Raquel Noboa from Fifty Shades Greener describes how businesses can save on their utility bills by implementing a few simple changes

When it comes to sustainability in the hospitality sector, there’s arguably no-one in Ireland who knows more than Raquel Noboa. As founder of Fifty Shades Greener, Ireland’s first state-subsidised green hospitality training programme, she has been working with Irish hotels and restaurants to make their businesses greener and helping to save a lot of money along the way. Over the past few months she has been working with Dunbrody House Hotel, the team at Croke Park and several others on how to implement small changes that will save them up to 30% on their energy, water and waste bills this coming year. Here, Raquel shares a few top tips that all businesses in the hospitality industry can implement, for little to no overhead, that will result in substantial savings in the coming years.

1 Many hands make work lighter
The very first step for a successful green journey is to appoint a green manager and a green team. The green manager can be someone already working at the property and not necessarily a head of department. The most important thing is that they are allowed to work either a half day or a full day a week on the green programme.

2 If you don’t measure, you cannot manage
Measuring your business impact on the environment is easier than you think – all you need are your utility bills! Measuring your green Key Performance Indicators (energy, waste and water usage) will allow you to calculate your carbon emissions. Once you have set your baseline, you can start working towards a reduction of your footprint.

3 Our own behaviour matters
Your goal is to reduce your business impact on the environment. You can achieve this by reducing your energy, water use and waste production by simply changing your team’s behaviour around the use of those resources to become more efficient in your daily operations. Let’s take a 100-room hotel for example. If the team understands how to measure carbon emissions, the hotel can save on average €30,000 per year. Awareness of food waste management can save another €6,000, on average. Even simple things like ensuring all staff turn off lights in unused rooms or close doors can save €3,000. If you fine-tune the water and heating units, you’re looking at a potential further €5,000. Simple behavioural changes can result in really significant savings.

4 Transparency is key
Never claim you do more than you do, be clear and transparent about your green journey. Publish your green KPI’s on your website and social channels and let your customers, team and stakeholders know the plans you have to reduce your carbon emissions.

5 A policy without a plan is just words written on a piece of paper
Be clear on your goals and targets and devise an environmental action plan to achieve them; without an action plan, your environmental policy is worthless.

The Fifty Shades Greener Hospitality Program is subsidised by the Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board and SOLAS and is completely free for anyone in the hospitality and tourism sectors in Ireland. More information can be found at www.fiftyshadesgreener.ie

“We’re planning menus that create zero miles from farm to plate”

Head Chef at Dunbrody House and designated Green Manager, Janice Casey-Bracken, is leading the team on their Fifty Shades Greener journey. She is also a member of the Chef’s Manifesto, is an advocate for Future 50 Foods and has signed on as a food system hero with the UN food systems summit. “We have always been sustainability focused here at Dunbrody House but we’re still learning. Our kitchen serves up seasonal produce grown in its very own garden. Our eggs come from our own hens and we are looking forward to welcoming our own pigs on the estate, so we know exactly what is coming into season to plan menus that create zero miles from farm to plate.”

She added that by working with Fifty Shades Greener, she has been able to understand the impact that each small effort makes. “Our green team now knows how to measure our carbon emissions, which is surprisingly easy and when our full workforce returns, we will be sharing this knowledge with everyone. Raquel has given us a clear framework and we aim to be carbon neutral within the next five years.”