Sustainability – A Better Future
As concerns grow about the effects of climate change, trailblazers in the attraction industry are responding in innovative ways, looking for more sustainable ways to power their sites.
PortAventura World launched its strategy to minimize its environmental footprint with the opening of Colorado Creek, its first zero-emission hotel, in 2019.
In November 2020, the company announced that 100% of the electricity consumed in the PortAventura World complex the previous year came from renewable energy sources, with no CO2 emissions.
The operator has ambitious goals for the coming years, including the installation of a photovoltaic power plant to provide cleaner energy.
Here, Choni Fernandez Veciana, Director of Purchasing, Logistics and Corporate Responsibility of PortAventura Central Services, explains the strategy to us and explains why not making changes is just not an option.
Why is it important to consider how energy is used in the attractions industry?
The use of renewable energies is a fundamental axis around which the environmental commitment must be articulated. In the case of PortAventura World, we are continuing to move forward towards the energy transition, integrating projects such as the installation of one of the largest self-consumption photovoltaic plants in a European seaside resort. We also hold the Guarantee of Origin certificate, which guarantees that 100% of the electricity consumed at PortAventura World in 2019 comes exclusively from renewable energy sources without CO2 emissions.
Is the attractions industry doing enough to tackle the problem of climate change?
Theme parks are not part of the industrial sector and are included in the service sector, with the differentiating peculiarity of the large influx of visitors per day. This makes the waste, which the activity of the theme park generates, as the most impactful environmental area. And yes, the industry is resolutely committed to the fight against climate change.
We are aware of our responsibility and also of the positive impact that the fight against climate change has for the whole of society. In our case, one of our main objectives is linked to the management of waste and the minimization of its generation and the recycling or recovery of waste already generated. In this sense, we are focusing our efforts on the circular economy and the use of waste as an energy source. Assuming that there is no better waste than that which is not generated, we are committed to eliminating single-use plastics in the station.
In 2019, we obtained the Certificado Residuo Cero from AENOR which certifies that we recover more than 90 percent of the waste we generate.
Why and when did PortAventura make the decision to become carbon neutral? What have been the biggest challenges so far?
Since 2008, PortAventura World has been calculating its direct C02 emissions, increasingly integrating the calculation of indirect emissions. Since then, our environmental objectives have included the reduction of said emissions, which is why – among other actions – we only require renewable energies (GdO) in our energy tenders and we are changing our internal fleet to emission-free electric vehicles. C02.
In 2019, we decided to go further and in addition to the calculation and reduction, we also decided to offset the remaining emissions. We started in 2019 with a zero emission hotel, and by 2020 we had offset the total direct emissions and part of the indirect emissions of the resort.
One of the big challenges in indirect emissions is knowing the emissions of the entire supply chain, as many suppliers still do not know their direct emissions. We are working to improve the environmental performance of the entire chain.
What are the main areas of the park where there is still room to improve energy use?
To reduce our energy, we depend a lot on new and innovative products. The new luminaires based on LED technologies have helped a lot to reduce consumption. We have also become more and more demanding with the energy certification of any equipment we acquire – this is something that we prioritize.
The difference between an A rating and a G rating can represent up to three times less consumption.
Can you highlight some of the innovative energy saving measures you are taking at the resort?
PortAventura created the Smart Resort project; all systems and equipment that consume energy in the station have been connected to a control center, which is monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
This allows us to control the AACC systems, for example, to turn off / manage the air conditioning in the spaces according to the number of people occupying that space.
You can control the ignition of an oven in a hotel, from the Control Center! It’s a ‘big eye’ that sees everything … We no longer spend a single KW / H which is not strictly necessary.
What do you think has been PortAventura’s greatest success in this regard?
All the measures we have taken and all the initiatives we have implemented are great successes in terms of sustainability and rational use of energy.
One of the big victories has been the awareness within our teams. A significant portion of our energy savings is achieved through small actions carried out by each of our station employees. Remember that in high season we have 3,000 direct employees and the same number of indirect employees. Small actions of each person can lead to great results.
Beyond compliance with legal requirements, at PortAventura World, we continue to develop an ambitious growth plan, based on the principles of sustainable construction. We build with certifications recognized by LEED or BREEAM and we seek this energy saving from the design phase of the new installation.
Do you think other attraction operators will follow your lead? What advice would you give them?
From the frontline employee to the most senior manager, all of our employees know the importance of sustainability and understand the rational use of energy in our complex. In addition, they are all essential partners and participate in many decisions related to sustainability. In addition to focusing on our customers, none of our colleagues forgets how important it is to take care of our environment and pass these values on to colleagues and visitors to the resort.
For our employees who receive variable compensation, a percentage of this is linked to the achievement of annual energy savings targets. It’s integrating ESG into HR policies!