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Sandals embraces environmentally friendly energy alternatives

Published:Saturday | May 19, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Team members from the Sandals and Beaches Resorts in Negril, (from left) Ned Kerr, Ann-Marie Knott, Sadiq Miller, Stacey-Ann Thelwell, Nicola Brown, Gregory Williams, Samora Tate, Tracey Baugh, Shereka Ellison, and Denisha Powell, pause for a photo after staging a massive beach clean-up at the Bulls Bay Beach in Hanover on International Coastal Clean-up Day in 2011. Among the group's find at the public beach were bottles, cans, glass bottles, boxes, straws, and condom wrappers.-Contributed

OCHO RIOS, St Ann:ONE YEAR after launching Sandals Earthguard, powered by EarthCheck, Sandals Resorts International has begun to realise a reduction in the company's environmental footprint, improved operational efficiencies, and increased benefits to the company's host communities.

In Ocho Rios, Sandals Resorts International is harvesting well water in order to reduce the demand on the municipal supply. Through a joint partnership with Panasonic, Sandals Montego Bay is currently involved in a pilot project, which has suites that are fully powered by solar technology, allowing for the harnessing and storing of energy to power parts of the resort's operation.

In St Lucia, a commercial laundry facility that washes linen for all three resorts on that island was built at the Sandals Regency La Toc Golf Resort & Spa, drastically reducing water and energy usage.

Across all resorts, water from ice machines is recycled and used for irrigation purposes, and the company also recycles paper, cardboard, glass, and plastic bottles.

Energy management

In the energy-management sphere, the organisation has introduced 'intelligent rooms' featuring 'smart thermostats' and motion sensors for lighting and air-conditioning. Doors and windows across all properties have also been re-engineered to allow for efficient use of air-conditioning, while solar technology is used for piped water and swimming pool heating.

Additionally, the company's environmental health and safety (EHS) managers, stationed at all 20 of its luxury resorts across the Caribbean, have upgraded their expertise thanks to a recent week-long advanced training through EarthCheck. Fifteen team members are now certified EarthCheck co-ordinators and five accredited EarthCheck master trainer status.

EarthCheck coordinators were trained to lead the design, planning, and development of the resorts' EarthCheck programme and prepare and plan for EarthCheck Certification Services. EarthCheck master trainers were schooled on how to educate staff on EarthCheck processes and requirements and deliver internal EarthCheck training for managers and staff.

Earning accolades

This investment in operational improvements, along with ongoing community outreach activities, has earned the company environmental stewardship accolades and certification. The luxury-included resort chain's achievements, based on stringent and regular third-party audits, have successfully validated the implementation of the Sandals Earthguard programme. EarthCheck is the world's leading certification and benchmarking programme for the travel and tourism industry, and Sandals Resorts is now the only hotel company in the world to receive two platinum certifications - the highest level possible - from EarthCheck.

Sandals Grande Riviera Beach and Villa Golf Resort in Ocho Rios received this certification for the first time, while Sandals Negril retains the platinum status it previously earned under Green Globe in 2008. Resorts must achieve certification for 10 or more continuous years from a recognised environmental auditing body before they can receive platinum designation. Certification includes satisfying EarthCheck criteria in key performance areas including waste minimisation, water management, air-quality protection, and the effectiveness of sponsored community projects.

EarthCheck's chief executive officer, Stewart Moore, in commending the organisation, said: "This achievement highlights the long-term commitment that Sandals Resorts has shown to the communities and environment of the Caribbean. They're well ahead of most governments and industry players globally as a result of their efforts and serve as a leader in the field of sustainable practices."