Sustainability Green Crown for ITC Hotels

With the maximum number of LEED Platinum Certified Properties, ITC Hotel Group has stayed committed to sustainability, safety and hygiene that have laid benchmarks for the industry.

DECADES BACK, they chose the Indian greeting, Namaste, as the enduring symbol of their brand experience. Eighteen months back, we saw the entire world, choose this form of greeting. If there is one example that showcases ITC Hotels brilliant forward strategy while staying rooted to the Indian ethos, it is this. As Namaste goes global, signifying warm welcome while being safely distant, it is remarkable how the ITC Hotel Group, made a conscious choice of introducing itself through this humble greeting way back in the 70s. The same humility permeates all processes, programmes, people and places of brand ITC Hotels.

The hospitality business of ITC Limited, ITC Hotel Group integrates the country’s fine tradition of hospitality with globally benchmarked services, with the luxury hotels reflecting the culture and ethos of each destination. With more than 100 properties across 70 destinations comprising luxury, premium, upscale and heritage segments, ITC Hotels is not just one of India’s leading luxury hotel chains but India’s largest hotel chain that is committed to sustainability, safety and hygiene in ways that have laid benchmarks for the industry. 

Today, ITC Hotels is the largest hotel chain in the world with the maximum number of LEED Platinum Certified Properties. Welcomhotel Amritsar is Punjab’s first LEED Platinum certified hotel! This Indian chain is today a global exemplar in sustainability with its guiding premise - Responsible Luxury, already a Harvard case study.

For over a decade now, ITC Hotels has been synonymous with sustainability in the hospitality industry and has pioneered the concept of Responsible Luxury – delivering luxury experiences with planet positive experiences embedded in product, process, people and progress. Responsible Luxury and sustainability now resonate with the minds and hearts of the discerning sections of society across generations. In fact, diners and guests are mindful and consciously seek dining destinations and stays recognised for sustainable and responsible practices.

ITC Maurya, New Delhi

“Responsible Luxury is luxury with a soul. It is an ethos that is expressed through an integrated and seamless experience of world-class products and services, delivered by a committed and sensitive team which has imbibed the philosophy. It is part of our DNA at ITC Hotels; luxury without compromising the earth and sustainability without compromising on luxury. Responsible Luxury is premised on the belief that luxury brands must have sustainable practices embedded in their business ethos,” shares Anil Chadha, Chief Operating Officer at ITC Hotels, adding, “We reimagine existing processes so that we can deliver enriching experiences for our guests, without compromising on the highest benchmark of quality, while creating a positive environmental and social footprint.”

Someone who has very closely watched the changing contours of the hospitality and tourism industry in India is Nakul Anand, Executive Director, ITC Ltd. Taking great pride in ITC Hotels’ ‘sustainable stewardship’, Anand credits the hotel team for pioneering Responsible Luxury initiatives into the big league internationally, in embedding mindful processes, nurturing green buildings and implementing programmes that have enriched our lives and environment. “The world is changing and we must steer that change in a positive direction. Supported by regulation and changing stakeholder perceptions and attitudes, sustainability agendas are converging on the hospitality industry, globally. And the reason that it is integral to our business philosophy and strategies at ITC Hotels is because we believe the biggest challenges and opportunities are within the global hospitality sector. It is here that the pace of change will be the fastest and the need to change the greatest,” shares Anand.

Constantly raising the bar, ITC Hotels has been taking innovative steps towards realising a greener and more sustainable world. Continuous efforts in the areas of energy conservation and efficiency, renewable energy and green buildings, have put ITC Hotels in a league of its own, making it the first hotel chain in the world to have all its premium luxury hotels rated LEED® Platinum, the highest rating awarded by US Green Building Council (U SGBC). It is also the first chain in the world to be accorded the DNV Platinum certification for WeAssure, its health, hygiene and safety programme. 

While ITC Windsor is the only hotel in the world certified with LEED Zero Carbon Certification by USGBC, ITC Kohenur and ITC Grand Chola are five-star Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) certified hotel properties as they have incorporated various sustainable practices in building design and operation. Then there is ITC Sonar, the only hotel in the world to earn carbon credits under the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism. ITC Maratha was the first to install an in-house biogas plant, the first of its kind in the city of Mumbai that ensures wet waste generated at the property is channelised into production of bio gas fuel which, in turn, is used to fuel the kitchen area.

ITC Sonar, Kolkata

That’s not all, the design of each ITC Hotel is based on green buildings which are energy efficient, utilise renewable energy, conserve and recycle water while taking concrete steps to preserve the eco-system around them. Rainwater harvesting, solar heating, room automation, 100 per cent usage of recycled water, food waste composting/ biogas generation is practiced across all the hotels. “Food waste is an obvious area of concern for every hotel, and ITC Hotels has spearheaded a large number of initiatives to address this challenge. For instance, the concept of the WelcomMeal, where guests can indulge in a well-balanced menu ranging from Indian to Oriental to Western but in smaller portions, thereby ensuring that there is less wastage,” says Chadha.

All ITC premium luxury hotels use around 35 per cent less energy than the USEPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) benchmark for large size luxury hotels. A total of 57 per cent electrical consumption at ITC Hotels and Welcomhotels is met through renewable sources. Welcomhotels endeavour to provide enriching experiences to guests, raising decibels for “Vocal for Local”. 

