When one of Baguio’s premier hotels says that going green certainly delivers, other properties should start finding less reasons to delay joining the bandwagon.
Lower electricity and water costs, better food quality, and more positive consumer perception are all the results of Baguio Country Club (BCC)’s decision to embark on a gradual yet extensive environmentally sustainable operations.
With the formation of a “corporate green committee” in 2008, BCC began with small steps: seminars about the global ecological crisis, zero-waste program, energy and water conservation methods, and smoke-free Mondays for employees and guests.
Eventually, the campaign was integrated in the architecture, financial, operational, human resources, sales and marketing, and events operations of the club. Employees have been playing very crucial roles in the project, and BCC ensured that the campaign is communicated well “from the top management cascading down to the rank and file employees.” The extensive list of measures cover three key areas: power, water, and environmental conservation.
Whether green programs are worth the money and time are what separates today’s beneficiaries from properties still pulled back by doubts. BCC admitted that the price tag is not cheap. “The biodegradable take-out containers the Club us are far more expensive than what is commonly used by others. The paper bag used in our Pastry Shop is another example,” it said. One of BCC’s most serious investments has been the sewage treatment plant that recycles gray water to irrigate the golf course.
There were also initial negative impressions about the program among guests. BCC stopped sending hard copies of the complimentary hotel stays to guests, only served water when requested, imposed a “cleaning fee” on violators of the no-smoking policy (guests cannot smoke in their verandas), and insisted on using paper bags instead of plastic carriers.
“Every time they (security personnel) a vehicle emitting (polluting) smoke, our policy is not to allow them to enter the club,” said Chiu.
“Often, the largest hurdle to an environmental initiative’s adaptation is attitude change: convincing the guests, staff, and the employees to embrace a green advocacy is a herculean challenge,” the club said. But it still pursued its CSR into its fifth year, reaping more economic savings and establishing better relationships with residents of Baguio City and guests.
After half a decade, the club is raising energy and water savings to 10 percent by 2015. A treatment plant for the use of bathrooms is also slated together with solar panels and a policy that puts preference on products produced by Earth-conscious suppliers.