper than it might have been in another hotel.
Being green can bring about substantial cost savings and paybacks too. Guests and customers are far more eco-conscious today and want to stay, dine or get married at a venue that has a sustainable ethos.
By appealing to this, we’ve seen business at Hotel Doolin grow by 30 per cent. We have also found that employees want to work in a place that has a strong environmental ethos which is beneficial in attracting and retaining employees.
Put simply, going green is the right thing to do.
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