Sustainable design, Part 3: Six Senses Svart

The planned Six Senses Svart in Norway, on the edge of the Arctic Circle, hopes to lure in visitors with its jaw-dropping, end-of-the-earth scenery, and at the same time, be a showcase property for potential hotel owners seeking to achieve carbon-neutral or negative states.

Contributed by Juliana Shallcross

In this last of our three-part series on sustainable design (Part 1, Part 2) read how this upcoming hotel is pushing to go deeper to make good on its sustainability promises.

“We want the property to balance our ethos of being very close to the Earth with a natural look and feel,” said Jeff Smith, vice president of sustainability for IHG-owned, Bangkok-based Six Senses Resorts and Spas, a hotel company that has long sought to minimize its environmental impact. “But it’s also going to be a very advanced, tech-forward hotel as well, using all of the best and latest technology for innovation on energy conservation. Which is the only way we’ll be able to pull this off.”

Rendering from the Six Senses Svart in Norway

The goals for Six Senses Svart is to be energy positive and carbon negative, Smith said, by creating a surplus of renewable energy, more than the hotel actually needs to operate. The process happens in layers, using the excess energy to work away at the embodied and operational carbon over time, first achieving a carbon neutral state and then going further to real carbon negative.

Details and strategies for the property are still being worked through but along with solar and geothermal energy, Six Senses Svart plans on adding a different type of renewable energy source – heat waste from the hotel’s data center located in the basement or back rooms of the resort.

“We need to challenge the status quo of the hotel industry. Because it must evolve incredibly fast to keep up with all of the world’s carbon targets.” – Jeff Smith

“Hotels and data centers are both very energy intensive. Data centers need a lot of cooling requirements because they produce a lot of heat,” Smith said. “So, the larger kind of strategy used for this hotel is to use the waste heat from the data center to dry our food waste and convert food waste into pellets.”

Those pellets will either go to fish-farms nearby and then ideally, following the theory of industrial ecology, Smith said, the farmers would sell their sustainable farmed fish back to the hotel.

Since the data center is needed on the property regardless, and the heat waste is free, the related costs of this energy source are self-sufficient. “So, this synergy of design and combining industries is definitely cost-effective and replicable,” Smith added. “We do not anticipate any additional operating cost borne by the hotel as a result.”

Aside from producing renewable energy, Six Senses will track all the property’s energy, water waste, and carbon output, and benchmark these against other hotels in the Six Senses collection as well as with Cornell’s Hotel Sustainability Benchmarking Index.

The planned Six Senses Svart in Norway, on the edge of the Arctic Circle

Smith admitted that the Norway project, which aims to open in 2024, is extremely ambitious. But he says the Six Senses strategy is going to be “throw everything” at this project, including assembling a project team of experts from different fields of sustainability technology. Whatever innovation succeeds at Six Senses Svart will be ready to replicate it at more hotels. And like all matters concerning the environment, the time for pushing hotels out of their comfort zone is now.

“We need to challenge the status quo of the hotel industry,” Smith said. “Because it must evolve incredibly fast to keep up with all of the world’s carbon targets.”