Sparks Circular economy

Luxury hotel embraces the circular economy

 By Livia Formisani
Circular economy

Can a luxury hotel join forces with circular economy and produce a world-class lifestyle experience? It’s already being done. The QO Amsterdam has created a new kind of destination – one conceived, designed and built to be sustainable in conformity with the criteria for LEED Platinum certification – one of the strictest green building certifications in the world…

Entering one of the guest rooms at the QO, what strikes a visitor first is how natural the space feels. Features such as stone and wood are enriched by soft, golden touches that enhance the earthy tones of the materials to create an atmosphere of calm and relaxation. The floor-to-ceiling windows allow for a greater use of daylight, which accounts for 80 percent of the hotel’s lighting. At the same time, 1,638 responsive thermal panels on the building’s façade react autonomously to the outside climate (and the guests’ presence) to add insulation and minimize heating needs, a feature which has inspired the hotel’s nickname of “living building”.

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The reception area at the QO Amsterdam (qo-amsterdam.com)

Sustainable luxury and circular economy

In fact, the whole concept of the QO is based on a sustainable, circular use of resources. Building materials were almost entirely locally sourced, starting with the concrete used in the building construction, 33 percent of which comes from a demolished skyscraper in Amsterdam. The hotel’s carpets are made of 100 percent recycled yarn from fishing nets, also a local product. The ingredients used in food served in the hotel’s restaurant and its rooftop bar come from its own greenhouse and from local producers; the hotel’s towels are also locally sourced.

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Persijn, the QO's restaurant (qo-amsterdam.com)

The goal of a circular economy system is to reduce consumption of resources as much as possible by reusing all available resources and minimizing waste. In its treatment of water, which is one of the most used resources at any hotel, the QO adheres to high standards. Grey water, for instance – all the water coming from sinks and showers – is reused to flush toilets, effectively cutting the overall water usage by 42 percent. Water warmed by the heat of summer is stored 70 meters underground to be used in the winter, while cold water is used to lower room temperatures in the summer. The building uses 100 percent energy from renewable sources, in particular Dutch wind energy.
At the same time, the hotel is committed to deliver a level of service and luxury which includes a wellness and fitness space, creative and multi-functional areas for meetings and events, the rooftop bar Juniper & Kin, and Persijn, a restaurant offering local Dutch cuisine. Opened in April 2018, the QO Amsterdam has already won a number of awards, including the Hotel Property Award 2018, the AHEAD award 2018 as Best Urban Hotel – Newbuild and the FRAME Sustainability Award 2019.

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QO's rooftop bar, Juniper & Kin (qo-amsterdam.com)

“We want the QO to stand out from other lifestyle destinations. Guests should not have to opt for either luxury or sustainability; we want to show that the two can be perfectly combined”, said Inge van Weert, General Manager at the QO.

A greenhouse and the fish farm

But the jewel in the QO’s crown is without a doubt its rooftop greenhouse, a circular aquaponics system with a fish farm. The fish waste provides an organic food source for the plants, whose roots lay in water, while the plants purify the water for the fish. The resulting fruit, vegetables, flowers and fish are then used in the restaurant and rooftop bar as ingredients for dishes and cocktails, with menus based on the produce available in a particular season or day.

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QO's rooftop aquaponics greenhouse (qo-amsterdam.com)

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that the hotel has applied for LEED Platinum certification, one of the strictest – and most prestigious – certifications in green building. Its requirements set boundaries on the quantity of waste produced during the construction phase, the light pollution caused by the building works, as well as the amounts of energy, water and other resources generally used by the building. If the QO were to meet all platinum standards, it would be the first hotel in Europe to have this certification.

WATCH MORE: Energy Snack: into the green city by Eniday Staff

about the author
Livia Formisani