When Mandarin Oriental Macau opened in 2010, it joined the already established sustainability efforts of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group (MOHG). The parent company first issued corporate guidelines for sustainability in 2006, which was a step forward for the environment, the community, and the thousands of guests who stay in its hotels each year. “Our sustainability initiatives are a combination of all three factors,” says Martin Schnider, general manager at the Macau location. “In this age, environmental issues are forefront in everyone’s mind, and responsible companies live up to the expectations to help create a sustainable future for our world.”
Macau is one of the two special administrative regions (SARs) of the People’s Republic of China, but it isn’t at the top of the list when thinking of the world’s most sustainable regions, primarily because of its main industry. Situated 90 miles off the mainland coast of China and just an hour from Hong Kong by ferry, Macau’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism, and gambling in particular—some 30 million people visit Macau every year, and the SAR’s annual revenue from gambling is $33 billion, more than five times that of the Las Vegas Strip.
Still, a region’s revenue source does not necessarily correlate with its sustainability measures, as evidenced by Mandarin Oriental, Macau and other green buildings in the area. Designed by noted US architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox, the 213-room hotel is a tapering tower situated in a key entertainment locale. Overlooking Nam Van Lake and Macau Bay, the hotel’s dominant design feature is its façade, which is clad in rippled reflective glass that scatters and reflects light in a kaleidoscopic fashion and increases natural light in the hotel.
The building does more than just use natural light, however, and MOHG’s corporate policies provide the larger plan for minimizing consumption of energy and water and reducing both emissions and waste. By 2012, MOHG had met three of its four goals by reducing both energy use and emissions by 10 percent from their 2007 levels and developing a measurement process for the amount of waste sent to landfills. From there, however, it is up to each hotel to set goals and train colleagues to act in a manner that aligns with MOHG’s program. To that end, Mandarin Oriental Macau founded a 12-member committee of both executives and rank-and-file workers to meet once a month to determine how to take steps toward meeting the common objectives in four areas—waste management, energy management, hazardous chemicals, and social responsibility—each of which has a subcommittee. “As long as I’ve been working here, there’s always been an environmental issue that we’re concerned about and addressing,” Schnider says.
To move toward sustainability meant collecting data—determining how to measure waste, installing meters to track water use, and figuring out which chemicals are truly hazardous. In terms of social responsibility, the committee also relied on colleagues to select a reasonable local cause for the hotel to support.
One of those initiatives is a soap-recycling program. The hotel gives its partially used soap and shampoo to the Clean the World Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to reducing the waste created by discarded bath products by reconstituting and distributing the products to those in need, such as victims of the November 2013 typhoon in the Philippines. Over a six-month period in 2013, the hotel provided 200 kilograms of soap to the foundation.
The hotel is also replacing lighting in public areas and guest rooms with LED lights by the end of the first quarter in 2014. If the impact is consistent with similar projects at other MOHG hotels, it will be significant. For example, at the Grand Lapa Macau, another MOHG property, converting its neon light signage to LEDs in 2009 decreased those fixtures’ energy use by 88 percent.
So far, the efforts of Mandarin Oriental Macau have resulted in impressive numbers. Don Adam Bautista, director of engineering, says the hotel’s environmental target is to reduce energy use by 35 percent by 2016. To date, it’s already reduced that number by 27 percent, which was partly the result of a chiller optimization project to increase efficiency. The hotel also aims to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2016, and it’s already reduced its emissions by 28 percent to date.
Schnider says that although the hotel has had few challenges along the way, one hurdle was getting the hotel’s 200 employees on board because these are the people who collect the partially used soaps without throwing them away and turn the lights off in a room that isn’t being used. “From the guest’s perspective, the more we do, the happier they are,” Schnider says. “When you go to a five-star hotel in Asia and spend a certain amount of money on accommodation, you expect a certain commitment to sustainability. Guests actually question why we’re not doing more.”
Next project: W Hotel Taipei