Climate change is one of the greatest threats that humanity faces. The tourism industry and moreover the hotel industry, should be the pioneers in efforts towards global agreement for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
The commitments of Greece and the rest EU countries adopted a comprehensive package of measures to reduce emissions. The objectives of these measures are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at least 20% by 2020 (compared with levels in 1990), to increase the market share of renewable energy resources at 20% and to reduce total energy consumption by 20% (compared to provisions). In order to promote the use of renewable energy resources, it was decided that the 10% of transport fuels have to come from biofuels, electricity or hydrogen.
European Union produces 2 billion tons of waste per year, some of them really hazardous. This quantity is being constantly increased through the years passing. Storage of waste is not a viable solution, and their destruction is not a good option as it involves very dense and polluting residues. The best solution remains the prevention of creating such wastes and moreover the recycle of the product’s components, where solutions are ecologically and economically sustainable.
Is has been estimated that at the hotel industry each resident produces daily 1 kg / day of waste. This quantity is very important and should be managed appropriately. The aim is to introduce the rule 4R (Reduce - Reuse - Recycle - Replenish), to reduce the waste production, to recycle, to recover and to reuse. 30% of hotel waste can be recovered and recycled.
A typical example is a hotel chain in Scandinavia, which separates waste into 22 different categories.
Water is one of the basic components of all life on earth and is essential in order to sustain it.
Water distribution over the world is uneven, and historically it has been badly managed whether or not it is scarce. There are not infinite supplies of water to meet the demands of everyone on the planet and already one person in five has no access to safe drinking water, so it not a resource we can take for granted.
97% of water is in the oceans, which cover 71% of the earth’s surface. 2%is fresh water, 2/3 of which is tied up as ice in glaciers and at the poles. This leaves approximately 1%as fresh water on the ground, in rivers, lakes, the atmosphere, and in the groundwater. However, with demand rising rapidly due to global population growth, and as water use per capita increases, that one per cent is under threat. Climate change is adding to the problem because our weather patterns have become less predictable and more pronounced. Whilst a number of areas are experiencing periods of prolonged drought, the rain that falls in some other areas is more violent. This leads to flooding and contamination of water supplies without sufficiently replenishing groundwater stocks.
The issues of availability and quality are closely linked, and reducing consumption is an important step in ensuring an adequate supply of good quality water.
Water and the hotel and tourism industry
Water is essential to the hotel and tourism industry- for food preparation, cleaning and hygiene, guest comfort and recreation. Hotels also depend upon the survival or their supply industries such as agriculture and the food and drink industries- none of which could function without sufficient water.
But there are a lot of problems in the tourism industry that are related with the sufficiency and the right management of water supplies. Reduced precipitation and increased evaporation in some regions is creating water storages and competition over water. Other threats to the industry are desertification and the increasing incidence of wildfires. Not only do they pose a risk to existing tourism infrastructure but they could affect future demand flows and seasonality. Similarly the increasing frequency of heavy precipitation in some regions is likely to lead to more floods and potential damage to historic architectural and cultural assets as wells as to tourism infrastructure. Travellers and tourists will either concentrate visits into shorter time periods or they will go elsewhere.
From an economical and management point of view, water accounts for around 10% of utility bills in many hotels. Saving water reduces the amount of wastewater that needs to be treated, thereby lessening the risk of pollution. Depending on how water-efficient they are to start with, hotels can reduce the amount of water consumed per guest per night by up to 50% compared with establishments with poor performance in water consumption.
Eco Hotels and water management
According to the above, water should be maintained and properly managed. An eco hotel complies with this rule, checks daily its water consumptions, properly maintains its facilities, informs its customers about the proper and not excessive use of water and uses appropriate water saving technologies.
Indoor Air Quality:
Indoor air is the ambient air inside a building, to which the building’s occupants (employees or the general public) are exposed. Indoor air quality is the quality of indoor air in terms of the proportions of normal atmospheric gases and the concentration of pollutants.
Indoor air is often more seriously polluted than outdoor air. Given that many of us spend around 90% of our time indoors, this is significant. For our general health, well-being and safety, human beings require a comfortable indoor temperature with air free from dust, irritants, pathogens, unpleasant odours, mould and mildew and other contaminants.
Sources of indoor air pollution:
Many factors affect indoor air quality in hotels and office buildings including:
- The level of outdoor pollution caused for example by smog, vehicle emissions and pesticides.
- Sources of indoor pollution including the materials used in the fabric of building, carpets and soft furnishings, smoking, cleaning chemicals and the use or perfumes and salon products.
- The rate of exchange between indoor and outdoor air in the form of ventilation rates and distribution.
- The amount of moisture in the indoor environment (humidity) which is considerably increased in hot humid climates, near kitchen areas and if the hotel has a gym, spa or indoor swimming pool. In serious cases this can lead to the growth of mould and mildew which has health implications.
Why is indoor air quality important?
Indoor air quality is of great importance in the hotel environment for several reasons- many of them with potentially significant financial implications:
- It is your legal responsibility to ensure the safety of your staff, guests and customers at all times. This includes for example the safe functioning, adequate ventilation and proper maintenance of boilers and heating systems to avoid creating toxic fumes such as carbon monoxide.
