Kuala Lumpur Hotels
TNA heads to Sunway Lagoon, one of Kuala Lumpur's most eco-conscious hospitality hotspots and got some insights from Alex Castaldi, Senior General Manager of Sunway City Kuala Lumpur Hotels, on what it takes to run sustainable hotels Sunway style.
1. What are some of the sustainability features of the newly renovated Sunway Resort Hotel?
Sustainability is a driving philosophy at Sunway, and many of the hotel’s high-tech upgrades, such as advanced air-conditioning systems, smart curtains, solar panels and motion-sensor LED lighting have further improved our efficiency. The use of plastic bags has been minimised and an urban hydroponic farm by Sunway XFarms supply healthy, farm-fresh produce to our restaurants including Gordon Ramsay Bar & Grill.
2. How does technology help you reduce the carbon footprint of your operation?
One way of reducing a company's carbon footprint is through investment in technological solutions. Some ways implemented at Sunway Resort Hotel includes: A custom-built app with every imaginable function available at a touch of a button – including check-in, receiving promotions and announcements, thus reducing the need of printed materials.
Energy saving escalator sensor system – the sensors will detect the passengers and switch on automatically to activate the escalator and employ a delayed switch off when nobody is using it.
Smart curtains in all guestrooms – Our curtains can track the sun to direct natural light into rooms. This helps conserve energy and electricity by lessening the use of electric lighting and air conditioners, reducing your carbon footprint.
Motion sensor lighting in all guestrooms that automatically switch off the lights when the room is vacant.
3. What are the ways you save food in your FnB operations?
Our Chefs practice portion control in the kitchen to avoid over-preparation of food which leads to food wastage. We have been collaborating with Kechara Soup Kitchen Society since 2017, where surplus food from buffets served at our hotels are distributed to the homeless and urban poor in Malaysia. Food scrap is composted in our on-site compost machine. The hotel’s compost plant was launched in 2019, and is sold to our landscaper to be used around Sunway City’s landscape and other projects.
4. What are some examples of sustainability practices saving money despite higher costs?
I would say sustainable practises come with a price but brings priceless value to the environment. We have a compost machine on-site that helps to reduce food waste that we dispose to landfill and a hydroponic farm that supplies self-grown vegetables for our restaurants. All these efforts save on costs in the long run.
5. What are the biggest challenges you face when you roll out your sustainability plan? Does technology help? Is there a sustainability task force?
We have a sustainability committee where during our regular meetings, facts and figures are shared, new initiatives are discussed to ensure smooth implementation and more. It is important that information flows within the hotel as we have quite a big workforce here. For an initiative to be rolled out, we will try and improvise so that it will be well fitted into our operation.
6. Do you only work with sustainable food producers?
We do support our local and sustainable food producers whose ingredients are widely used in our buffet and green meeting offerings, but we also work with various suppliers to cater to our guests’ needs and requests. We are always looking into different ways to improvise the value chain and minimise wastage. For example, eggs are delivered in reusable egg holder trays; vegetables are contained in a reusable basket and more.
7. Tell us about the transition of the disused tin mine to one of the greenest parcels of KL the Sunway group has put into place over the years.
Nearly five decades ago, in the 1980s, Sunway City Kuala Lumpur was little more than a wasteland, scarred by disused and abandoned mining pools, and virtually devoid of life following years of mining upheaval. It was then, our Sunway Group founder and chairman Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr. Jeffrey Cheah had a vision to build a vibrant, integrated and sustainable township on this 800-acre piece of land.
And through decades of ecological and environmental restoration initiatives, this desolate wasteland has transformed into a wonderland, cultivating a thriving biodiverse ecosystem, brimming with flora and fauna. We have transplanted more than 30,000 trees and palms to serve as green lungs in Sunway City Kuala Lumpur and it is home to more than 150 species of flora and fauna.
Sunway City Kuala Lumpur now serves a vibrant community of more than 200,000 people living, working, playing, and studying in a safe, healthy and connected environment. Sunway City Kuala Lumpur is the first to be recognised as a green integrated township by Malaysia's Green Building Index (GBI) and as a low-carbon city by Malaysia's Ministry of Environment and Water. Sunway City Kuala Lumpur also has its own public transport system, turning the township into a transit-oriented development with mass public transportation that serves more than 500,000 commuters in the vicinity. The six-kilometers Bus Rapid Transit – Sunway Line is linked to the public train station and the light rail system, with electric buses running on specially designed elevated bus lanes.
Sunway has also built a network of 4.3-kilometre-long pedestrian and elevated canopy walkways around Sunway City Kuala Lumpur, which provide a healthy and alternative means of getting around. Walkability, made possible by our very own 15-minute city, brings down carbon footprint per capita of residents, working communities, students and visitors as amenities and hotspots across Sunway City Kuala Lumpur can be reached within a 15-minute journey.
To ensure sustainable water supply, we have invested in a water treatment plant which can supply up to 8.5 million litres of water daily – enough to serve water consumption needs of 51,500 people. The water treatment plant treats and recycles water from the city’s two lakes – Sunway South Quay Lake and Sunway Lagoon – to produce potable drinking water. The two lakes also act as water catchment areas, receiving between 230 million to two billion litres of water a year and play an important role in storm water management as they retain surface run-off during heavy rainfall and mitigate the risk of flooding.
8. Sunway has the ability to own and manage its own properties. What are the 5 years sustainability plans ahead for something that is already so much in place?
Sunway has pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 by focusing on decarbonisation, resource management and pollution management efforts. To achieve this goal, we have implemented a carbon pricing framework. Sunway is among the first corporation in Asia, and the first in Malaysia, to introduce a carbon pricing framework into its business. Our business divisions will work towards their own decarbonisation targets and those that fail to meet these targets will also have an amount deducted from their bonus pool. We are also proud to share that we are the first in Malaysia to introduce a green lease program through our REIT arm. It is our latest initiative to promote and engage with our business partners to achieve decarbonisation.
Sunway has also established a set of five groupwide sustainability goals complete with 19 targets that are aligned with science-based targets. These goals and targets are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, taking into account the environmental, social and governance (ESG) pillars. The goals include:
1. Transforming our portfolios to low carbon sustainable cities
2. Advocating a responsible value chain
3. Developing a safe, equal and dignified workforce
4. Investing in community inclusivity
5. Respecting ethical principles
To help us continuously implement ESG metrics, we rely on experts in the field such as the Asia headquarters of the United Nations Sustainable Development Network (UN-SDSN) and the Jeffrey Sachs Center on Sustainable Development, both of which are housed at Sunway University in Sunway City Kuala Lumpur.