How to Prepare a Corporate Environmental Program

By Arthur Weissman President and CEO, Green Seal, Inc. | September 02, 2010

The process of implementing a successful environmental program throughout a hotel brand can be a very daunting task for executives who have been assigned this role, or have decided to start such an initiative on their own. In this article we will try to outline some of the key questions and tools that brand managers will need to consider prior to implementing an environmental initiative throughout their chain. We will also suggest a few strategies that can help make the implementation of an environmental program efficient and streamlined for both corporate and property-level employees.

Your Environmental Policy and the Corporate Green Team Commitment

In a survey of hotel managers in the United States, Park(1) found that managers who have a high level of concern for the environment are also engaged with strong corporate commitments to reduce the environmental impacts of their brand. Without this top level commitment, company-wide environmental programs have a very small chance of successful integration with a brand’s business plan and strategic positioning. But by taking on the responsibility of prioritizing corporate-level environmental goals for your brand, you can ensure that there will be an ongoing commitment to achieving these goals, raise your company’s internal awareness of them, and allow for better inter-departmental coordination in achieving your desired reductions.

There are many tools and experts available now to help identify opportunities within your properties for environmentally responsible waste management, energy management, water conservation, and environmentally preferable purchasing practices that can improve your company’s environmental performance. Often, however, internal identification of these areas for improvement are more successful, because your employees have a better understanding of your company’s culture, as well as the most efficient means to implement environmental decisions into day-to-day operations. Before setting your environmental targets, however, it is also important to understand where you and your corporate-level Green Team can make the most significant impact. This is where reviewing your business plan and getting input from your various departments play a vital role in the development of your program.

Identifying and recruiting key corporate-level managers of your company’s various departments into your Corporate Green Team will be challenging but also rewarding. Departments that you should try to bring into the team include: facility operations (to understand general energy, water, and preventive maintenance impacts), your contract purchasing department (to consider environmentally preferable products and services and your supply chains), housekeeping services, food services, human resources (to develop staff training programs and resources) and general administration (to understand back office impacts). The important thing to remember when you do ask them to join is to understand what their main concerns are and address them at the outset. A few ways to achieve this include presenting your potential team members with cost savings information, industry trend reports, or a list of other potential employee benefits that you have been able to research internally.

Once you have these colleagues on board, their expertise and insight into your brand’s operations will be crucial for identifying which modifications to corporate-level polices can achieve the greatest reductions of environmental impact by each department. Developing an environmental policy with this Corporate Green Team will take time, but is usually successful if the team can meet monthly to report on their progress. If the group is unable to provide the analysis or data needed to understand your brands’ impact, then you should seek external help for preliminary energy, water, and waste audits and if needed, supply chain analysis.

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.