- You are also obliged not to pose a risk to public health, for example through creating conditions for the following:
- Legionnaires disease: this is a rare form of pneumonia that can me contracted through the inhalation of droplets of contaminated water transmitted in the form of spray. The risks are associated with poor maintenance of air-conditioning systems, showering facilities, whirlpool and spa baths and fountains.
- Certain moulds thrive in damp and humid conditions. They can cause hay-fever like symptoms and affect sufferers of chronic ling complaints such as asthma. People with lower immunity are also at risk or infection from moulds.
- Allergies can be exacerbated by air-conditioning, dust mites or materials to which sufferers are allergic in guest bedrooms.
- Guest satisfaction: often guests will not complain about a stuffy environment or a room that exacerbates any allergies they may have, but they are unlikely to return or recommend your hotel to others.
- Staff productivity: staff cannot work efficiently and effectively if they are uncomfortable. Poor indoor air quality will affect their concentration, productivity and how they relate to your clients. It can cause headaches, tiredness, dry or sore eyes or throat, skin irritation, dizziness and even nausea. So-called ‘Sick Building Syndrome’ can have a detrimental effect on long-term health.
- You will be able to reduce your operating costs through investment in modern, energy-efficient air-conditioning equipment and proper maintenance. This will also reduce CO2 emissions.
Food safety and hygiene means taking the necessary precautions in order to ensure that food is fit for human consumption and does not create an environmental health hazard. There are significant legal, ethical and business reasons why it should be part of any restaurant or food service establishment's overall approach to management and meeting quality standards.
It's obvious, that to ensure food safety and hygiene it is essential for a hotel, since from that fact depends its smooth operation and its reputation.
Food Safety Management:
The most important issues to address are often referred to as 'The Four C's':
4. Chilling (including freezing and thawing)
- Your kitchen should be designed with cleanliness and hygiene in mind. Floors, walls, ceilings and worktops should be smooth (to prevent dirt accumulating), easy to clean and in good repair. Light levels should be as close to good natural light as possible.
- Toilets must be sited away from areas where food is handled and there should be adequate hand basins and hygiene facilities for drying toilets.
- Ensure that ventilation is sufficient and that air does not flow from a contaminated into a clean area. Air filters should be easily accessible to enable regular cleaning and maintenance.
- All equipment, implements, utensils and chopping boards should be corrosion-resistant and should be cleaned carefully, particularly after working with raw meat, poultry and fish.
- Wash fruit and vegetables carefully to ensure there are no pesticide or other chemical residues.
2. Avoid cross-contamination:
- Organize the layout of the kitchen to enable a work-flow which will avoid cross-contamination between foods.
- Regularly disinfect the items people touch frequently such as work surfaces, sinks, taps, door handles, switches and can openers.
- Where possible use separate storage and chilling facilities for vegetables, dairy products, raw and cooked foods.
- If possible designate certain areas, equipment and sinks for raw food only
- Keep eggs separate from other foods, both when in their shells and once they have been cracked open. Never use eggs that are cracked or damaged. Avoid splashing raw egg on other foods, surfaces or dishes.
- Wrapping materials such as aluminum foil, plastic bags and cling film must be kept in clean storage to avoid contamination. Hands should be washed and dried before reaching for wrapping materials.
- Always use potable water for ice. Similarly, steam used in direct contact with food must not contain any substance that could be a hazard to health.
- It is crucial to remove as quickly as possible any food waste and other refuse from areas where food is present, so as to avoid any form of bacteria in the kitchen.
- Cook thoroughly until food is piping hot throughout and keep it hot until is served to the consumer.
- Never reheat food more than once.
- Cook eggs and recipes containing eggs thoroughly
- When using microwave cookers, ensure that food is heated properly throughout, following the manufacturers instructions regarding standing times and stirring during cooking.
- Barbecues must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected both after and before use. Do not let raw food touch or drip onto cooked food when adding food to the barbecue.
4. Chilling, freezing and thawing
- Refrigerators should operate at a temperature of between 1˚C and 4˚C . Freezers should be kept at -18˚C or below. Make sure you have a reliable thermometer (ideally an automatic monitoring system) and make regular checks to ensure it is functioning correctly.
- Set maximum temperatures for each item of refrigeration equipment and ensure that these are never exceeded.
- All cooked food that is being prepared in advance must be cooled as quickly as possible so that it spends as little time as possible in the "danger zone" between 5˚C and 68˚C , where bacteria multiply most quickly. Divide food into smaller batches to enable it to cool more quickly and put it in a cooler place. Stirring at intervals will also help speed up the cooling process.
- You should chill food from 70˚C to 3˚C or below within a period of 90 minutes. If you are preparing the food for freezing, it should be chilled from 70˚C to -18˚C in no more than 240 minutes.
- Do not overload refrigeration equipment or pack food in too tightly. If the cool air cannot circulate it will impair chilling performance (and energy efficiency).
- Check the temperature of refrigerated food as it is delivered and do not accept it if it is above food safe levels as it could be already be contaminated. Put frozen food into the freezer as soon as it is delivered.
- Keep cold food cold. If it is not to be served immediately, put it back in the refrigerator.
- Clean and defrost refrigeration equipment regularly and according to the manufacturer's instructions.