Sustainability Initiatives for Hotels

Sustainability is Worth the Investment for Hotels

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Travelers are actively seeking hotels that have established strong sustainability policies, according to Google Trends, the search for green hotels has quadrupled since March of 2020.  Hotels are taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by establishing sustainability practices with the goal of conserving energy and water and reducing food and other hotel wastes.  Search features are now available that enable travelers to get detailed information about hotels and their sustainability initiatives.

Google’s Eco-Certification for Hotels

Google has created a new feature that makes it easier for consumers to identify hotels with strong sustainability practices by assigning an “eco-certified label”.  The new feature allows users to identify hotels and their sustainability policies during their search.  A leaf shaped icon will be assigned to hotels that are labeled as eco-certified in global search results.  Users can view specific details about the sustainability measures that hotels are undertaking by clicking on the about section.  The feature uses 29 certification programs to establish a hotel’s sustainability practices in order to be labeled as “eco-certified” and hotels will need to opt in to report their practices.  A hotel’s sustainability policies must be audited by  third-party experts that use globally recognized criteria to evaluate hotels.  A hotel’s evaluation should be based on the environmental impact in categories such as, energy efficiency, waste reduction, sustainable sourcing, and water conservation.

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HRS Green Stay Initiative

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Accor is one of the first hotel brands to join HRS’s Green Stay Initiative.  The Initiative was launched in March by HRS with the goal of helping hotels and other companies build more sustainable programs by allowing hotels to share data about energy usage, water usage and hotel waste.  Green Stay monitors hotel size, gas, electricity, waste and water management and renewable energy to name a few.  Green Stay’s reporting is based on Hotel Carbon Measurement founded by the World Travel & Tourism Council.  The initiative also helps travelers make better booking decisions by displaying an icon on booking displays that makes it easier for travelers to identify green hotels.

“The world’s leading multi-national companies are promoting their aspirations to achieve net-zero operations by 2030 or sooner. These company-wide goals impact managed travel programs, who are tasked to travel more sustainably as they recover from the pandemic,” said HRS CEO Tobias Ragge. “Dozens of corporations have already indicated in their hotel RFPs that metrics on energy, water and waste are required for consideration. The need for automation to efficiently deliver such data from hotels to procurement leaders and travelers is vital in today’s corporate lodging landscape.”

TripAdvisor’s GreenLeaders Program

Travelers are becoming increasingly attracted to hotels that have adopted environmentally friendly and sustainable practices.  As a response to the growing number of travelers who are environmentally conscious, online travel company TripAdvisor created the GreenLeaders Program that showcases hotels and other accommodations that are committed to sustainability.  GreenLeaders highlight hotels that are dedicated to recycling, to the use of local and organic foods and to providing electric car charging stations.  GreenLeaders can achieve bronze, silver or gold statuses depending on their sustainability practices, the higher the status, the greener the practices.  The hotel’s sustainability practices will display a GreenLeaders badge on the TripAdvisor’s listing page, travelers can click on the badge to get information on the specific practices that hotels have adopted.

Hotels are Taking Sustainability Seriously

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Hotel brands such as Marriott have implemented sustainability initiatives aimed at reducing the use of plastic, reducing food and other wastes and conserving energy.  Marriott has plans to reach net zero value chain greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with sustainable initiatives that may include the increased use of renewable energy, the maximization of renewable electricity, continued modifications to design standards so buildings are more efficient, and the installation of automation systems and energy efficiency upgrades.  Marriott plans to increase efforts to reduce the environmental impact of food waste and other wastes and will participate in reforestation initiatives.

Marriott’s recent initiatives include:

  • The reduction of single-use plastics including replacing tiny, single-use toiletry bottles of shampoo, conditioner and bath gel in guestroom showers with larger pump-topped bottles. When fully implemented across the globe in 2022, the company’s expanded toiletry program is expected to prevent about 500 million tiny bottles annually from going to landfills.
  • The roll-out of an internal food waste prevention and reduction educational campaign, designed to support Marriott’s goal to reduce food waste by 50%.
  • The launch of a publicly available responsible sourcing guide, to help Marriott’s supplier community join its sustainability journey on the path to responsibly sourcing 95% of the company’s top ten priority categories.
  • The development of a certifications database to help properties operate more responsibly and work towards the goal of 100% of the portfolio receiving a third-party sustainability certification.
  • Planting more than 415,000 trees over the last several years, including through the company’s work as a founding member of the Evergreen Alliance, a select group of Arbor Day Foundation partners and collaborators committed to advancing trees and forests as natural solutions for corporate sustainability and citizenship goals.
  • Innovative ecosystem restoration and carbon sequestration projects, such as working with The Ocean Foundation to remove and repurpose sargassum seaweed, which has had devastating impacts on the environment.

Why Should Hotels Adopt Sustainability Practices?

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Travelers are actively seeking hotels that are committed to sustainability and hotels can gain that competitive edge by establishing practices aimed at reducing their carbon footprint.  Recent studies have found that 73% of global travelers intended to stay at least once, at environmentally friendly accommodations.  The number of travelers increased from 62% in 2016 to 68% in 2018 and has steadily risen.  The study also found that 70% of global travelers were likely to book environmentally friendly stays, whether they were actively searching for them or not.  And 62 % felt better about staying at hotels and other accommodations knowing that they were environmentally friendly.

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