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Ireland’s first certified carbon neutral hotel recently picked up a number of environmental awards for waste prevention and sustainable on-site practices.

Founded in 2008, Hotel Doolin now boasts 17 rooms and nine holiday homes. Forming part of the Burren Ecotourism Network, the establishment’s green journey began eight years ago in an effort to “protect the beautiful environment where we are located” stated human resources, purchasing and Green manager Áine Martin, who oversees a staff of 110 in one of North Clare’s largest employers.

The catalyst came in the form of positive community integration, where initiatives were partnered with clearly set corporate social responsibility work such as fundraisers and working with local groups. The establishment birthed a Green Team, subdivided into waste, water and energy teams. The groups convene frequently to discuss ideas, projects and targets. This was what led to winning the Green Award for Best Sustainable Team in Ireland as well as winning the Best Medium Sized Organisation Award for three years running, in recognition of the value of sustainable work completed by the Hotel.

On top of this, Hotel Doolin clinched first place at Repak’s 2019 Pakman National Environmental Awards, winning the Waste Prevention Business Award. Last year, Áine admitted that the focus was on obtaining “a carbon neutral certificate” for the hotel and will this year, be re-entering the seventh annual Pakman Awards. “Since then, we have been recognised for our waste prevention. We have decided to paint the programmes for the Doolin Folk Festival in September on the walls of the hotel, saving thousands of printed pieces of paper. We also offer a 30-cent discount on tea and coffee when someone brings a reusable cup and we are big on upcycling. The new bar which we built in 2018 to replace the marquee has lampshades made from old fishermen’s eel baskets in County Sligo. The bar counter is also refurbished from old whiskey bars,” she told The Clare Echo.

The pioneers in ‘green hospitality’ also made the transition to 100 per cent green electricity in 2019. Heating systems were changed to air to water, equipment was analysed for waste and the carbon footprint was reduced from 404 tonnes in 2018 to 114 in 2021. This current footprint, Áine informed, is “offset by tree planting and the growing of on-site Glas Restaurant’s food produce at the hotel itself.”

With eco-conscious guests central to the philosophy and running of the hotel, Aine added that for each wedding, 10 native trees are planted between Lahinch and Ennistymon. “So far we have planted 2,050 trees. These include alder, willow, rowan, whitethorn and blackthorns. Each tree offsets one tonne of carbon in its lifetime. Feedback has been immensely positive, and our guests often offer us great ideas of their own.”

Working within the circular economy is also an essential component of the business model employed by the Clare coastal Hotel. Seventy per cent of the food produce used in the restaurant is purchased within a 30-mile radius of the hotel. Aine enthused that they are always looking to do more, and that the current drive is to “implement both wind and solar energy systems.”

This is currently in the research stage, split amongst the various in-house teams. An energy audit is also being looked into and will offer a critical insight into waste and room for improvement. The final project on the horizon for now is the setting up of a full composter, meaning that biofertilizer can be used by the likes of local suppliers to the hotel such as Moy Hill Community Farm.

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