The business now comprises 126 bedrooms, the Waterfront Restaurant and Uile-Bheist brewery and distillery. As a family business the owners are deeply conscious of the legacy they are creating for their children and they are keen that their successful growth does not come with an environmental cost. Keen to lead the way to a more sustainable tourism industry, Glen Mhor Hotel have signed up to the Glasgow Declaration on climate Action in Tourism, is a Gold member of the Green Tourism Award scheme and supporters of the UN Global Sustainability Goals.
The Glen Mhor has expanded operations from the original building along the street into a series of adjoining houses and buildings. That expansion has meant that with each new property joining the hotel complex they inherited separate heating systems and multiple gas meters. The management team realised that this was unsustainable but the challenge was how to rationalise their energy use, free the business from fossil fuels and bring a series of historic buildings up to 21st century standards of energy performance. Their city centre location severely limited their options. Space limitations meant that conventional ground source energy systems, and wind power were out of the question and solar and PV opportunities can only provide a small part of the final solution.
The team at Glen Mhor recognised that the only future for tourism businesses is a sustainable one. It is what increasing numbers of visitors are most concerned about and rising energy costs mean that securing renewable sources of energy are critical to their business’s economic future as well as its environmental one. They are also keen to address resource scarcity by ensuring that they source everything as sustainably as possible and make the best use of the materials they have embracing circular economy principles as they grow the business
With the help of resources from the Business Energy Trust and the Scottish Government, they have examined their impacts and they are carefully assessing each new element as they add them to the business. The arrival of Covid at a key stage in the development plan delayed a full carbon impact assessment but they are working with Glasgow University during 2023 to undertake a full monitoring and assessment program to inform their plan to reach carbon zero.
The hotel is also taking a range of measures to reduce energy use across the business including LED lighting and motion sensors. They have also embedded best recycling practice throughout the business and introduced paperless systems wherever possible though the use of their own hospitality software HOP Software. Along with a dedicated sustainability manager, green champions have been appointed across the business to maintain environmental performance levels and identify areas that can be improved. They actively inspire colleagues and guests to improve climate literacy and environmental behaviours.
Working with suppliers is critical in reducing carbon impacts and the Hotel’s restaurant actively sources local produce whenever possible using a seasonal menu to optimise opportunities to reduce food carbon miles and the need for packaging. Guests are also encouraged to bring in their catches to be prepared by the Hotel chefs.
The business owners also own other hotels, bars and restaurants across Scotland so they can use their joint purchasing power to drive efficiencies and influence more sustainable practices.
As they have developed their ‘Uile-Bheist’ brewery/distillery and Waterside restaurant facilities, the Glen Mhor team has worked to ensure that architects and contractors are operating to the highest environmental standards. Using its own water supply and Solar PV for energy coupled with the most efficient new technologies available, ‘Uile-Bheist’ will be one of the lowest carbon brewery/distilleries in the country.
Heating is always going to be a key challenge to anyone running a hotel in Scotland and, knowing that solar was not a viable option, The Glen Mhor took a radical approach. They looked down. Consultations with Water Source Heating Pump Engineers revealed that their riverside location was particularly suitable to draw energy from boreholes. These have the potential to power a renewable heating plant that centralises all of their on-site requirements within one energy centre. Opened in 2022 it has effectively creating a mini district heating system that will look to remove all the gas meters from the property over the next year and see a saving of 250 tonnes of CO2 annually and will, ultimately, eliminate the need for gas.
The hotel’s electric charging points are being boosted with a bank of twelve as the car parking is reconfigured around the new brewery and distillery in 2023.
Once a full carbon impact assessment has been completed, the business will establish any offsetting required to achieve carbon neutrality, but their goal is to reach carbon zero under their own steam.
Glen Mhor takes their environmental commitment very seriously. Heads of Department meet weekly to report on progress and the green team comes together once a month to share learnings and drive the process forward. There is a commitment to improve the thermal performance of the Hotel buildings over time despite the difficulties presented by their historic nature. Despite its city centre location, the Hotel is actively encouraging biodiversity. The 30 trees on site are now home to winter nesting boxes for butterflies, insects and solitary bees.
Future of Tourism
We’ve joined the movement to reshape the Future of Tourism! We are excited to announce that Highland Tourism has signed the new set of Guiding Principles launched by the Future of Tourism Coalition. As a signatory, we commit to place destination needs at the centre of our recovery strategies and do our part to build a better tomorrow for travel and tourism. Read more here >>
We’ve signed up to Tourism Declares, an initiative that supports tourism businesses, organisations and individuals in declaring a climate emergency and taking purposeful action to reduce their carbon emissions as per the advice from The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to cut global carbon emissions to 55% below 2017 levels by 2030.
Sustainable Development Goals
We’ve subscribed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).