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continued from page 140 Natural Step, an international NGO dedicated to improving corporate sustainability. For now, you can calculate the environmental
gains from your Scandic sojourn (achieved by drinking the tap water, sharing
the jam, and staying in a place heated and lit by alternative energy sources)
by clicking on how many nights you’d like to stay and seeing just how many
lightbulbs pop up. That number is compared to a benchmark released by the
International Tourism Partnership, a hotel-industry NGO set up by the Prince
of Wales Trust. They’re not exact, but they’re close enough that Scandic can
tell that it’s making a difference.
“In a zero world,” says Scandic’s Jan
Peter Bergkvist, “we would have only
biomass for district heating and hydro.”
s WACLIGHTING COM
It might seem impossible to imagine a hotel with zero carbon emissions,
given that everything we do produces some form of waste, but Bergkvist has
real plans for the company. “Ten years ago emissions from our direct operations was five or so kilos per guest night,” he says. “Tonight we’re down to
2. 7 kilos.” He expects that by 2011, halfway to its zero deadline, it will have
halved that again. But how?
“How we heat our hotels, how we cool our hotels, how we light up our hotels,
and the way we travel within the company—that’s where we have a hundred
percent responsibility,” Bergkvist says. Since 1994, Scandic has been working
on reducing its dependence on fossil fuels, a goal helped by the Swedish and
Norwegian interest in hydropower, but hindered by the current reliance on
district heating plants, many of which still use natural gas. “In a zero world,
we would have only biomass for district heating and hydro and perhaps
wave energy for electricity,” Bergkvist says of Scandic’s idealized future.
“And obviously windmills.”
That’s the macroscale. On the microscale—or guest scale—there are the
usual water-saving devices and a three-bin recycling system in the guest
room. There is also eco-labeling, something that works particularly well in the
Scandinavian countries since the 1989 introduction of the Nordic Swan. “It’s
a symbol telling the customer that this is environmental—it’s a recognition
thing,” Bergkvist says. “And Scandic is the first eco-label-total chain in the
world.” In 2004, the company got the Nordic Swan for every one of its 68
Swedish properties, and it just received the stamp in all 109 of its Nordic hotels.
“It is doable,” Bergkvist says of getting to zero. “The technique is here.
It’s just a question of putting the investment into the right one.” But why
bother putting the investment in? Is Scandic just a company full of people
who want to save the world and are willing to do whatever it takes to do so?
Not quite. “There are two reasons for doing this,” he says. “One is that, when
you understand how it all hangs together, it’s a given that you start to use
renewable energy sources, biodegradable chemicals, and so on.” The other?
“As a businessman, you want to be more profitable than your competitors,”
he admits. “And one of the easiest ways today is to act in a sustainable way.”
It might seem crass, but it’s actually refreshing. Besides, Bergkvist points out,
if we destroy the world and only Scandic survives, “being there alone wouldn’t
be fun.” —Eva Hagberg