06 Jul 2022 World leisure: news, training & property
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Attractions Management
2021 issue 3

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Leisure Management - A brighter future


A brighter future

As PortAventura World announces it has become carbon neutral, we speak to Choni Fernandez Veciana about how the Spanish resort is moving towards a new energy model

Choni Fernandez Veciana joined PortAventura in 2007 photo: PortAventura World
100 per cent of the electricity consumed in 2019 came exclusively from renewable energy sources without CO2 emissions. photo: PortAventura World
The company has committed to the elimination of single use plastic by 2022 photo: PortAventura World
The management have invested in innovative energy saving products, says Veciana photo: PortAventura World
PortAventura World is one of southern Europe’s largest theme park attractions photo: Pjob vermeulen photography / Plano General Piazza Maranello

As concern mounts over the effects of climate change, pioneers within the attractions industry are responding in innovative ways, searching for more sustainable ways to power their venues.

PortAventura World launched its strategy to minimise its environmental footprint with the opening of Colorado Creek, its first zero-emissions hotel, in 2019.

In November 2020, the company announced that 100 per cent of the electricity consumed in the PortAventura World resort the previous year had come from renewable energy sources, without CO2 emissions.

The operator has ambitious goals for the next few years, including the installation of a photovoltaic plant to provide more clean energy.

Here Choni Fernandez Veciana, PortAventura central services director of purchasing, logistics and corporate responsibility, talks us through the strategy and tells us why not making changes is simply not an option.

Why is it important to consider how energy is used in the attractions industry?
The use of renewable energy is a fundamental axis around which environmental commitment must turn. In the case of PortAventura World, we continue to make advances towards energy transition, incorporating projects such as the installation of one of the largest self-consumption photovoltaic plants in a European resort. We also hold the Guarantee of Origin certificate, which ensures that 100 per cent of the electricity consumed in PortAventura World in 2019 came exclusively from renewable energy sources without CO2 emissions.

Is the attractions industry doing enough to tackle the issue of climate change?
Theme parks are not part of the industrial sector and are included in the service sector, with the differentiating characteristic of the large influx of visitors per day. This fact places waste, which theme park activity generates, as the environmental area with the greatest impact. And yes, the industry is steadfastly committed to the fight against climate change.

We’re aware of our responsibility and also of the positive impact that combating climate change has for the whole of society. In our case, one of our main objectives is related to waste management and minimising its generation and the recycling or recovery of waste already generated. In this sense, we’re focusing our efforts on the circular economy and the use of waste as an energy source. Starting from the premise that there’s no better waste than that which is not generated, we are committed to the elimination of single-use plastics in the resort.

In 2019 we got the Certificado Residuo Cero of AENOR that certificates that we recover more than 90 per cent of the waste that we generate.

Why and when did PortAventura make the decision to become carbon neutral? What have been the greatest challenges up to this point?
Since 2008, PortAventura World has calculated its direct C02 emissions, increasingly incorporating the calculation of indirect emissions. Since then, our environmental objectives include the reduction of said emissions, which is why – among other actions – we demand only renewable energy (GdO) in our energy contracting tenders and we are changing our internal fleet for electric vehicles without C02 emissions.

In 2019 we decided to go one step further and in addition to the calculation and reduction, we decided to also offset the remaining emissions. We started in 2019 with a zero emissions hotel, and by 2020 we had offset the total direct emissions and part of the indirect ones from the resort.

One of the great challenges, within indirect emissions, is to know the emissions of the entire supply chain, because there are many suppliers that still don’t know their direct emissions. We’re working to improve the environmental performance of the entire chain.

Which are the main areas within the park where there is still scope to improve energy use?
To reduce our energy we depend a lot on new and innovative products. New luminaires based on LED technologies have helped a lot to reduce consumption. We have also become increasingly demanding with the energy certification of any equipment that we acquire – this is something we prioritise.

The difference between an A and a G rating can be up to three times less consumption.

Can you highlight some of the innovative energy-saving measures you’re taking at the resort?
PortAventura has created the Smart Resort project; all the systems and equipment that consume energy in the resort have been connected to a control centre, which is attended 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

This allows us to control the AACC systems, for example, turning off/managing the air conditioning in the spaces according to the number of people occupying that space.

You get to 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 that’s not strictly necessary.

What do you think has been PortAventura’s greatest success in this regard?
All the steps we’ve been taking and all the initiatives that we’ve implemented are great successes in terms of sustainability and the rational use of energy.

One of the big wins has been the awareness within our teams. An important part of our energy savings are achieved by small actions taken by each of our resort employees. Remember that in high season we have 3,000 direct employees and the same number of indirect employees. Small actions by each person can end up achieving great results.

Beyond complying with legal requirements, at PortAventura World we continue to develop an ambitious growth plan, based on sustainable construction principles. We build with certifications as recognised by LEED or BREEAM and we seek this energy saving already from the design phase of the new installation.

Do you think other attractions operators will follow your lead? What advice would you give them?
From the front-line employee to the highest-ranking manager, all of our employees know the importance of sustainability and understand the rational use of energy in our resort. What’s more, they are all essential partners and participate in many of the decisions that have to do with sustainability. As well as focusing on our guests, none of our colleagues forgets how important it is to take care of our environment and to transmit these values to colleagues and visitors to the resort.

For our employees that receive variable remuneration, a percentage of that is linked to meeting annual energy saving targets. This is integrating ESG into HR policies!

More: www.attractionsmanagement.com/PA

Originally published in Attractions Management 2021 issue 3

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