Saturday, May 21, 2022

Pinetrees Lodge is carbon neutral

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Pinetrees Lodge has just received carbon neutral certification under the Climate Active Program of the Australian Government. We’re the first full-service hotel in Australia to gain certification through the rigorous Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard.

Pinetrees Lodge team
The Pinetrees Lodge team with their Climate Active Carbon Neutral Certificate
Photo: supplied

The certification process was long, demanding and highly rewarding. Initially, we spent over five million dollars on renovations to help reduce our carbon footprint. The work included the refurbishment of all guest rooms (following solar passive design principles), a 95% conversion to LED lights, installation of new wiring and switch boards, installation of water saving taps and toilets, and installation of state-of-the-art Fuji wastewater systems. We also changed the restaurant and laundry operations to reduce water and power consumption, invested in new vehicles, reduced waste, installed worm farms and compost bins, and built a large organic market garden to limit food miles. All up, we reduced our power consumption by 30% and water consumption by 35%.

When the renovation program was finished, our General Manager (Denis Corcoran) analysed all sources of carbon emissions from the business – including electricity, freights, food and beverage, transport and more – and calculated an annual total of 1073 tonnes. These emissions were validated by independent consultants at Pangolin Associates and were then offset by our $19,000 investment in the Rimba Raya Biodiversity Project (a habitat protection project in Central Kalimantan with strong community-based initiatives) and the Protection of Tasmanian Native Forest Project (an initiative to expand our national conservation estate on private land). Both projects have a strong focus on conservation and forest restoration , and align well with our values and activities on the ground.

Pinetrees is also running the Sallywood Swamp Forest Restoration Project in our back paddock. Sallywood Swamp Forests are a Critically Endangered Ecological Community in NSW. Over 95% of the original forest coverage was destroyed by grazing, and only a few patches remain (the largest is near the LHI Golf Club).

In 2018, we partnered with the Lord Howe Island Board to seek funding to restore a two-hectare patch of forest, and in 2019, we received $100,000 from the NSW Government through the NSW Environmental Trust. During 2020, Pinetrees and LHI Board staff planted around 3000 trees and palms, and in 2021, we’ll build our own nursery and plant another 3000 trees and palms to the north of the current project site (behind the LHI Bowling Club). All going well, by 2030, Pinetrees and the LHI Board will have doubled the amount of Sallywood Swamp Forest on Lord Howe Island (and on the planet). This forest restoration is not included in our formal carbon offset calculations, but it’s probably one of our most important projects.

Our carbon neutral certification is a big step for Pinetrees and Lord Howe Island. We wanted to demonstrate that small businesses like ours can lead on environmental and social issues, and still be profitable. In our view, it now makes perfect business sense to offer holidays at a carbon neutral hotel. Consumers have plenty of choice about where they travel and how they engage with their destination, and our carbon neutral certification will provide another reason for guests to feel good about their stay (and hopefully return). As well as additional business, carbon neutrality is engaging our staff in some bigger picture ideas and helping us build genuine business to business relationships with new carbon neutral suppliers, such as Five Founders Australian Beef, Ross Hill Wines, Qantas and BioPack. After years of watching governments treat climate change like a political hot potato, we finally feel like we’re doing something useful.

The effort and cost associated with carbon neutral certification hasn’t affected our service or reputation. Pinetrees was TripAdvisor’s No. 1 Hotel in Australia in 2017, 2018 and 2020, and was also TripAdvisor’s No. 1 Hotel in the South Pacific in 2020, ahead of all hotels in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa and Tahiti.

If any climate aware businesses and organisations on Lord Howe would like to talk more about the process of carbon neutral certification, and potentially join the Climate Active family with us, then please contact Denis Cororan. He’d love to help!

Dani & Luke

About Climate Active

Climate Active is an ongoing partnership between the Australian Government and Australian business to drive voluntary climate action. The brand represents Australia’s collective effort to measure, reduce, and offset carbon emissions to lessen our negative impact on the environment.

The Climate Active initiative and Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard supports and guides businesses as they account for and reduce carbon emissions. The Climate Active stamp helps the community take action by making it easier to identify and choose brands that are making a real difference. It’s about making good decisions today, for a more sustainable tomorrow.

LHI Signal

The Climate Active carbon neutral certification is one of the most rigorous in the world.

This article appeared in The Lord Howe Island Signal, December 2020 – January 2021.

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