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.

Coming up in March 2018...

Human Resources: Value Creation

Businesses must evolve to stay competitive and this is also true of employment positions within those organizations. In the hotel industry, for example, the role that HR professionals perform continues to broaden and expand. Today, they are generally responsible for five key areas - government compliance; payroll and benefits; employee acquisition and retention; training and development; and organizational structure and culture. In this enlarged capacity, HR professionals are no longer seen as part of an administrative cost center, but rather as a member of the leadership team that creates strategic value within their organization. HR professionals help to define company policies and plans; enact and enforce systems of accountability; and utilize definable metrics to measure and justify outcomes. Of course, there are always new issues for HR professionals to address. Though seemingly safe for the moment, will the Affordable Care Act ultimately be repealed and replaced and, if so, what will the ramifications be? There are issues pertaining to Millennials in the workforce and women in leadership roles, as well as determining the appropriate use of social media within the organization. There are new onboarding processes and e-learning training platforms to evaluate, in addition to keeping abreast of political issues like the minimum wage hike movement, or the re-evaluation of overtime rules. Finally, there are genuine immigration and deportation issues that affect HR professionals, especially if they are located in Dreamer Cities, or employ a workforce that could be adversely impacted by federal government policies. The March Hotel Business Review will take a look at some of the issues, strategies and techniques that HR professionals are employing to create and sustain value in their organization.