Thanks to the country’s high biodiversity, 7,107 islands and extensive total coastline—longer than that of the United States—beach resorts make up a huge part of the booming Philippine tourism industry. Many of them also happen to fall under the category of small- and medium-sized enterprises, for which the technology and resources to go green may seem out of reach.
Enter Zero Carbon Resorts (ZCR), a project under the European Union’s Switch-Asia program to promote sustainable energy consumption and production in the region. Funded in part by a grant of 1.7 million euros, it aims to enable local SMEs in the sector to implement energy-saving measures.
ZCR coordinator Anna Tungol, who works under implementing partner Philippine Green Building Council (PhilGBC), shared in an interview that resort owners and operators may be participate in the program at no cost. Interested groups need only to register on the ZCR website (zerocarbonresorts.eu) after which they will receive free resources, including a downloadable copy of the ZCR handbook, volume 1.
Through an online forum, member resorts will also receive access to free consulting services from sustainability experts. But Ms. Tungol warns that this requires certain information on a resort’s energy consumption, which means that owners will have to be truthful about their operations. “We want to give them strategies, but we have to know their baselines or what they’re doing now, so we can give them the appropriate solution to their problem,” she said, but added that all data would be confidential in that only the project’s partners would be able to view it. In return, these SMEs may receive recommendations on how they may improve or save energy in their establishments.
ZCR intends to conduct seminars in different parts of the country over the next few years to orient resorts on its three phases: The first, Reduce, involves simple measures that will allow them to improve power use. Subsequently, in the Replace stage, they may be asked to switch outdated appliances and equipment with more energy-efficient ones. Lastly, Redesign, may require that they to be totally retrofitted to become energy-self-sufficient and carbon neutral, hence the zero carbon label.
Last November, the first Reduce training was held for 26 travel lodges in Palawan. The isolated island is a major tourist destination for its preserved natural environment but it also needs to lessen its energy use.
“Because of the province’s physical makeup, Palawan tourism consumes more fossil fuel compared to other destinations in the country,” Governor Abraham B. Mitra said in a message, printed in the ZCR handbook. “Island resorts, mostly not within the current power grid of the province, run on power generator sets that use up more fuel and churn more carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.”
In an interview, Pablo Suarez, principal consultant for sustainable design at Green Arc and a lecturer at the November conference, listed several examples of energy conservation strategies. Passive techniques include shading, natural ventilation, proper orientation of buildings, and right sizing and location of windows, while active ones entail use of natural light and energy-efficient appliances.
Ms. Tungol said that the Palawan Frontier Group would be checked during the Replace seminar slated this June. “Have they improved? How much improvement have they achieved? From there we’ll see how they can [further] improve using Replace strategies,” she said.
Mr. Suarez shared that the resorts he had assisted faced challenges in the areas of design, equipment, and maintenance. “Let’s say, where they place their generators and how they are maintained. Generators produce a lot of pollution and noise, so where it’s located, how it’s enclosed, if it’s elevated from the ground—sometimes these are not ideal. Both equipment and environment are then prone to degradation,” he said.
Other conflicts go beyond the physical configuration. “I guess the packaging of the hotel and amenities, for these to be green, should be in the proper context of the local environment,” Mr. Suarez said. “For instance, you go there to enjoy the tropical weather; why will you use hot water?”
For more information on ZCR, resorts may e-mail the PhilGBC (email@example.com) or partner organization GrAT Center for Appropriate Technology (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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