Reducing Your Environmental Impact
By Sanjay Nijhawan COO, Guoman Hotels (UK) | November 19, 2010
Over the last few years we have seen a significant increase in awareness and concern regarding the environmental impact of business. It is impossible to pick up a newspaper or magazine, or watch television, without being reminded of global warming. We are bombarded with data regarding climate change, green-house emissions and pollution, and a heated scientific debate rages in public regarding the future impact of our current lifestyle and activities What everyone can agree on is that protecting our environment for future generations is our responsibility.
Every business has a social responsibility to consider its environmental impact, and take reasonable steps to mitigate it. As part of the wider travel industry, hoteliers need to be even more sensitive to their role in this area, and ensure that they take the lead in reducing their environmental impact. The current economic climate may deter some from focusing on this area, under the misconception it will be expensive, or that it is not of core importance to their business. In fact the majority of initiatives will actually reduce costs through consumption savings, so the challenging trading conditions we all face should provide a stimulus to launch environmental plans rather than a deterrent.
Throughout this article I have also deliberately focused on low-cost initiatives that can be easily implemented - in fact a lot of the steps are common-sense, which simply require focus to deliver. It is also important to remember that customers - both large business clients and individual guests - are increasingly expecting a proactive environmental policy as standard. To be able to demonstrate this is important in retaining your position and competitive advantage. Can you afford not to offer this? In this article I have therefore highlighted a number of simple steps we can all take to reduce our carbon footprint, providing tangible environmental benefits without the need for costly developments or radical changes in how we run our businesses. Encourage and empower your team
The first key step in implementing an effective environmental policy is to win the hearts and minds of all team-members to the significance of reducing your environmental impact. Employees can have the most immediate impact, via simple changes in their behaviour - imagine the reduction in energy consumption if several thousand employees focus on simple steps such as turning off lights and equipment on standby when not required - and equally without their buy-in any initiatives will have limited success. At Guoman Hotels we have empowered our teams to drive environmentally-friendly schemes in their hotels, with a Green Committee sitting every month, whilst each General Manager has environmental targets to aim for. We have also introduced internal awards to recognise contributions from our team members. Any team member can make suggestions to reduce our environmental impact, which are then reviewed by the Green Committee, with the relevant team-member recognised for all ideas that are implemented. We also run a competition for Green Champion of the Year, and Green Team of the year, to encourage healthy competition between the hotels in our group and maintain interest. Identify your targets
Having ensured team participation, the next step is to identify the areas to target with environmental initiatives. At Guoman Hotels we identified the following key areas: