Aitken Spence Hotels, pioneers of biomass energy in the Sri Lankan hospitality industry, recently partnered with atmosfair, Germany, to embark on a venture that will not only reduce the carbon emissions of the hotels but will also strengthen the communities in the areas the hotels are built in.
As an organization that is committed to combating climate change, Aitken Spence Hotels works with an Integrated Sustainability Policy and the choice to work towards helping both the environment and the communities they work was a natural extension, the company said in a statement.
Biomass was chosen over other forms of renewable energy as it offered the unique opportunity to support the communities they work in as well as to help combat climate change and reduce their environmental footprint. Speaking on the project Malin Hapugoda, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Hotels said, “We have gone as far as possible to be environment friendly and our most significant effort in this area is the decision to supplement the hotel’s climate change mitigation actions by replacing non-renewable fossil fuel with bio mass. We decided to opt for bio mass against other renewable energy options so that we can extend the benefits to the local communities”.
The partnership between Aitken Spence Hotels and atmosfair will spread its benefits to around 400 farmers and their families in the rural areas where the hotels operate, by helping them generate income from their barren and unfarmed lands. The project focuses on using regenerated wood supplied by the farmers to generate energy, thereby ensuring that no existing farm or forest land will be depleted as a result. Farmers will be provided with an incentive after they go through an identification and screening process to ascertain eligibility. Commenting on the initiative Executive Director of atmosfair, Dr. Dietrich Brockhagen said that, "this development shows the leadership of the private sector in combating climate change in Sri Lanka. The project carried out in close cooperation of Aitken Spence and atmosfair demonstrates that entrepreneurship and environmental protection can foster each other for the benefit of all."
The use of biomass has many fringe benefits as well. The cultivation of Gliricidia, which is used to generate energy, helps convert land that is lying fallow or barren into fertile lands once again. The reduction in the use of diesel has the double benefit of being more environmentally friendly and also saving the country’s foreign exchange, which would otherwise be spent on energy generation.
atmosfair is an organization that was set up in Germany in 2005 by the German Government Federal Environment Agency and Germanwatch, an environment and development organization to support carbon offsetting across the globe. atmosfair is currently working in Sri Lanka and is partnering with Aitken Spence Hotels on their initiative as it offers the rare combination of helping the planet and the people, two crucial factors in the triple bottom line.