In line with ITC’s commitment to achieve zero effluent discharge by treating and recycling all the waste, innovative cutting edge technology and design integration have been enabled. To achieve 100 per cent waste recycling, measures have been implemented for waste segregation at source, with more than 99 per cent of the total solid waste either reused or recycled through innovative recycling programmes.

Sustainable material sourcing enhances the positive environmental footprint of ITC Hotels with more than 75 per cent paper, stationary and wood procured by cost is either FSC certified, sourced locally or recyclable. Low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paints and FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified wood is used for refurbishments and renovations. In addition, sustainable site development protects the ecological stability of the immediate surroundings and landscape.

“Our focussed attention towards  toward ‘elimination of single use plastic products’ has been a step towards offering planet positive experiences to our guests. The elimination of microplastics can only be possible by adopting the un-plastic strategy to find alternative innovative products,” says Chadha.

ITC Kohenur, Hyderabad

Not just this. Planning meticulously ITC Hotels installed effective water purification and glass bottling plant within the premises to produce international quality drinking water. This is the way to deliver luxury responsibly. Just through this thoughtful endeavour, the chain eliminated the usage of plastic water bottles much ahead of other chains. The Zero Mile water or SunyaAqua  involves no transportation. The first hotel in India to achieve drinking water positive status by producing water onsite with the highly advanced patented and ultra-efficient Atmospheric Water Generator (AWG) technology is ITC Grand Chola. The patented technology extracts water from the atmosphere, and this moisture in the air is replenished naturally and continuously, making it a viable and sustainable process.

A total of 57 per cent electrical consumption at ITC Hotels and Welcomhotels is met through renewable sources – many hotels like ITC Grand Chola, ITC Windsor, ITC Gardenia, ITC Maratha, ITC Grand Central, ITC Royal Bengal, ITC Sonar, ITC Rajputana, ITC Mughal, ITC Grand Bharat, Welcomhotel Sheraton New Delhi, Welcomhotel Bengaluru, Welcomhotel Coimbatore, Welcomhotel Chennai are fully powered by renewable electrical energy.

All ITC Hotels and Welcomhotels are ISO 14001 Environment Management System and ISO 22000 Food Safety Management Certified. Laying down several industry benchmarks, ITC Hotels pioneered concept of welcomlabs and set up sophisticated in-house state of the art F&B microbiology labs pan India. 

Implementation of innovative carbon mitigation programme such as installation of world’s first on-site Paraboloid Solar Concentrator (with 320 sqm reflective area) the hospitality industry, addresses the thermal requirements (steam and hot water) of the hotel, atmospheric water generator, waste to wealth- Bio Methanation, self-owned wind farms, fuel switch etc.

Welcomhotel Amritsar

ITC Hotels is also the first hotel chain in India to implement radiation harmoniser technology. As electromagnetic radiation pollution is one of the most significant forms of pollution that human activity has produced over the centuries and is invisible and insensible, radiation harmoniser technology creates healthier and more productive spaces. 

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan in which we must fervently believe and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success” , so said Pablo Picasso. Understanding the ITC Hotels journey of sustainability through Responsible Luxury exemplifies this completely. The art of hospitality is also a science at ITC Hotels as research & development occupies centrestage. Continuous ideation and knowledge sharing, crafting programmes, fine tuning them for adaptability and bringing ‘future forward’ closer every day.

As most of us sit back and savour ITC Hotels’ signature cuisine, few of us know that about 50 per cent of their produce is locally sourced. From ‘local love’ delights at every city hotel to composite regional flavours on a plate ‘Welcomsthalika’ at all Welcomhotels. And as we walk into the Capital’s finest hotel, ITC Maurya that hosts Heads of State, we need to acknowledge that it offers Clean Air at par or better than WHO standards.

Welcomhotel Shimla

Making the world look at India for laying down benchmarks in hospitality, ITC Hotels has carved a unique growth story that is rapidly expanding through the length and breadth of the country while connecting travellers with local ethos through interiors, design, food and beverage offerings and destination experiences. Each guest at ITC Hotels contributes and partakes of responsible hospitality. For instance, the ‘WelcomArt’ experience at ITC showcases Indian art through its public spaces. 

Icons are not made overnight. All these years as other chains embarked on different paths, ITC Hotels walked a different path, choosing ‘sustainability’. The team worked diligently on the green trajectory bringing ‘Responsible’ and ‘Luxury’ came together. Their underlying belief is that none of us can be individually well in a society that is unwell. “To us, Responsible Luxury transcends the limited paradigms of ‘eco’ or ‘green’. It encompasses a larger social consciousness that is committed to delivering the best of luxury in a responsible manner,” says Anand.

“Our journey continues. In the year 2009, we had thought of a new way of life for the next 10 years. Today, we are in the midst of creating a green print for the next 10 years,” sums up Chadha.

ITC Hotels is indeed a case study. The goodness of earth, water, air and light radiates through this chain. It is very clearly not a one-off wonder but an extremely well thought-out strategy by the leadership that saw the future much before others did. Clearly, sustainability has been the mantra not just for ITC Hotels but a philosophy the industry must embrace.

This article was published in BW hotelier issue dated '' with cover story titled 'RESPONSIBLE HOTELIERING ISSUE VOL 7, ISSUE 3'


Around The World