An honest, sincere and effective strategy to improve the sustainability of a hotel group’s operations will start with a full and frank audit of the current status of Its hardware and its systems’ Environmental Performance.
In addition, a thorough audit of its Social Interactions and the impact of its operations on communities and ecosystems; and lastly, it’s Governance, Managerial and Performance Measurement Systems.
Hardware and Systems’ Environmental Performance Audit
Entails an in-depth examination of each operation, investigating the efficiency, age and condition of most of its major plant and equipment and in particular the control systems and managerial regimes that govern the operation of those systems. Most likely this will be performed by an environmental specialist together with the operation’s engineering staff and involve interviews with the managers of the heavy resource-utilising departments, such as Housekeeping, F&B, Stewarding and Procurement.
The deliverables from such an audit will be an evaluation of the deficiencies of existing plant serving as a target list for either the retrofitting of efficiency improvements, replacement or additional capital expenditure aimed at reducing resource usage and all forms of waste.
Social Interactions and the Impact of Its Operations on Communities and Ecosystems Audit
Seeks to evaluate such qualities as diversity performance in the workplace and disclosure (e.g., gender, ethnicity, age, disability and remuneration distribution parameters). In addition, it will address the human rights practices of its own operations and those of its suppliers. The health, hygiene, safety and security aspects of guests, employees and the local community in which the property operates, will be evaluated. This contemplates its use of chemical compounds and their effect on the environment, indoor air quality, control of pathogens, training for food handling, storage and preparation, control of emissions and discharges into the local environment, workplace and guest-space hazard assessments etc.
Each operation bears responsibility for appointing suppliers and ensuring that they adhere to standards commensurate with the group’s own sustainability policies. To this end a Supplier Code of Conduct will be compiled and sent to the relevant suppliers with the expectation that their directors will confirm compliance with those requirements or that their practices will be rectified within a specified period of time.
Operations will be asked to list out activities undertaken by the property and/or its employees, which are aimed at benefiting the community in which they operate, if any. Such things as participation in local community events, fundraising, volunteering and donations of materials, meals, event space or room stays for worthy causes, charities, schools or underprivileged groups, environmental clean-up exercises, internships and industry education, all qualify.
Governance, Managerial and Performance Measurement Systems Audit
Corporate and property level management are now in a position to develop their sustainability strategy. Amongst other matters this will entail the following:
Allocation of Management Responsibility
for the setting of strategic environmental goals in management, control, measurement, reporting and remediation of the business unit’s sustainability performance. In addition, the prioritisation and ROI of capital expenditure projects and operational strategies to maintain and improve sustainable outcomes for the business.
Measurement and Reporting, in accordance with international standards, of inputs or outputs of; All forms of energy (i.e., carbon based and renewable); Greenhouse gas emission equivalents; Carbon footprint; Water and Waste.
Establishment of Standard Operating Procedures throughout the business, applicable to all departments, for achieving sustainability targets, conserving resources and the elimination of waste across the business, for instance* in:
- Water usage, passive and active controls;
- Energy usage, passive and active controls;
- Waste handling, procurement implications, reduction, upcycling, recycling and disposal;
- Food & Beverage – sustainable ingredients, local sourcing and safe practices;
- Provision of information to guests about how they can contribute to the business’s sustainability goals and welcoming their suggested improvements.
These examples are by no means exhaustive.
Establishment of a Corporate Social Responsibility senior management working group responsible for:
- Establishing ethical standards and codes of conduct for dealing with all stakeholders;
- Monitoring procurement policies, the appointment and performance of suppliers and tendering matters;
- Vetting and prioritising capital and operational expenditure budgets to maintain and improve sustainable outcomes for the business;
- Providing resources and fostering involvement of the business and employees in green activities and others that are socially important to the local community;
- Ensuring no harm is caused by the business.
Above all, having established a datum level of performance, it is essential that the targets for improvement are compared with actual achievements and should be reported regularly to those personnel charged with improving the sustainability aspects of the operations, preferably in accordance with some recognised standard of reporting, such as the Global Reporting Initiative and also preferably that they be audited and accredited by an independent body.
Accurate measurement and honest reporting are the tools that management need to fulfil those lofty aspirations.
Eco-Friendly Hotel Practices
1. Utility Management
Professionals working in the built environment are playing a key role in laying the groundwork for new ways to approach energy and water use in buildings that allow buildings to exist in harmony with nature.
