Carbon neutral status has been awarded for The Falls Hotel.
There will be no carbon footprint left by guests to The Falls Hotel and Spa in Ennistymon when it reopens later this year. A series of waste reduction and energy initiatives on the property have led to it receiving national recognition.
The 140 bedroomed hotel which is located in the scenic Burren and Cliff of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark was awarded the carbon neutral status by Green Hospitality Ireland for eliminating its carbon output over a five year period.
One of the most significant measures taken by the hotel was the installation of a €1.3m hydroelectric turbine on the nearby River Inagh which generates enough electricity to power the hotel. Other projects included switching to renewable electricity and Bio LPG gas, using water from the hotel’s own well and planting 350 native Irish trees on the hotel grounds.
Sales of its electricity to the national grid from March of 2020 to January 2021 saw the hotel receive €20,000 at a time when The Falls was hit by COVID-19 closures.
A green team was also set up in the hotel and spa to encourage staff to become fully involved in all of the hotel’s sustainability initiatives. These include using chemical free cleaning products, compostable cups and straws and cutting back on food waste.
Michael McCarthy, General Manager, Falls Hotel expressed their delight with the recognition which he hailed as “a massive achievement” and one which followed “huge investment”. He explained, “Being based in an area of such natural beauty, as the Burren, we felt compelled to do our best to minimise our impact on the area around us. Utilizing the power of the river alongside us seemed the best place to start our sustainability journey.’
The idea of harnessing energy from the nearby river Inagh is not new. In the 1960s, the hotel’s previous owners Bridget and John F Woods recognised the potential of the cascades to generate electricity for the then 20 bedroom hotel. The couple had installed a 30-kWH hydroelectric plant on the site, which was then upgraded by the McCarthy family into the current 220 kWH hydroelectric turbine.
A year after it was completed in 2019 the property had reduced its energy consumption by 830,000 kWh of electricity. This counteracts the emission of an estimated 550 tonnes of carbon and is the equivalent of offsetting three return trips, by car, to the moon.
The 220kw turbine which Is located next to the Inagh river provides up to 70% of the hotel’s annual energy needs. In winter this can reach 100%, when the river is in full flow. During drier spells, the hotel tops its energy from renewable electricity sources. Any excess electricity will be sold back to the national grid or there are plans to install a battery unit which can store electricity which can be used by the hotel later.
Storyboards located around the hotel and next to the hydro-electric pump house beside the river will document the hotel’s journey to sustainability. More trees will be planted annually and guests will be encouraged to offset their own carbon footprint by adopting a tree. “It is our responsibility to take direct action to minimise our environmental footprint and we have additional plans to further reduce our absolute consumption and drive even greater levels of sustainability within the hotel,” Michael added