Sydney may be a few years behind cities such as Singapore and Stockholm when it coms to environmental innovation, but these forward thinking hotels are attracting a new wave of eco-conscious travellers.
Beautiful buildings are popping up all over the city. Some are lined from top to bottom with vertical gardens, while others shimmer in the blazing sun, soaking up the rays through their myriad solar panels. Many of them play host to new sustainable hotels, offering visitors a chance to soak up the best of Sydney while keeping it clean, green and gorgeous.
Green spaces and innovative architecture in Sydney
Now that I’m in the midst of building an extension to my home, I have a newfound appreciation of great design; beautiful, energy-efficient, modern, with plenty of green incorporated in. One Central Park in Chippendale is one such building where the concept of green is so big it holds claim to having the world’s tallest vertical garden. The two-tower complex is one of Sydney’s most talked about architectural feats, and as soon as you crane your neck up you’ll see why. French architect firm Ateliers Jean Nouvel worked closely with botanist Patrick Blanc to create something extraordinary. At 150 metres tall, the hanging garden is made up of tens of thousands of plants and shrubs that hang on the building via 21 vertical panels.
Architect Bertram Beissel of Ateliers Jean Nouvel, who oversaw the construction of the project, is known to have identified it as “a flower for each resident and a bouquet to the city”. His words ring very true. The sustainable build also includes a heliostat, an internal water recycling plant and a tri-generation plant. It’s no surprise that it has won a plethora of awards and been awarded a five-star Green Star by the Green Building Council of Australia.
Another precinct awarded a Green Star is Green Square town centre. The six-star Green Star – Communities rating certifies it as meeting the world’s highest standards in governance, liveability, economic prosperity, environment and innovation.
There’s no doubt that buildings are offenders when it comes to greenhouse emissions, particularly large multi-storey affairs, which we will see more and more of as Sydney’s population grows. In fact, it’s expected that by 2030, about 90 per cent of all new homes in Sydney will be high-rise apartments. In response, the Smart Green Apartments program, launched in 2016 by the City of Sydney, was designed for owners and managers to work together with the aim of slashing energy bills and saving thousands on running and maintenance costs by using energy-efficient innovative design. To cement their dedication, the City of Sydney has committed to working with 20 apartment buildings each year for the next decade.
Sustainable hotels in Sydney
More and more travellers these days are enquiring about hotels and their sustainability practises, and many hotel brands are introducing initiatives to help out the planet.
At Shangri-La Hotel, guests use wooden key cards to access their rooms, and checking in and out is a paperless affair. Here, water comes in 100 per cent recyclable Just Water cartons and the ORCA clean food waste recycling technology diverts hotel food waste from landfill.
The recently opened Vibe Hotel Sydney Darling Harbour is starting right, with a commitment to not use single-use plastic items, as well as recycling and waste bins in all guest rooms and in-room motion senses that avoid unnecessary energy waste.
On-site compositing is the norm at Spicers Potts Point, with the compost collected going to the nearby Wayside Chapel for its community veggie patch. Here, the days of mini shampoo and conditioner containers and plastic water bottles are all but a distant memory. Instead, large refillable bottles are used for in-room toiletries and guests can fill up their own water bottles using the ACQuachiara microfiltered water system.
Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney also has a number of environmental programs in place, with energy efficiency and water conservation two of the big focuses.
InterContinental Sydney follows a similar direction, with great results in recent years in reducing energy and lowering water consumption.
Accor has the Planet 21 sustainable development program, which is essentially a roll-out of sustainable initiatives across its various hotels and brands. Projects, aims and outcomes differ, but the motivation is always the environment. Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour is one of Accor’s Sydney superstars. The hotel installed 350 solar panels (100 kilowatt-per-hour photovoltaic system) on its roof in 2017, which supply about 10 per cent of the electricity on the common area. It’s one of largest solar panel systems to be installed in the Sydney CBD.
Sustainable hotels for all budgets
It’s not just the mid and high-range hotels that are directing their efforts to the greater good. Sustainability is a big focus for budget-friendly brand YHA, with many of the Australian properties doing their bit for responsible travel. Sydney Harbour YHA has installed a 30 kilowatt-per-hour photovoltaic system, while Railway Square YHA has a 62 kilowatt-per-hour photovoltaic system and a solar-boosted hot-water system.
With businesses doing what they can for the environment, it’s so encouraging for the rest of us to do our part to keep Australia beautiful.
Looking to explore more of the greener side of Sydney? Check out these gorgeous green spaces throughout the city.