Engineers in the hotel industry know how to solve climate change, and know it is not that complex to apply state-of-the-art technology with new features that solve problems and cost less to operate. It is natural technological progress.
When developing a sustainability plan, the concept of sustainability is a broad general term that covers many factors. Since the foundation of energy use data is easy to get and readily available, utility management is the easiest starting point for reducing the carbon footprint.
2. Energy Management
It is estimated that approximately 40% of all energy consumption in the United States, the largest contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, come from buildings, and in the absence of deterrent action taken, the proportion of GHG is projected to double by 2050. Buildings sector decarbonisation is therefore key for the achievement of a sustainable low carbon economy.
In order to reduce emissions by 50%-52% by 2030, building emissions must be addressed through energy efficiency. Utility data becomes key to reducing your carbon footprint and they provide the largest opportunity for carbon reduction. Therefore, managing your building energy consumption becomes an important aspect of the hotel’s sustainability plan.
Major Cities Continue Adopting Penalty-Based Net-Zero Carbon Goals
Decarbonizing has historically been treated as insignificant-not because the climate crisis is not important, but because reaching Net Zero has typically been a complex process that has been both disruptive to business operations and damaging to bottom lines.
The critical issue related to delaying the process of decarbonization is that Decarbonization takes time. For those who choose to wait, even in countries where there are no penalty-based regulations yet, decarbonization will become needlessly expensive and time-consuming.
Data Will Become the Backbone of Building Decarbonization
Hotel Buildings process thousands of data every single minute – yet 90% of data is not stored. And, even today, the operations of hotel buildings are typically managed simply by human judgment and pieces of paper, leaving crucial data points that could make significant strides in energy and cost reduction ignored.
As the hotels roughcast a path towards decarbonization, data is proving to be a valuable asset to better understand how a hotel building performs and where investments in infrastructure need to be made to expedite decarbonization goals.
Hotel owners and operators will increasingly need a centralized intelligent control platform to assist them wring out carbon emissions from the hotel asset base. While equipment upgrades are inevitable, utilizing data allows you to get the most out of what you already have, leading to quicker carbon reductions and the ability to recognize payback for your investments faster without any disruptions to your business operations. Continuous Monitoring and Adaptive Controls are the way to go.
This intelligent control platform must support various manufacturers and device types to enable savings across all. This also mitigates the RISK of locking on to a single supplier/manufacturer. Connected products offer hotel owners/operators unique advantages such as monitoring energy use from a handheld device (smart phone or tablet).
Technologies Delivering Sustainability and Resiliency Benefits
Since hotel building structures will be in use for decades, building resilience and cutting emissions over time is a central component of a meaningful long-term climate strategy.
A hotel’s infrastructure is the starting point for boosting environmental sustainability and resiliency benefits. Two major ways that the hotel industry could respond to climate change: reducing the environmental impact of buildings and infrastructure (referred to as sustainable practices) and prepare for the impacts of climate change that are already occurring (referred to as resilience).
Breaking Down the Information Silos
One of the primary challenges for the hotelier is that each operating department has separate systems, each of which had its own way of operating. As a result, knowledge transfer between the business units is either weak or non-existent.
Much of hotel’s technology need to be upgraded, integrated, and secured, which present a challenge since the IT (information technology) and OT (operations technology) organizations are siloed. There is a wide range of technology within each hotel facility that provides just enough support to get by.
Most internal capability groups attempt to predict problems based on experience and beliefs rather than leveraging concrete data.
Risk Assessment: A comprehensive risk assessment is required to assess the capabilities of the existing infrastructure, foundation to provide more space for additional loads and enhance security. An assessment, which can be done by a third party or internally, takes into consideration multiple attributes and helps prioritize assets, based on data and facts, not emotional anecdotes from users. Scores should be based typically on the impact the asset or component has on fulfilling requirements for a highly agile system that enables launching enhanced systems and services to meet compliance with federal and state mandates, whilst supporting profit margins.
Condition Assessment: Assessing current conditions is like performing a wellness checkup on the assets in the hotel. Initial assessments can require substantial resources, but after the first round of evaluations are completed, updating the status on a regular basis becomes much easier and well worth the time. Condition assessments are fact-based, using standardized definitions and objectives and consistent standards.