Green machine

Written on the 6 July 2009

The Sheraton Mirage is a Gold Coast icon. This month the Sheraton took out the environmental management category of the Gold Coast Business Excellence awards. Chief engineer Adam Lane stopped to chat to Gold Coast Business News about the path to achieving sustainability

Congratulations on winning a Gold Coast Business Excellence award. What has been crucial in the lead up to the award?
It has been crucial to establish an environmental culture at the resort. This has been achieved by the introduction of an environmental committee in February 2008 with representatives from all key departments within the resort. The committee meets monthly to discuss and implement environmental solutions, projects and celebrations which can be introduced into the resort’s operations.

You took out the environmental management category. Is the Sheraton Mirage carbon neutral?
It is very hard to be carbon neutral but I would love to see this one day. The resort’s carbon dioxide emissions are very low, this has been achieved by a range of large and small projects to reduce our water, gas and electricity consumption. These projects include water harvesting from Sheraton Mirage’s enormous roof and ensuring water flow controllers and aerators are fitted to all taps.
Installation of variable speed drives on the resort’s chilled water system and lighting timers and sensors fitted to all back-of-house lights are key projects undertaken to reduce our emissions.
A recycling plant has also been introduced which not only recycles all standard plastic, glass and paper but also batteries, metals, wood, compact fluorescent light globes and ink cartridges. Regular monitoring and audits are also carried on all plant equipment.

What about all the other players in the hospitality market, is it difficult to sort the carbon cowboys from the real sustainably conscious?
It is obvious who the environmentally conscious hotels are but unfortunately you need full support from both the operator and the owner before large projects which make a difference can be implemented. It is also crucial to have staff who are focused on environmental issues and have the knowledge and skills to undertake these projects.

Becoming a member of the Australian Institute of Hotel Engineers (AIHE) is a great way to learn from the industry leaders and discover new technologies. The association is holding the 2009 conference on the August 27 and 28 at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre with the focus this year being sustainability and innovation.

What difference will winning the award, and the sustainability of the resort, make to your marketing?
Winning this award allows our marketing and sales team to profile the resort as an environmental leader. We have found guests and conference organisers, especially of large scale events, constantly enquire about our environmental policy. Winning this award strengthens this important policy as we are now recognised by an independent organisation.

Can you explain the tangible changes visitors will see?
There are no major changes visitors will see as the majority of the projects implemented have been in our back-of-house areas and plant rooms. If you look hard, guests and visitors to the resort will see our water harvesting and recycling projects introduced. Trialling of new technologies may also be seen. Currently we are conducting trials for new light globes, urinal sensors and guest room air-conditioning and lighting wireless control system.

What spurred you into action to undertake these changes?
I am always reviewing and implementing change but with the support from key members of the environmental committee, senior management and staff these changes have become an easy process.

I believe no matter what position you hold in a company you must try to do all you can to help the environment; whether you are a housekeeping attendant you must ensure you recycle correctly and report maintenance defects, or if you are the general manager, you must drive large projects to reduce energy and water consumption. Every team member must play their part.

What is the biggest challenge facing the Sheraton Mirage?
The biggest challenge we are facing is the one that most industries are currently facing – the downturn in the economy. But we all remain positive about the future and for when the economy starts to improve.

How has the downturn affected occupancy rates and what is being done to combat this?
As with all of us in the tourism industry on the Gold Coast, business has been affected. Here at Sheraton Mirage our focus has been the creation of new partnership and business opportunities to ensure we offer our return and new clients innovative and value added experiences.

What has been most rewarding?
It is very rewarding to see the savings achieved by the implementation of successful environmental projects. This money can then be spent to enhance the guest experience at our resort. It is also rewarding to receive awards such as the Gold Coast Business Excellence Awards Environmental Management Award, and to be recognised for all the hard work is very satisfying.

The Sheraton Mirage has been on the market for some time. What is the latest from owner Raptis Group?
This is a matter for the resort owners. My team and I are focused on maintaining the property to the highest possible standard for our guests and implementing initiatives to make our hotel a leader in excellence.

JUNE WINNERS
EMERGING BUSINESS itac2
itac2 manufactures a new sporting grip for people who need to improve their gripping ability in all kinds of weather and for various sporting equipment.
itac2 is a water repellent, long-lasting and easy-to-apply wax gel.
The company have been operating for less than three years, but already export their product to five countries.

FAMILY BUSINESS Icecraft International
Icecraft International is an Australian family company and the inventors and sole manufacturers of large-scale fully re-usable ice sculpture moulds.
These moulds allow the users to create beautifully configured and detailed ice sculptures in their own freezer — no other equipment required.
Viv Lipke and her small team of five export to 116 countries.

MANUFACTURING AND CONSTRUCTION P&M Plastics
P&M Plastics and Rubber is now in its 19th year under the helm of Leon James.
Their services have grown over the years to include all facets of plastic fabrication, vacuum forming, waterjet, router and laser cutting.
P&M Plastics have recently been named 217 in the Top 400 Privately Owned businesses in Queensland for the second year on the Q400 list.

MAYOR’S INNOVATION GC AWARD Formblock
Formblock is a 15 - year-old local family company which is dedicated to developing and marketing innovative, state-of-the-art building products.
The patented formblock system is one of the world’s first successful, commercially manufactured mortarless masonry systems, which through the use of its unique plastic bridging mechanism, provides significant cost savings in time, concrete, formwork and labour requirements.

RETAIL, WHOLESALE AND DISTRIBUTION Fraser-Scott Group of Companies
The Fraser-Scott Group business model is founded on the proven formulae of both Robert and Laurie Fraser-Scott to identify, negotiate and manage development opportunities in hospitality, entertainment, childcare, shopping centre, retail, nursery and education.

TOURISM, HOSPITALITY AND RECREATION Radisson Resort
Radisson Resort Gold Coast is a 4.5 star resort-style hotel with 280 recently refurbished guest rooms and superior conference facilities.
The Resort recently won the national MEA for venues catering for 150 – 500 delegates and in 2008 won the Best Hotel Restaurant among others in a long line of accolades.

TRADES, PROFESSIONS AND SERVICES Lucy Cole Prestige Properties
Lucy Cole Prestige Properties started in 2000 and is now recognised as the leading boutique real estate agency in Queensland.
Lucy Cole, sells more than$100 million worth of property annually and is the only Gold Coast agency awarded membership of the elite Leading Agents of Australia.

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND MULTIMEDIA e-CBD
e-CBD is a full service digital agency providing website design and production, online marketing services, and a range of tools and directories designed to help businesses maximise their impact online. e-CBD have experienced greater than 50 per cent growth year-on-year for the past decade.


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