At RIU we are aware that water is important to life, as well as a strictly limited, indispensable asset. Therefore, we believe in responsible water use and strive to minimise waste and maximise reuse.
Total water savings
A series of measures for achieving rational water use led to highly satisfactory results in 2007, when the following is taken into consideration:
a) The number of overnight stays at RIU hotels in 2007 and;
b) Average consumption per stay in the trade.
An estimated 1 cubic hectometre (1 billion litres) of water was saved in 2007.
To appreciate the magnitude of the savings, consider the following:
1. The water saved would fill the Santiago Bernabéu football stadium in Madrid (Spain) to the brim or;
2. If an open faucet wasted 12 litres of water per minute (the average for a domestic faucet), it would take 158 and a half years to equal the volume of water saved or;
3. The savings would be equivalent to the annual water consumption in the homes of 17,000 Spaniards, according to the most recent data from the INE (Spain's National Institute of Statistics).
1- Saving water in hotel rooms
- Water in toilets:
An estimated one- third of domestic water consumption in developed countries is used by toilets. Therefore, we are implementing the following measures at RIU:
1. Reducing toilet tank volume: Water consumption in toilets has dropped from 14 litres per flush to between 6 and 9 litres of water, according to tank model.
2. Installing double flush mechanisms: Double flush mechanisms have 2 buttons and the volume of generated water varies according to whether only one button is pressed (which flushes 4 litres on average) or the two buttons are pressed at the same time (which completely empties the tank).
- Encouraging guests to save water:
1. Informative posters have been placed in rooms that invite guests to save water by reusing their towels.
2- Detecting and repairing drips and leaks in rooms
Maintenance work is essential at RIU, not only to present guests with an attractive, top-quality product at all times, but also to detect possible leaking pipes and repair them, for example.
This is particularly important in RIU's seasonal hotels, since they usually close at the end of autumn and stay closed until spring. For example, a dripping faucet in a room wastes between 1,000 and 2,000 litres of water a year. Toilet water losses could also reach 0.13 litres per minute, which would mean 70,000 litres over the course of an entire year. Detecting these leaks is essential for rational water use and reduced consumption.
3- Reusing water
- Company water treatment plants and reuse:
RIU is strongly committed to reusing the water consumed in its hotels and therefore has constructed its own water treatment plants in many of its destinations. These plants are capable of treating sewage water from toilets and kitchens and grey water from showers and washbasins, which is later reused to water gardens.
Destinations with their own water treatment and recycling plants:
Los Cabos (Mexico): 2 hotels with 1,544 rooms.
Puerto Plata (Dominican Republic): 3 hotels with 1,617 rooms.
Punta Cana (Dominican Republic): 5 hotels with 2,502 rooms.
Ocho Ríos (Jamaica): 1 hotel with 856 rooms.
Montego Bay (Jamaica): 1 hotel with 681 rooms.
Isla de Sal (Cape Verde): 2 hotels with 1,072 rooms.
Isla de Boavista (Cape Verde): 1 hotel with 750 rooms.
These facilities manage water in a total of 9,022 rooms, with a savings of nearly 40%.
More than 600 million litres of water are saved each year, when the average consumption per guest is calculated.
Returning to the above example, if an open faucet were to use 12 litres of water per minute, it would take 106.5 years to equal the volume of water saved.
- Installing double water circuits:
The hotel's water supply makes use of water from bathrooms. The advantage of installing double water circuits in hotels is that they allow soapy waters from showers and washbasins to be collected separately. Once treated, this water is reused in toilet tanks and to irrigate hotel gardens. Ç
This system is currently installed in:
Riu Guanacaste in Costa Rica, which is slated for inauguration in November 2009.
Riu em Caçao on Karamboa Island in Cape Verde, which is scheduled to open in 2010/2011.
These facilities will help manage water in approximately, 1,700 rooms and achieve a savings of up to 60%.
Thus, over 200 million litres of water a year will be saved, when average water consumption per guest is considered. Referring to the above comparison, if an open faucet wastes 12 litres of water per minute, it would take slightly longer than 35 years to equal the volume of water saved.
- Applying xerogardening techniques:
The xerogardening technique was born in the US after a prolonged drought in Colorado in the 1980s led to water restrictions and in turn, the need to create green spaces that were increasingly efficient in their water use. The results are gardens that need less water and fewer human and material resources as well, since they do not require intensive maintenance or many fertilisers or pesticides.
Some of RIU's hotels are located in zones where water is very scarce; these techniques have proven very effective in cutting water consumption.
To achieve this, xerogardening consists of 7 phases or steps:
1. Garden planning and design
Garden planning and design consists of studying factors such as the climate, the terrain's orientation and sunny and shady zones according to season, etc.. Gardens are divided into three zones during this phase according to water consumption: low, medium or high.
In order to achieve efficient gardens, high water consumption zone are reduced to the maximum and located in highly visible areas, such as swimming pools or pathways. These zones require intensive care, whereas medium consumption zones are watered less frequently. Finally, plants in the low consumption zone are watered by rain, except in quasi-desert zones, where they are watered sporadically.
In hotels such the Riu Santa Fe Cabo San Lucas (Mexico) and the Riu Palace Aruba (Aruba), we have opted for highly efficient gardens in which low consumption zones dominate the design, thus saving a considerable amount of water.
2. Analysing the soil
Soil analysis consists of studying the soil's physical and chemical characteristics, since they are key factors when selecting plants to be used. The analysis helps us ascertain whether it is necessary to add organic matter to enrich the soil or level zones to prevent water from running off and eroding the soil along with it.
3. Selecting appropriate plants
Plants must be chosen according to a garden's general design and taking into account where they will be placed, as well as soil, light and temperature conditions. The following criteria are followed during garden design (especially in new gardens): adaptation to the zone's climate, hours of sunshine required by the plants, water consumption, resistance to disease or insect infestations and pollution resistance.
4. Optimising grassy lawn zones
In summer, each square metre of grassy lawn consumes between 7 and 10 litres a day in warm countries such as Spain, so we attempt to optimise lawn use by locating it in high value added zones, such as swimming pools and pathways, which are the areas guests enjoy most.
5. Irrigating efficiently
The efficient irrigation principle entails applying measures such as a leak repair process, managed irrigation times and the provision of water to gardens via independent water consumption zones.
Mulching is one of the most beneficial practices that exist because it conserves the soil's humidity, cuts down on water losses from evaporation, decreases the need to supply water during dry spells, reduces the number of weeds (which also consume water and resources) and lastly, diminishes surface run-off and soil erosion.
Mulching achieves all of this and improves a garden's appearance as well.
Maintenance is key, since proper maintenance allows us to take advantage of all of the benefits of xerogardening. Thus, irrigation should be adjusted according to rainy periods, atmospheric humidity and hours of sunshine. Dry plants should be removed, lawns should be properly mowed and plant cover maintained.