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I was in Hyderabad recently attending a MICE convention organized by the ICPB (India Conventions Promotions Bureau). I did not go with any expectations; it was something I did because I wanted to organize a conference for the NGO I volunteer for. The experience nevertheless was quite a surprise. The convention was held at the HICC (Hyderabad International Convention Centre) located in the Hitex city area, a pet project of former Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu.

Naidu’s effort was to make Hyderabad the ideal city for International conventions. And today, Hyderabad (mainly HICC) has become the first choice city for International and World conventions wherein experts from all over the world congregate to discuss the latest trends in their respective field. The HICC is a world class, state-of-the-art venue, the first of its kind in South Asia. It is the only international class convention facility between Singapore and Dubai and is located in a 15 acre campus in the heart of a premier business hub in Hyderabad city. Spread over 291,000 sq. ft of primary meeting space and 250000 sq. ft of pre-function areas, the HICC is designed to handle 50-5000 people. The HICC also has the Novotel Hotel attached to it and together sets a high standard for environmental safeguards in construction and operations. The hotel has standardised protocols for reduced energy and water usage and has also made sterling efforts for greening the convention and lodging experience. The HICC complex has been constructed according to International LEED standards that measure how well a building or community performs across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources & sensitivity to their impacts.

The HICC along with the country’s first Greenfield International airport also called the Novotel International Airport of Hyderabad, has carved a niche for Hyderabad as an events’ destination. The airport is built to International Greenfield standards and has the best possible sustainable energy efficient model in terms of architecture and construction material used. All the products used in the complex are low on chemicals and highly organic. Even bottled water is frowned upon here. They have large water dispensers placed conveniently in every section for the visitors to avail of fresh, uncontaminated drinking water. During one session the Managing Director, Philip Logan, even boasted that they saved nearly 22 lakhs a year in terms of expenses incurred from supplying prepackaged bottled water alone. This is proof enough that going green is not necessarily expensive. It can be a money earner too! Conventions can go green in four main areas; Enery, Waste Management, Buildings & Operations and Transportation. Greening can therefore bring forth opportunities to reduce environmental impact and improve sustainability as well as a facility’s bottom line.

As a city, Hyderabad is more than 400 years old, it has a varied and colourful history but in terms of economics, the city lagged far behind the major metros of India. But that is not the case today. The government initiatives have given the city a much needed dose of good governance, catapulting the city to the forefront of the resurgence of India’s economic engine while highlighting the new Indian growth-driven by the twin strengths of knowledge and education. Hyderabad is the perfect example of the harmony of the old and new which defines modern India. The city is also reported to have been identified as one among the top 20 cities of sustainable future according to a world study initiated by the influential New-York based Ethisphere Institute evaluating cities on their efforts to improve sustainability including public transport, local economy, environment, health, education, recreation and living standards. The other cities that featured in the report include New York, Toronto, Frankfurt, Singapore, Cape Town, Abu Dhabi, London and Curtiba in Brazil.

Johnson Thomas

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