Business Case for Sustainability
By Arthur Weissman President and CEO, Green Seal, Inc. | September 02, 2010
Last year we wrote an article explaining the need for developing a business case for sustainability in the lodging industry and what it should entail. (see http://www.hotelexecutive.com/bus_rev/pub/002/126.asp) This article will update the earlier one by providing a framework for considering sustainability in the lodging industry, giving recent information relevant to a business case from the Doubletree in Portland, Oregon, and highlighting other examples of efforts being made to address sustainability in the industry.
Need for Industry Consideration of Sustainability
Today, with increasing public interest and awareness of the detrimental impacts human activity can have on the environment and society, consumers are more skeptical and critical of "green" claims being made about goods and services. The question facing them when they make purchasing decisions today is more graduated, and examines to what extent the production and use of a good or service is detrimental to the environment and society. Specifically within the hospitality industry, this question can now be phased as, How does the hospitality service promote sustainable development of its local community and other communities that it interacts with? Propson (1) agrees that," A sustainable hotel should have as small a footprint as possible; it should sit lightly on the land." but that "Eco-lodges do this in part simply because they are physically quite small. It's a different story at larger hotels and resorts." The next question is whether both large and small properties can agree on a common standard to measure sustainability in the hospitality industry. In the following section, we first look at the sustainability program of Doubletree of Portland, Oregon and those of a few other service providers that show successful integration of broad sustainability efforts in their businesses.
Sustainable Hospitality Service Program Models
In the U.S, a specific example of the benefits gained by integrating a comprehensive social and environmental accountability plan within hospitality is the Doubletree Hotel and Executive Meeting Center.(http://www.doubletreeportlandgreen.com )
This full service hotel and meeting facility in Portland has developed a sustainability program which is both remedial and pro-active in addressing the environmental, social and economic impacts of its business activities. By voluntarily undertaking Green Seal certification (under GS-33), and implementing a fully-customized Carbon Calculator with The Climate Trust via their website, the facility has made a conscious effort to reduce the hotel's impact on natural systems. These actions reflect how the company's comprehensive Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) philosophy is incorporated into its organizational ethos, identity, and behavior. In so doing, the Doubletree Portland has earned approximately $2 million in additional revenue from new businesses seeking green hotels for rooms and meetings.