The argument over whether ‘going green’ should really be a priority for the hospitality industry is over, writes Keith Broadway at Granuldisk…
Sustainability used to be a buzz word it’s now a need word. It is a priority, and it must be a priority for several reasons, including customer loyalty, good business sense, cost savings, and most importantly, environmental impact.
There are more than 45,000 hotels and hospitality properties in the UK and anywhere between 500,000 and 750,000 globally with 35 rooms and above. The global hotel market has over 16.4 million hotel rooms.
These venues are a huge source of resource consumption and waste, and while an individual hotel’s green initiatives may not make a measurable difference in the grand scheme of things, think about what could happen if each one of those properties made even one of the changes listed below.
1. Explore and install energy-saving technologies
It has been estimated that 75% of hotels’ environmental impacts can be directly related to over consumption—including energy consumption.
Installing energy-efficient technologies such as appliances, lighting, and heating and cooling systems can make a difference for both the environment and your hotel’s bottom line, allowing you to be more attractive to your guest and offer best a secure pricing structure.
2. Create a green team
Ask interested employees in each department to participate in a ‘Green team’ to take the lead in suggesting eco-friendly best practices in their area. This gives these employees a sense of ownership of green strategies, and more commitment to long-term adoption.
Do not forget to acknowledge their efforts, such as with a small certificate, a special lunch, or gift cards…
3. Encourage guests to be green
If you are a hotel, put cards in each room asking guests to turn out the lights when they leave, or reuse towels if possible. Make recycling bins readily available to guests and be sure that they are aware of your green programs. When guests see that your hotel is making every effort to help the environment, they will generally want to do their part as well.
For those hotels looking to do even more, consider loaning or renting bicycles to guests, or look into installing a bike-sharing station.
4. Start composting
An increasing number of hotels are realising the benefits of composting food waste rather than throwing it out. Not only is it a popular and well-known green initiative that will impress the guests, but it can also save your hotel money on landscaping since composted waste can be used as organic fertiliser.
The European Commission has set out a common methodology for food waste measurement to support member states on quantifying it at each stage of the supply chain.
The Delegated Act will ensure coherent monitoring of food waste levels across the EU for more data to be collated to put the food system onto a sustainable path.
Every year around 20% of food produced in the EU is lost or wasted – preventing food waste was identifying as one of the priority areas in the Circular Economy Action Plan adopted by the Commission in December 2015.
While the Delegated Act defines what needs to be measured as food waste at each stage of the food supply chain and how this should be carried out, it provides flexibility as to how data collection should be carried out at the national level.
5. Save Water
Transitioning to low water consuming pot washing equipment can save between 60-70% of the water used in the hotel kitchen.
For example, Marriott Hotels have installed Granuldisk pot washing solutions in many of their hotels in the UK and around the world collectively saving around 60%-70% of the water used in the kitchens to wash their pots and pans this means over 45 million litres of water a year!
6. Plant a Garden
If you are considering expanding your outdoor offerings for guests, consider adding a garden rather than simply extending your patio or pool area. Not only hotels but contract caterers as well are asking the client for a piece of land to grow their organic vegetables and herbs to enhance their food offer. This includes BP in Sunbury on Thames where the chef can be seen tending to his crop.
Now you do not have to go that far, but even a small garden (perhaps even on the rooftop for those of you with city properties) can help counteract your hotel’s carbon footprint. Raised beds can be installed almost anywhere and placing benches—made from recycled materials—around a garden can make for a wonderful guest experience.
Water wisely – smart irrigation systems can cut down on unnecessary water use with timed watering. You can also reduce overall water requirements by planting drought-resistant native plants and ground cover instead of just grass. This change also reduces the need for pesticides and fertilizers.
7. Support local, sustainable businesses
Hotels can help reduce their environmental impact by making smart purchasing choices as well. A hotel can reduce waste generation by trying to only purchase environmentally friendly products and purchasing locally can also reduce the impact on the environment and benefit the community.
You may also want to consider promoting other environmentally friendly businesses to guests, such as local farm-to-table restaurants.
8. Implement alternative energy sources
Several hotels have switched some of their energy usage to alternative sources, with great results. The Willard Intercontinental in Washington D.C. is now running on 100% wind energy power, resulting in a 12% decline in energy consumption, according to the Green Hotels and Responsible Tourism Initiative.
Other hotels, particularly those in warmer climates, are making use of solar energy for signage and water heating. And as the market for alternative energy increases, more solutions will arise.
9. Upgrade your transportation offerings and services with sustainability in mind
Add electric vehicle charging stations for guests with electric or hybrid cars. Consider eBike and eScooter rental options to promote sustainable transportation (be sure to provide helmets for guests). Provide group shuttles (using hybrid or electric vehicles) to public transit hubs to cut down on the number of low-occupancy car trips to and from your hotel.
10. Lead by example and practise what you preach.
As you implement green initiatives, make sure you are keeping all employees informed about the changes and what they can do to help. Allow the guest to be part of the experience, by asking for their ideas and feedback.
Approach these efforts as a team, and perhaps the green practices will carry over into their personal lives as well making an even bigger difference for our planet. We can all do our bit ‘to save the planet one drop at a time’.
Keith Broadway is country sales manager at Granuldisk, a specialist supplier of potwashing machines that use PowerGranules, water and a small amount of detergent to mechanically scrub pots and pans clean. www.granuldisk.com