Sustainability at The Circus – A ‘Green’ Hotel.
Here at The Circus we believe sustainability to mean taking an ethical approach to all aspects of our business. This of course means limiting the environmental impact of our activities, but beyond that it means taking decisions that have a positive impact not only on the business, but for our staff, our guests, our partners and our neighbours. This is fundamental to our philosophy and, we are convinced, is one of the principle reasons that we are able to offer such a high standard of service and facilities for reasonale and fair prices.
Sustainability at The Circus means...
• All staff members have full social and health insurance and are paid a reasonable wage which allows them to live in the city without recourse to a second or third job. All staff are fully legal with regards working papers and permissions, and there are no “black” jobs in the company.
• Our prices are predictable and are calculated – we believe – fairly. We are not interested in squeezing every last euro out of our guests just because the city is busy.
• The Circus is owned by five partners who have direct day-to-day involvement in the workings of the company. There are no outside investors or institutional money behind the company, which allows the owners to make economically “illogical” decisions if we believe they are healthy for the staff, the guests, our surroundings and ultimately the company in the long run.
• We are committed to outside partners – such as for repair and maintenance – that are local, owner-operated companies from the neighbourhood. We like to know and develop a relationship with our business partners that is both personal and for the long term.
• We are aware of the impact of tourism on local neighbourhoods, which is why we are committed to working with the local neighbourhood project Initiative Rosenthaler Platz, especially when it comes to the cleanliness and appearance of our surroundings, but also through involvement in community events and meetings.
The question of infrastructure…
Beyond these “social” elements to sustainability, we also try wherever possible to limit the environmental impact of our business. We know that there are limits – both financial but also in terms of the buildings themselves. Although the apartment house was newly built and therefore meets all, modern environmental building standards, the hostel and the hotel are housed in old buildings which have their limitations.
The following policies are consistent across all departments of the company:
• We purchase green electricity from the power company, which comes from 100% alternative energies that are C0² free.
• All papers used in the houses are recycled.
• Approximately 80% of lamps are fitted with energy-saving lightbulbs.
• Lights in the hallways are fitted with timers to reduce unnecessary usage.
• All departments in the hostel, hotel and apartments have implemented a strategy to reduce unnecessary waster, especially when it comes to packaging.
• All waste created is separated for recycling.
• None of our houses have air-conditioning, and this is a deliberate policy. We believe that in a city with the climatic conditions of Berlin it is an unnecessary burning of resources.
• The hostel and the hotel buildings have a combined heating and power unit which utilises waste heat to increase energy efficiency and reduce the need to purchase electricity.
• Solar voltaic panels have been installed on the roof of the hotel to generate electricity.
• Our rooms and apartments have no mini-bar, which saves energy. In exchange we offer full room service for no extra charge.
• Bathroom products are free but, for example in the hotel, are not left in the rooms but available on the reception to reduce potential wastage. The products themselves are supplied by a small, traditional organic manufacturer I+M Naturkosmetik.
• The full renovations of the hotel building (2008) and the hostel (2010) allowed us to improve the wall insulation and the energy-efficiency of the windows.
• The apartment building on Choriner Straße is a new-build, and therefore follows the protocols of the newest energy efficiency standards (2009). This includes aspects such as state-of-the-art insulation which prevents energy loss. This means that the “energy balance” (calculated per square metre) is incomparably positive when compared to older buildings.
What’s on the table?
One final aspect of sustainability that is important for us to highlight is our approach to gastronomy, whether it is at the cafe and bar in the hostel, the Fabisch restaurant in the hotel, or The Kitchen cafe and lounge at the apartments.
In our restaurant and at The Kitchen we are, wherever possible we are committed to using local suppliers who themselves take an ethical and sustainable approach to agriculture, animal husbandry, or food production in general. Many of the products we use are organic, and our meats come from suppliers commited to fair treatment of animals. Our teams develop seasonal menus in order to focus on locally produced food.
Our breakfast buffets at the hostel and hotel have been developed in reaction to standard hotel buffets that we ourselves experienced during our travels. Food is a resource, and one which is finite. In order to maintain the idea of choice, hotels have – over the past few decades – continued to increase the volume of food on their buffet tables. Much of it is unnecessary, and at the same time, each day in Western Europe and North America we throw away enough food to feed every person on the planet living beneath the poverty line. This is both outrageous, and with so many sustainability issues, easy to change without sacrificing anything other than the illusion of choice. We keep our buffets small, but stocked with the highest quality of produce. Less waste, but no compromise on taste.
Let us know what you think...
If you have any comments about our sustainability policies, or any questions or suggestions as to how we could do things better, then please do not hesitate to let us know. Reducing the impact of tourism on the environment, creating a positive impact on the lives of our staff, our guests and our surroundings, and the concept of responsible and ethical travel in general, will always be a partnership and there is always room for improvement.
Tread lightly, take nothing but memories, and leave nothing behind but good times...