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Going Green

‘Going Green: Case Study of the Europe Hotel and Resort, Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland’

Sustainability remains a focal point for the accommodation sector and initiatives to minimize the impact of hotel operations on the environment are increasingly important.  An excellent example of this is the Europe Hotel and Resort, Killarney, Ireland that has gone green with 100% renewable electricity to reduce emissions and environmental impact.

This blog, by key NTG partner TU Dublin, focuses on the sustainability efforts of the Europe Hotel and Resort and highlights the key employee green skills required in the hospitality and accommodation sector.  The Europe Hotel and Sales and Marketing Manager, David Cronin provided the following information and Environmental and Sustainability Policy for this case study and interview.

Killarney Hotels Sustainability Group

The Europe Hotel and Resort is a member of the Killarney Hotels Sustainability Group.  The group of 22 hotels is committed to striving to reduce the environmental impact of hotel services and activities.  The core value of the group is ‘we accept responsibility’ tohelp protect and sustain the environment for future generations of our guests and employees’.  In 2020, the group has focused on reducing hotel Carbon Emissions by 25% and operating a single use plastic free environment (Killarney Hotels Sustainability Group, 2020: Environmental and Sustainability Policy).

The Europe Hotel and Resort is part of Killarney Hotels, a collection of three unique properties in the South West of Ireland, including The Europe Hotel and Resort (5*), The Dunloe Hotel and Gardens (5*) and Ard na Sidhe Country House (4*).

Europe Hotel and Resort, Killarney

To illustrate current sustainability initiatives by the hotel, Europe Hotel and Resorts has undertaken the following key measures in addressing their commitment to sustainability:

100% Green Renewable Electricity and Renewable BioGas

As of September 2020, the Europe Hotel and Resort now operates on 100% Green Renewable and will shortly be switching their Gas supply to 100% renewable BioGas.

The Europe Hotel and Resorts highlight that these steps make:

‘a significant, positive and immediate change to how we operate our business, while still maintaining the incredible facilities and level of service that we are renowned for. Switching to 100% Renewable Electricity has enabled us to make a change that will have a direct positive impact, and proved a simple yet highly effective way to cut our carbon emissions and reduce our impact on the environment. As a family owned company, integrity has a high status and one principle is continually thinking of tomorrow today’ (Europe Hotel and Resort, 2020: Environmental and Sustainability Policy).

Killarney Hotels Farm: Sourcing Responsibly and Locally

Additionally, the hotel owner (Liebherr Family) own and operate one of the largest farms in Co. Kerry, which is between The Europe Hotel and Resort and The Dunloe Hotel and Gardens:

‘our farmers rear livestock to produce our own beef and lamb for the hotel menu, thus reducing the ‘food miles’ and ensuring our guests enjoy trustworthy, higher welfare and locally produced produce. The farm is home to sheep and to over 350 head cattle, a combination of Aberdeen Angus, Charolais and Limousin. Additionally, our Executive Chef devotes a huge amount of time in sourcing and supporting local artisan producers in Co. Kerry and Ireland. This ensures that our menus are seasonal, with low food miles and supports the

Local economy’ (Europe Hotel and Resort, 2020: Environmental and Sustainability Policy).

Additional key sustainability measures of the Europe Hotel and Resort include:

  • Seeking to conserve natural resources through the responsible use of energy, water and materials.
  • Monitoring and improving our recycling in areas such as energy consumption, reduction of waste materials and water consumption.
  • Working with suppliers to reduce carbon footprint and reduce the waste generated.
  • Promoting efficient energy management and utilization.
  • Monitoring water usage and encouraging water conservation.
  • Managing waste and developing recycling initiatives.
  • Communicating this policy and relevant environmental control to employees, suppliers and guests.
  • All of the hotel’s ‘to go’ coffee cups and lids are recyclable.
  • The hotel’s ‘to go’ picnic bags are reusable and the containers within are recyclable.
  • The hotel is replacing single use plastic straws with biodegradable alternatives.
  • Complimentary access to PressReader for all guests (paperless, digital newspapers and magazines)
  • The hotel also has 4 x electric vehicle charging points onsite.
  • The hotel is heavily focused on food sustainability and seasonality.

(Europe Hotel and Resort, 2020: Environmental and Sustainability Policy)

Additionally, customer engagement is important. We asked David Cronin, Group Sales and Marketing Manager (Killarney Hotels Ltd) how the hotel communicates its sustainability and environmental initiatives with customers.

David emphasized that:

‘Throughout the hotel we are using biodegradable and recyclable materials for many of the items that our customers interact with during their stay, such as takeaway cups, napkins etc. We have also heavily invested in customer experience technology such as online check in/check out, apps for digital key cards which helps reduce the need for plastic ones and complimentary access to PressReader for guests to enjoy digital versions of newspapers and magazines. All of these steps help reduce paper, plastic and general single use waste within the hotel. We invite guests to discover and view our policies and learn about our produce through our website and pre-stay communications. We are also active on our social media channels in regards to our green initiatives’.

David also highlighted the current green/sustainability employee skills required in the hospitality industry:

‘In truth, the biggest green/sustainability skills that employees need are awareness, consideration and knowledge. For a sustainable approach in hospitality to be a success, the entire team needs to work together for that goal. Simple measures such as conserving water and energy when in the workplace, utilizing the correct waste disposal bins, managing air conditioning etc. all lead to significant results. Clear communication from line mangers and colleagues as to best practices and also training during induction is very helpful. When working in such a special environment as we do, staff are reminded every day as to the importance of nature and our responsibility to protect it. Simple measures, executed correctly, on a daily basis by everyone, combined with our larger company initiatives really makes all of the difference’.

Conclusions: Hotel Sustainability and Green Skills

The Next Tourism Generation Skills Alliance recognizes the importance of sustainability in the accommodation sector and the key role that employees can play in reducing emissions and achieving environmental goals.

The Europe Hotel and Resort exemplifies best sustainable practice, including the use of renewable energy and a range of other innovative sustainable measures. Raising awareness of environmental issues and educating customers/visitors to the hotel is also important in achieving sustainability goals. This proactive approach to sustainability aims to protect the future and wellbeing of the locality and environment.

The importance of developing employee green skills is also noted in this blog. For example, initiatives adopted by the Europe Hotel: training, building employee awareness and knowledge of key sustainability measures and clear communication between managers and employees. These actions help to build employee skills in sustainability.     

The School of Hospitality Management and Tourism (TU Dublin) and the NTG Skills Alliance thank the Europe Hotel and Resort and David Cronin for sharing insights, knowledge and best practice in sustainability.

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