Assembling an ‘eco army’

Fairmont Dubai's eco-champion Alka Patel offers tips on how to set up your own green team - and how to make it effective.
Assembling an ‘eco army’
By Alka Patel
Tue 17 Jun 2008 04:00 AM

Last year I discussed how to start a green team at your hotel and took a look at what you could do at that level to establish environmental initiatives and then how to break them down into actionable parts.

Fairmont Hotels and Resorts' The Green Partnership Guide: A Practical Guide to Greening Your Hotel offers several key starting points to set you well on your way to launching an environmental programme at your hotel.

Successfully launched in more than 50 Fairmont properties worldwide, it provides a step-by-step approach to making realistic changes that make a real impact, whilst taking into account the environment in which your hotel operates.

The Fairmont Dubai green team was created more than two years ago. Since then some committee members have left to join other green teams at other Fairmont properties worldwide.

Each hotel department is represented on the green team. Key departments that require representation include engineering, stewarding, kitchen, rooms division, residence, food and beverage, purchasing, housekeeping and sales.

Representation from a member of the hotel's executive team is an asset for any team, to drive momentum and goals forward. From this group, an eco-champion should be elected to serve as team leader and chair for a minimum of one year.

This year's green team is led by director of rooms Chad Wood and is composed of both leaders and colleagues. The team meets every week to discuss concerns and issues in their respective areas and devising and implementing an action plan.

As important as setting goals and initiatives for the year is keeping your green team motivated. Being environmentally responsibility has no end. It is an ongoing process and there can be many obstacles along the road.

As Kermit the Frog once sang, "It's not easy being green". For this reason it's important to keep your green team motivated and having fun.

This holds true at my hotel, where the green team members participated in Earth Day on April 22, planting more than 20 trees around the hotel premises and at the staff accommodation in Al Quoz.

Before you think about how to motivate your team, consider whether your programme is set up in a way that will encourage people to respond. It will be easy to motivate a team if:

• You have a leader.

• You have ground rules.

• You have talked about and defined your goals.

• You give your team good reasons to participate in the initiatives.

• You know who you have to motivate and what their interests are.

• You have the support of senior management for your efforts.

Get organised

• Determine your yearly goals and actions as a team, and figure out how you will achieve them.

• Ask representatives from different departments what they see as the most pressing areas requiring change within their own departments. Maintain interest and enthusiasm

• Make your activities fun. Plan field trips, special green team breakfast meetings or brown bag lunches to be enjoyed outside.

• Develop some bonus programmes to get people excited.

• Ask people outside the green team what they think of the programme and survey employees to discover their interests.

• Create an environmental board, so the hotel's green team can inform its colleagues about its activities and provide meeting updates, photographs of green activities, green tips to incorporate in the work area and general updates and minutes from past meetings.

• Keep your general manager and the executive team in the loop.

Alka Patel is the public relations manager for The Fairmont Dubai.

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