Bill Bensley launches white paper for industry to fight climate change

Eloise Hanson Eloise Hanson Uploaded 24 January 2020

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Worldwide: Celebrating 30 years since the creation of BENSLEY its founder has launched an open-source Sensible Sustainable Solutions white paper for the global hotel industry.

The white paper, aimed at hotel designers, owners and operators, covers three core pillars:

  • Build with purpose - for example, hotels that have a strong sense of local community, or creating new experiences and championing environmental issues, as well as educating guests and employees, can all increase profits.
  • Think locally and sustainably - this includes everything from branded amenities, water bottling plants, sourcing locally and farming/landscaping in a way that is sensitive to both the community and the environment.
  • Build sensibly - consider the building materials and energy conservation through architecture, as well as aspects such as up cycling and using solar panels.

"It is my hope that Sensible Sustainability Solutions will give hoteliers ideas to create, hand-in-hand with hotel operators, eco-friendly hotels - not just greenwashed - using ideas which align with owners' rigorous standards," said Bensley. "I have long believed that hotel design should take advantage of that human attention by way of teaching, providing experiences, and setting examples of sustainability. Through these ideas, we can save money, improve communities and better our environment. We really must understand that now, in the 11th hour of life on earth, that our world requires some serious rethinking. We are in the midst of the world's sixth extinction, and it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to save our planet."

He explains: "By issuing my standards to all hotel companies, I am sharing an unbranded, open-source archive of lessons which we have learnt about hotel design, purposes, and sustainability. Everything here is, I believe, low hanging fruit for the hospitality industry. It is my dream to have a positive impact on our planet's future by harvesting that fruit. In the next five years, over 15,000 new hotels will be built. For each of those, every hotel operations company will have a set of standards that they issue to architects like me, explaining how they want their hotel to stand apart from the rest. Very few, surprisingly few, of these standards specify concrete statements or changes regarding sustainability."

"I am done with designing lavish hotels just to put heads on beds," Bensley added. "Every hospitality project that we have on the drawing boards right now has a purpose and a candle to light. Those of us in hospitality - be it designers, owners or operators - have the power of reaching thousands of people through our hotels and spreading this message of purpose. We should shoulder more responsibility concerning issues such as education, clean accessible water, alternative energy, energy consumption, food waste, wildlife protection and conservation. Let's all lose the greenwash and do something real."

Cited throughout the paper are examples of hotels that showcase ways in which a hotel can be built and run sustainably, as well as the impact this can have on the environment and communities.

Of those included are Four Seasons Tented Camp and Four Seasons Koh Samui in Thailand; Capella Ubud in Bali; and the Siam Bangkok, Rosewood Luang Prabang, and JW Marriott Phu Quoc in Vietnam.

The Sensible Sustainable Solutions white paper can be downloaded here.

Bill Bensley is the founder of architecture and interior design atelier BENSLEY. With over three decades of experience designing over 200 hotels around the world, Bensley has since launched his own The Bensley Collection, comprising the Shinta Mani Siem Reap and the Shinta Mani Wild, located in Cambodia.

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