Why? Because thinking about sustainability is the right thing to do…
Last year, Hotel Designs put sustainability and designing conscious spaces at the root of many of its editorial and feature concepts, including speaking on the topic at the Indepdnenet Hotel Hotel London where editor Hamish Kilburn unveiled new research on consumer demands for hotels to be more eco-friendly.
Following this, designer and architect Bill Bensley has unapologetically published White Paper research entitled: “Sensible Sustainability Solutions”, which is aimed towards the for the global hotel industry and incorporates more than three decades of experience from designing more than 200 hotels around the world.
“Let’s all lose the greenwash and do something real.” – Bill Bensley
Deeply passionate about conservation, sustainability and philanthropy and a man who seriously walks his talk, Bill wants to shout his message from the treetops for all to hear. “I am done with designing lavish hotels just to put heads on beds. Every hospitality project that we have on the drawing boards right now has a purpose and a candle to light. Those of us in hospitality – be it designers, owners or operators – have the power of reaching thousands of people through our hotels and spreading this message of purpose. We should shoulder more responsibility concerning issues such as education, clean accessible water, alternative energy, energy consumption, food waste, wildlife protection and conservation,” he said. “Let’s all lose the greenwash and do something real.”
The concise Sensible Sustainable Solutions White Paper outlines 20 suggestions for hotel designers, owners and operators on designing better hotels to help fight climate change and make the world a better place, covering three core pillars:
- Build with a purpose – hotels with a strong sense of local community, educating guests and employees, creating new experiences and championing environmental issues – all of this can increase profits.
- Think locally and sustainably – including everything from branded amenities, water bottling plants, sourcing locally and farming/landscaping in a way that is sensitive to both the community and environment.
- Build sensibly – the keys to building smart in terms of building materials and energy conservation through architecture, as well as aspects such as upcycling and using solar panels to harvest the sun. An amazing statistic: in ONE HOUR the sun provides more power than the entire world needs in one YEAR! Think about that!
Bensley explains: “By issuing my standards to all hotel companies, I am sharing an unbranded, open-source archive of lessons which we have learnt about hotel design, purposes, and sustainability. Everything here is, I believe, low hanging fruit for the hospitality industry. It is my dream to have a positive impact on our planet’s future by harvesting that fruit. In the next five years, more than 15,000 new hotels will be built. For each of those, every hotel operations company will have a set of standards that they issue to architects like me, explaining how they want their hotel to stand apart from the rest. Very few, surprisingly few, of these standards specify concrete statements or changes regarding sustainability.
“It is my hope that “Sensible Sustainability Solutions” will give hoteliers ideas to create, hand-in-hand with hotel operators, eco-friendly hotels – not just greenwashed – using ideas which align with owners’ rigorous standards. We promise it can be done, as we use these on every project! I have long believed that hotel design should take advantage of that human attention by way of teaching, providing experiences, and setting examples of sustainability. Through these ideas, we can save money, improve communities and better our environment. We really must understand, NOW, in the 11th hour of life on earth that our world requires some serious rethinking. We are in the midst of the world’s sixth extinction, and it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to save our planet.
“There is a fundamental illusion in the world today, that we are separate from nature, when the reality is, we are nature. This fundamental misunderstanding is what is wreaking havoc on the world’s environment; our society points to us as the superior life form on the plant. Why should anyone protect nature if they don’t think they are part of it? In focusing on our economy we have forgotten our age old wisdom that cross-culturally, from Eskimos to Aboriginals, says in a nutshell – if you disrespect the balance of nature, a price will be paid!”.
How? By Employing common sense
By way of this White Paper on all that Bensley has learnt in more than 30 years of designing and building hotels, he is sharing ideas, suggestions and lessons in building and running hotels sustainably, as well as using hotels as tools for change, both in terms of the environment but also for the communities they can support.
Throughout the paper the designer cites examples of hotels he has designed that showcase these principles, including Four Seasons Tented Camp and Four Seasons Koh Samui in Thailand, Capella Ubud in Bali, the Siam Bangkok, Rosewood Luang Prabang, JW Marriott Phu Quoc in Vietnam and his co-owned Shinta Mani and Bensley Collection Hotels in Cambodia.
Main image credit: Bensley/Shinta Mani Siem Reap