Sustainable Practices of Major Hotel Companies

By Lawrence Adams Principal, ForrestPerkins | May 15, 2016

Major hotel companies realize the enormous benefits that come with environmental and socially sustainable practices. In addition to increasing profits from energy and water conservation, hotels are boosting profits due to an expanding segment of environmentally-concerned travelers and corporations, who make lodging choices based on hotels' green credentials. As they embrace environmental and social sustainability, many of the major hotel companies have mission statements expounding on their environmental stewardship. In this article, we will look at five major hospitality companies and their approaches, practices and policies in achieving sustainable goals for their hotels and resorts.

Marriott International

Marriott International has long been a strong leader among hotel companies in endorsing and practicing ecologically-sound principles for the hospitality industry. In 2001, The Marriott Inn & Conference Center at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland, became the first hotel to apply for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and was the first hotel to be LEED certified in 2005.

Through partnerships with global non-profit organizations dedicated to saving our planet, Marriott International has been in the forefront in advancing a wide range of environmentally-sustainable goals for the hospitality industry. The World Environment Center (WEC), whose members include IBM, Starbucks, Disney, Dow, General Motors, Coca-Cola, Boeing and Marriott as the sole hospitality member, formed the Innovations in Environmental Sustainability Council to find solutions to major global sustainability challenges. Marriott leads the council's efforts in developing innovative technical and operational solutions to environmental issues affecting and affected by the hospitality industry.

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Designed by HKS Hill Glazier Studio and ForrestPerkins the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill
Country Resort & Spa,
earned LEED Certification under the USGBC for New Construction
Photography by Barbara Kraft

As an active councilmember, Marriott supports and endorses The World Travel & Tourism Council's (WTTC) Action Agenda with detailed policies for addressing the council's 10 action items for advancing efforts to address climate change. Marriott has had a strong role in many of the WTTC's environmental initiatives including the development of The Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative (HCMI), which together with the International Tourism Partnership and 22 other international hotel companies, was developed as a uniform methodology to measure, compare and report carbon emissions of hotels and resorts.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.