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Australian resort offers carbon neutral luxury

5th February 2010 Print
Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

Australia’s first conservation-based luxury resort, Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa, has now become the first hotel in the world to achieve carbon neutral certification from an internationally accredited greenhouse gas certification scheme.

carboNZero certification was issued within just three months of the opening of Emirates' new AUD125 million resort.

Tony Williams, Senior Vice President, Resorts & Projects, Emirates Hotels & Resorts, said: “Emirates has built its success upon operating at the highest level of credibility and integrity. When seeking carbon neutral status, naturally these same standards applied, which is why we chose a solution that was science-based, third party verified and aligned with both international best practice and the new Australian legislation.

“We describe Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa as a luxury conservation-based tourist destination and it is essential that we make every possible effort to reflect this. This certification is proof of our commitment to guests, to the environment and to Australia.”

carboNZero certification indicates that the greenhouse gas emissions associated with Wolgan Valley’s operations have been independently measured and verified in accordance with international standards. It also recognises the resort’s commitment to continuously managing and reducing its emissions, and neutralising unavoidable emissions through the purchase of a small quantity of verified carbon credits.

The carbon neutral status for Wolgan Valley was made possible through a combination of initiatives, including large-scale environmental rehabilitation programmes, removal of cattle from the property, and protection of existing remnant vegetation areas. To date, over 175,000 indigenous trees have been planted in wildlife corridors and along creek banks on site. The overall footprint of the resort was already relatively low, due to the application of green building principles in its design and construction, including the use of solar power and heat recovery. The resort even contracted its electricity supplier, Origin Energy, to supply 35 per cent of the resort’s power from renewable energy, the maximum amount currently available. Wolgan Valley is also dedicated to sourcing regional food and supplies from within a 100 mile radius, which further reduces the emissions associated with the transportation of these materials – as well as boosting the local economy.

Mr Williams added: “Although it was necessary to buy a small quantity of carbon credits to achieve carbon neutrality for Wolgan Valley, this will only be necessary for the first year or two of operation.

“As we implement further emissions reduction programmes on site, and as re-vegetation areas continue to grow, Wolgan Valley is likely to become completely carbon neutral. This will occur when newly planted trees mature sufficiently to absorb more carbon dioxide, as well as through continual operational improvements.”

carboNZero certification was issued following a greenhouse gas emissions inventory assessment carried out by Landcare Research New Zealand - one of the world’s leading organisations in the assessment of carbon footprints and forest sinks.

Professor Ann Smith from Landcare Research said: “The carboNZero certification process is carried out in accordance with ISO14064 and World Resources Institute standards. We are also accredited through JAS-ANZ, the government-appointed accreditation body for Australia and New Zealand. In achieving this certification, Emirates’ Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa has become not only the first carboNZero certified resort in the world, but also the first carbon neutral resort in the world to be certified through an accredited GHG programme. We also believe the certification is aligned with the requirements of the new Australian National Carbon Offset Standard.

“An integral part of the carboNZero certification process is independent verification, and full disclosure of the certification claims. These details have been posted on our website, alongside all other organisations that we have certified. This is another major difference between our certification process and others”.

Wolgan Valley’s carbon neutral status is in keeping with Emirates Hotels & Resorts’ commitment to environmental sustainability, which started with the development of its first resort, Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa in Dubai, more than a decade ago.

“Wolgan Valley continues this promise and provides our guests with a world of luxury at no cost to the environment,” Mr Williams commented. “The carbon neutral certification is only one part of the resort’s overall commitment to the environment – our significant investment in conservation and biodiversity protection goes beyond our carbon neutral status.”

Wolgan Valley’s greenhouse gas emissions and carbon neutral certification will be assessed and reviewed annually.

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Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa