9 Green Must-Dos to Place Your Hotel Ahead of the Curve
By Eric Ricaurte Principal, Greenview | May 21, 2017
In 2011, we visited the 10 hotels contracted in the room block for the Greenbuild conference in Toronto. As part of their award-winning sustainable event program, the conference organizers embedded green practices into the contract language for these hotels, who either had to comply with the requirements, explain their reason why they couldn't implement them, or pay a $1,000 fine. Part of our consulting work was to gather the data and confirm some of the practices on-site.
Greenbuild was a pioneer in adapting the "supply chain evaluation" to hotels, because we all know the more you just ask the question, the more hotels start saying customers are asking for green. And embedding in the contract language also pioneered the "comply-or-explain" approach to sustainability, which at a corporate level is now a major global trend across stock exchanges and government regulators today for disclosing environmental, social, and governance performance. The premise is that although technically you're not required to communicate your efforts and programs, you'll have to tell the world why you're not, and everyone can see whether your peers are besting you. I saw this work in practice during those Toronto hotel walk throughs.
The contracted green practices were fairly basic, such as having a linen/towel reuse program, having energy efficient lighting and water-saving fixtures, recycling, donating leftover food, donating used bathroom amenities, and that newspapers shouldn't be delivered to every guest room by default.
That last one was particularly interesting. First, because this was 2011 when it was still common to read printed news, and second, because the amount of paper waste generated from discarded newspapers in hotels was astonishing (and costly). The 10 contracted hotels were from diverse brands, and all generally from upscale to luxury segments. In collecting the initial data 9 out of the 10 hotels indicated compliance with this one. One did not. When we discussed this with the property as to why they could not comply, they said it was their policy (i.e. SOP) to do so, and they had a contract with the vendor to provide the newspapers.
However, the sales manager perked up when I told her that they were the only hotel out of the 10 in the room block that was still delivering newspapers by default. A month later when doing final data compilation, the hotel sent me an email saying that after that feedback from the conference, they had changed their policy and were no longer delivering newspapers to every guest room automatically (because of course there are options such as placing them at the front desk, on floors by the elevators, or informing guests that they can request one to be sent up).
From this experience, it dawned on me that as an industry we could add more sustainability to our benchmarking, as we benchmark the comp set for other hotel amenity and service attributes, not to mention the love we have for ADR, occupancy, and all that flows from it. Thus, our quest for hotel sustainability benchmarking began. In the years since, we've worked with the big support of hotel chains to push this concept forward, now benchmarking sustainable practices and performance across thousands of hotels worldwide through various initiatives. One of which, the Green Lodging Trends Report published in partnership with Green Lodging News every year, provides the empirical results for this article's title. Through this free benchmarking exercise, hotels can see how they compare among trends in over 100 best practices. As an example, it's my pleasure to alert the small percentage (less than 10-25%) of hotels benchmarked that still haven't implemented these nine below.