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"Going green is a win-win for the private sector and the planet"

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Brøchner Hotels has been a family run business from day one in 1982. In June 2013, my brother and I separated the company into two independent companies, and I formed the Arthur Hotel group.

Being climate-friendly has always been important to me. My philosophy is that if you value ethics highly in your business, the money will follow automatically. Despite the hotel group being a very small player in the market, I believed we could make a difference and hopefully inspire others to do so as well.
 
We began by offsetting our carbon emissions via the European Union Emissions Trading System. In cooperation with the small, climate-friendly Danish energy company Modstrøm, we bought energy offsets equal to our annual carbon emission at the hotels based on electricity, heat and linen consumption. By doing so, we were able not only to neutralize our own emissions, but also give financial support to energy producers investing in climate-friendly production methods. Thus we were able to call ourselves the first carbon neutral hotel in the world.

Besides buying offsets, we have created a 5 step climate plan that we have followed since 2008.

1. CO2 neutralization now and in the future.
2. Create energy savings.
3. Involve guests.
4. Establish a CO2 neutral hotel network.
5. Collaborate with climate networks/alliances including climate-friendly suppliers.

We have made a lot of  small adjustments, such as changing to more energy-friendly sources when it comes to light bulbs, heating, guest amenities and food, and always choose as green as possible when introducing new products. We bought electric cars for our guests to rent and we have charging stations at Hotel Kong Arthur for guests arriving by electric car.

The biggest change must be the reduction of our linen consumption by 22 per cent. This means less environmentally harmful detergent is used, energy consumption from the washing machines is cut down, transport of linen to and from the hotel is reduced, thereby reducing carbon emissions from transport, and so on.

This was all due to a simple idea from one of our maids: instead of leaving all towels visible in the bathrooms, we leave some of the towels in the cupboard with a hand-written post-it message on the bathroom mirror inviting the guest to help us protect the environment by only using the towels needed, with more available in the cupboard if necessary.

We also collaborate with suppliers supporting the green initiative. We buy primarily organic food products and bread, and our organic bread supplier even bought electric cars to make the deliveries after having seen our own. We have reduced transportation by reducing the frequency of milk deliveries. All these initiatives are based on ideas from employees in the company.

The private sector needs to wake up to the fact that going green is good for business in a number of ways.

First, as a small player, we have received a lot of attention, which has helped expand our client portfolio. Before becoming carbon neutral, it was difficult for us to attract the attention of big companies. However, a few years ago, the Danish government passed a law demanding that all medium-sized and large corporations in their annual accounts report their CSR accounting. This definitely put pressure on these companies’ green chain collaborations, which meant that suddenly international companies wanted us as their hotel partner.
 
Second, there is no doubt that being sustainable has an economical advantage for all types of businesses. Saving energy means saving money.

Third, thinking and acting green has an impact on the company internally. When making an effort for good causes such as protecting our planet, companies will automatically attract people with passion who want to be part of that company and contribute to the good cause. In this way, sustainability becomes a positive impact causal loop.

Last but not least, I have met and continue to meet so many inspiring and creative people throughout this process, who have helped me develop my business in many creative ways. In my view, going green in business is a win-win for the private sector and the planet.

This article is based on an interview which featured in Forbes magazine. Read more here.


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