Katoomba’s Mountain Heritage Hotel & Spa Retreat, on the cusp of the Jamison Valley, is serious about its environmental impact and is making progressive change. The rewards are encouraging and have ensured successful business outcomes - cost reduction (higher profit), improved business efficiency and market awareness, invariable ethical business practices and client satisfaction. Due recognition has reverberated in the community with a double win at the 2016 Blue Mountains Business Awards and a silver rating from the Low Carbon Living Program. “Running an organisation actively reducing its carbon footprint has been an exceptionally positive experience”, says General Manager Eric Sward.

Eric began the journey of reducing the hotel’s carbon footprint by finding a mentor – an energy management consultant, Eco Profit Management, to help pave the way. Audits were conducted, waste, water and energy usage reviewed and the accumulated carbon footprint calculated.  A sustainability policy was drawn up and a Sustainable Supply Chain Management plan (SSCM) was put into effect.

Implementation began immediately - the evaluation of solar power and a hydronic hot water system, the re-negotiation of contracts with energy supplier ERM for favourable competitive rates, investment in Aircon Off Smart Remote controlled energy-efficient air-conditioning and sourcing an ethical, organic linen supplier and local laundry service provider. 

The decision to choose an eco-friendly linen supplier was an easy one. Lithgow’s Access Industries, a not-for-profit that supplies and launders the hotel’s linen and provides employment opportunities to people with disabilities, recommended EcoLinen Australia.  Founded by textile importer and supplier Tim Ower Mohavi and his wife 15 years ago, EcoLinen is the first certified organic bed linen supplier in Australasia. It offers ethically made 100% cotton and bamboo bed linen certified by the Global Organics Textiles Standards (GOTS) and uses Oeko-Tex® approved European organic dyes. Considering cotton is sprayed with 25% of the world’s pesticides, EcoLinen is hypo-allergenic, carcinogenic- and toxic-free and helps regulate body temperature due to the extra wide, superior yarn for better breathability.  

Having worked for almost 30 years in the textile industry Tim could see where improvements could be made. “A broader range of sustainable products, increased fair trade opportunities and a greater use of organic materials. People want to make ethical choices and we wanted to provide an alterative”. EcoLinen also supplies Mountain Heritage with cotton/polyester towels that last 30% longer than regular towels, and take 30% less time to launder.

Recently joined LCL-BM members Palais Royal Palais Royale also use Access Industries Lithgow laundering services, and are keen to introduce additional carbon saving initiatives over time.

Mountain Heritage’s other sustainable initiatives include LED lights throughout, soap recycling, reverse-cycle air-conditioners, timers and sensors for lighting systems, general recycling and food waste collected and composted by Leura’s Whispering Pines owners.

Eric is “constantly looking for new ways to be sustainable, looking at the market for new products and services”. Local businesses share and advise better environmental practices and support sustainable alternatives. Eric has routine meetings with his mentor and the hotel’s sustainability efforts are constantly reviewed. Since 2013 a third of the hotel’s carbon footprint (200 tonnes) has been eliminated, Eric is reviewing alternative carbon offsetting, double-glazed windows and a solar power system with batteries as long-term investments. He would also like another win at next year’s BM Business Awards for Sustainability. He’s certainly on the right path and the rewards are indeed lucrative –for Mountain Heritage, for the environment and the future. An all-win situation!