Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board has helped more than 120 Irish hospitality and tourism businesses over the past year, by subsidising a green training course, that will save them 30% off their utility bills when they reopen for business-  an average saving of €10,000 – €60,000 per year.

 Celebrity TV Chef Kevin Dundon’s Dunbrody House Hotel is one of the latest to take advantage of the fully subsidised course and believes sustainability offers a path out of the pandemic for the sector.

Over 120 businesses from the hospitality and travel sector have participated over the last six months in Ireland’s first ever state-subsidised green hospitality programme, Fifty Shades Greener

Founded in Liscannor, Co. Clare, by sustainability expert Raquel Noboa, Fifty Shades Greener saw a massive demand for their services during the pandemic. They offer a Green Business Programme to the Irish hospitality and tourism industry, which is subsidised by the Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board and Skills to Advance.

Participants on the programme range from hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions and even Croke Park. KWETB is the lead ETB driving this sustainability initiative, and has collaborated with other ETBs nationally.

Over the past 12 months Fifty Shades Greener has grown its client base more than 500% and has expanded from a one woman show to a team of eight, with operations in both the UK and Ireland and clients from all over the world. Participation in the programme is fully subsidised to all businesses in the hospitality and tourism sector in Ireland and teaches simple and costless steps to help reduce carbon emissions and cut operating costs by €10,000 – €60,000 per year on average, by lowering energy and water use and waste generation.

Noboa says: “Many people falsely believe you need to invest a lot of money to make businesses greener, but it’s possible to make really significant savings by making small behavioural changes. Many businesses are starting to become aware of this not just in hospitality but across the board. In the next five years, you will see many bringing on dedicated “Green Managers”.

Let’s take a 100 room hotel for example. If the team understands how to measure carbon emissions the hotel can save on average €30,000 per year. Awareness of food waste management can save another €6,000 on average. Even simple things like ensuring all staff turn off lights in unused rooms or close doors can save €3,000. If you fine-tune the water and heating units you’re looking at a potential further €5,000. It’s really significant savings for simple behavioural changes.”

Dunbrody House, owned by Kevin and Catherine Dundon, is well known for providing equal measures of luxury and sustainability and is currently participating in the course.  

We’re a nation known for our warm welcomes and our hospitality is second to none but our industry has really taken a hit this past year. Emerging from the pandemic, sustainability is great to focus on, as we get ready to reopen. We want our guests to enjoy their stay and feel confident that we are doing our best to ensure they have an enjoyable and green-friendly stay. There is potential for huge savings for the industry too by greening and Fifty Shade Greener lays out a clear framework to make these changes. Who would have thought that something as simple as turning the oven on an hour later in the mornings could save us €2,000 this coming year,. said Kevin. ”

Award-winning Head chef at Dunbrody House, Janice Casey-Bracken from Co. Tipperary is the designated Green Manager and is leading the team at Dunbrody House on their Fifty Shades Greener journey. She is also a member of the Chef’s Manifesto, is an advocate for the future 50 foods, and has signed on as a food system hero with the UN food systems summit. 

We have always been sustainability-focused here at Dunbrody House but we’re still learning. Our kitchen serves up seasonal produce grown in its very own garden. Our eggs come from our own hens and we are looking forward to welcoming our own pigs on the estate, so we know exactly what is coming into season to plan menus that create zero miles from farm to plate,” she said.

By working with Fifty Shades Greener we have been able to understand the impact each of our small efforts makes. In fact our green team now knows how to measure our carbon emissions, which is surprisingly easy and when our full workforce returns we will be sharing this knowledge with everyone. Raquel has given us a clear framework and we aim to be carbon neutral within the next five years,” she added.

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