This Aussie hotel just became the first to achieve carbon neutrality

This Aussie hotel just became the first to achieve carbon neutrality

Get your (eco-friendly) party poppers ready, because Pinetrees Lodge at Lord Howe Island has just achieved carbon-neutral certification under the federal government’s Climate Active Program!

That means the property is the first full-service hotel in Australia to gain certification through the rigorous program.

To achieve this certification, Pinetrees Lodge went through all sources of carbon emissions from the business – including electricity, freight, food and beverage, transport and more – and calculated an annual total of 1,073 tonnes.

“The certification process was long, demanding, but highly rewarding,” Luke Hanson, owner of Pinetrees Lodge, said.

“Initially, we spent over five million dollars on renovations to help reduce our carbon footprint, including the refurbishment of all guest rooms (following solar-passive design principles), a 95 per cent conversion to LED lights, installation of new wiring and switchboards, a new commercial refrigeration plant, water-saving taps and toilets, and the 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 per cent and water consumption by 35 per cent. It is a fantastic outcome.”

Image source: Pinetrees Lodge

These emissions were validated by independent consultants at Pangolin Associates, and were then offset by a $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 their national conservation estate on private land).

Both projects have a strong focus on conservation and forest restoration, and align well with the lodge’s values and activities on the ground, according to Hanson.

“We wanted to demonstrate that small businesses like ours can lead on environmental and social issues, and still be profitable,” he said.

“In our view, it now makes perfect business sense to offer holidays at a carbon-neutral hotel.

“Travellers 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.”

Pinetrees is also running the Sallywood Swamp Forest Restoration Project in the lodge’s back paddock.

Image source: Pinetrees Lodge

Sallywood Swamp Forests are a critically endangered ecological community in NSW. Over 95 per cent of the original forest coverage was destroyed by grazing, and only a few patches remain.

In 2018, Pinetrees Lodge partnered with the Lord Howe Island (LHI) board to seek funding to restore a two-hectare patch of forest, and in 2019, received $100,000 from the NSW government through the NSW Environmental Trust.

During 2020, Pinetrees and LHI board staff planted around 3,000 trees and palms, and in 2021, built their own nursery and planted another 3,000 trees and palms to the north of the current project site.

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