While you might know the Fairmont as a luxury hotel chain, where elegance and history collide to product some of the most beautiful properties in Canada (check out the Banff Springs Hotel in Banff National Park or the Le Chateau Frontenac in the heart of Quebec City), you might not know that the Fairmont hotel chain is seriously committed to sustainability. So much in fact, that four of their properties have been awarded the 5 Green Key Award by the Hotel Association of Canada.

The Award is granted through the Green Key Eco-Rating Program, a program that assesses 5 operational areas of a property and 9 areas of sustainable practices and before handing out rankings that range on a scale of 1-5; 5 being the highest rating a hotel can achieve.

A hotel worthy of royal praise

With so many eco-friendly Fairmont hotels to choose from, it’s hard to highlight just one. Skipping westwards from Toronto where months ago we took a look at the famous honey produced atop the Fairmont Royal York, we head over to BC where we find one Fairmont deserving of its royal name.

The Fairmont Empress is the only hotel in Victoria to have received a 5 Green Key Award, and deservingly so. According to a press release published on the hotel’s website, the Empress is very busy coming up with innovative ways to cut down on energy and pave a positive path to sustainable practices in the workplace. Some of the hotel’s more notable achievements to date include:

  • The establishment of an active “Green Team” whose job it is to identify sustainable practices throughout all aspects of the hotel. For example: Controller by day, Green Team president by night, Michael Yarr led a hotel-wide waste audit with via a third-party organization that resulted in $18,000 worth of savings in waste hauling annually. The team’s efforts are supported by the hotel through continual sustainability training and education. This is one hotel that knows how to get their employees on board with sustainable initiatives in the workplace.
  • Providing charitable donations to multiple environmental organizations and supporting participation in environmental events like Bike to Work Week, that encourages employees to get involved in the energy-reducing efforts of the hotel and creates a bike friendly business.
  • Monitoring greenhouse gas emissions and purchasing carbon creates to offset emissions. This includes participating in the WWF Climate Savers Program and setting the goal of reducing emissions by more than 20% from 2006 to 2013.
  • Boasting a recycling program that diverts 28 tonnes of material monthly from landfill, saving 476 trees, 92.4 cubic yards of landfill, 42,560 liters of oil, 784,000 liters of water and 114,800 kW hours of electricity.

Why energy-savings are good for business

If you’re wondering whether or not taking on initiatives like those listed above are worth it, the answer is yes. Martin Leclerc, General Manager of the Empress says: “We strive to be outstanding neighbours through our actions and it just makes good business sense to do the environmentally right thing.” Yarr adds that “Being green is eco-chic. In addition to being exemplary role models, being green saves the hotel money.”

The Fairmont chain in fact, has been setting a green trend for quite some time, offering eco-friendly packages to hotel guests, establishing the Fairmont Green Partnership Program to improve waste management, sustainability, energy, and water conservation and partnering with key associations such as ENERGY STAR, the Hotel Association of Canada and the Green Key Eco-Rating Program, and the Pembina Institute for Appropriate Development.

While the hotel spread its focus across multiple streams, energy conservation is a priority. The hotel aims to reduce the size of its carbon footprint by investing in energy-efficient lighting and new technology including green power purchase, co-generation and upgraded equipment. The hotel chain has also taken steps towards measuring and managing energy performance. For example, in 2006, the Canadian portfolio underwent an energy audit which resulted in the identification of over 300 energy demand reduction projects. More can be read about green operations here.

Questions or comments about the Fairmont Empress Hotel? Leave them below! Interested in making energy-efficient improvements to your hotel? Check out these great rebates and try our interactive energy audit for free!

image credit: Cynthia.Lou