October 26, 2022

What Sustainable Green Practices are Recognized and Followed in the Hospitality Industry?

Hotels, resorts, and other hospitality facilities across the globe are rolling out green initiatives to not only move with the latest trends but be part of a genuine course helping to make the planet a better place. Most people love vacations in top hotels, but they will opt out if they discover the facilities of choice are adding to the piles of garbage in the ocean. So, whether you have a new hotel or another type of facility in the hospitality industry, the big question is, “What is the best sustainable practice?” This post is a comprehensive guide to sustainability in the hotel industry. Keep reading to learn more about sustainability in the hotel industry, associated benefits, and best practices.

green hotel

What is Sustainability?

Before looking at the best sustainable practices, let's go back to the beginning and establish what sustainability is all about. Sustainability denotes the ability to fulfil the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of the future ones to meet theirs too. In the hotel industry, and indeed in all other sectors, sustainability can be broken down into three main areas; environment, social, and governance (ESG). 

The concept can be traced back to 1987 when the World Commission on Environment and Development of the United Nations described sustainable development as the core pillar of sustainability. The commission helped people to appreciate that sustainability is not just about the environment but also includes the people and governance of businesses. In the hotel industry, sustainability touches almost all areas, including the food served, energy use, transport, and building design. 

It is crucial to note that when it comes to sustainability, you need to have a clear plan to realise all associated benefits. For example, a goal such as reaching carbon zero status requires you to determine the current levels of greenhouse (GHG) emissions and a path toward cutting them down. Your stakeholders want to see this journey and effort. 

Why Sustainability is Important for the Hotel Industry

  • Helps to cut down the cost of operations and energy consumption. 
  • Crucial in building a happy workforce. 
  • Promotes efficient use of natural resources. 
  • Comes in handy in cutting down greenhouse gases (GHG) and ultimately reducing the impacts of global warming. 
  • Can help to strengthen your hotel’s image on the market. 
  • Strengthens the connection between a hotel and local communities. 
  • Helps to win more visitors, grow sales and increase profits for a hotel. 
  • Sustainability is very important for compliance with local laws and policies. 
  • Helps to win the support of stakeholders, from investors to shareholders. 
  • Promotes the growth of biodiversity. 

Sustainability Practices to Recognize for the Hotel Industry 

There are dozens of practices that your hotel can engage in but it is important to identify those that will deliver the greatest impact. Remember to factor in the hotel’s location, targeted clients, nature of activities involved, and local policies when selecting the greening initiatives. So, let’s highlight some of the best practices. 

Reducing Water Use and Waste Water 

The planet’s surface is about 70% water, but the bulk of this is not readily available for human use. Only about 30% of the water is fresh and the biggest part of this is also locked in glaciers. What this implies is that there is very little clean water available for ecosystems and everyone should look for ways to conserve it. In the hotel industry, every occupied guest room wastes 150 gallons of water per day, and should be a crucial point of focus for sustainability

To reduce water use in your facility, it is important to install intelligent taps that sense when no one is in the sink and automatically turn off the flow. This reduces the danger of losing water because a guest or an employee has simply forgotten to turn the faucet off. Other strategies for cutting down reducing water use in a hotel include: 

  • Vacuum cleaning instead of using water. 
  • Installing low-flow water showerheads. 
  • Recycling wastewater. 

Recycling and Reusing Wastes 

Every hotel releases a lot of waste from different sections, and a good sustainability strategy should include the right method of reducing or recycling it. Some of the common types of waste from hotels include leftover food, plastic, glass, wastewater, metal, and wood. The good thing about reducing waste and recycling as a sustainable practice in your strategy is that it can be part of the main focus on cutting down costs. 

One of the top strategies that your hotel should employ to recycle waste is using refillable water bottles. This means that after guests are done staying in your hotel/restaurant/ resort, the bottles are cleaned and used by subsequent visitors. This means the bottles do not become part of the waste stream, or the utility of materials used to make them is extended. Other tips for cutting down waste include: 

  • Providing ample recycling bins in all areas of your hotel facility. 
  • Using biodegradable materials in food packaging. 
  • Encourage your visitors to reduce their waste when staying in your hotel. 
  • Donate unused items, from food to furniture, instead of tossing them into the trash bins. 
  • Partner with recycling companies to help recycle electronics that are damaged. 

Working with Sustainable Entities in the Hotel Supply Chain 

When it comes to sustainability, one fact that every hotel should appreciate is that there is very little that can be achieved when working alone. For example, cutting down your carbon footprint is a good sustainable practice, but you will not be able to achieve the ultimate prize of knocking down global warming if others are high emitters. So, how do you get them involved? 

  • Review the contracts of suppliers and include a new clause for sustainability. 
  • Ask partners in your business-to-business network to adopt sustainability. 
  • Help farmers and suppliers develop sustainability strategies for their operations. 
  • Support initiatives by the local and international organisations, such as Climate Fresk, to encourage more hotels and other businesses to adopt sustainability. 

Reducing Paper Use 

Does your hotel use a lot of paper? If the answer is "yes," know that it is driving intensive harvesting of trees to make papers. Every day, about 2-million trees are cut down for paper production and your hotel can reverse this by going paperless. The lovely thing about this strategy is that technology makes operations even more effective in a hotel setting. Paperless operations help to cut down costs associated with buying and printing, enhance communication, and facilitate better interaction between a hotel's staff and guests

Here are some good examples of strategies that you can adopt to cut down on paper use in your hotel or restaurant.

  • Using e-receipt for clients instead of printing them. 
  • Shifting to digital manuals and reports. 
  • Use a cloud-based room and property management system. 

Supporting Local Greening and Empowerment Initiatives 

Another highly recognized and followed sustainable practice is working with local communities. As we indicated in the definition, sustainability is broad, and it must factor in society. If your hotel supports the local communities, they will feel part of it and help drive faster growth. They will not only become part of the clients’ network but also refer others, helping to grow their market share and profits. 

Some good examples of initiatives that you can support and enjoy a huge impact on both the sustainability rating and company operations include: 

  • Supporting local youth empowerment groups. 
  • Working with neighbouring business communities to support their efforts for growth. 
  • Identify greening initiatives in the community and help them achieve their goals. 
  • Offer financial, technical and other support to promote social justice to the community. 

Note that although working with local communities bears the best results, assisting even the communities in far-away regions can also deliver top-notch results. For example, you might want to offer food and financial support to communities in war-torn areas of Donbas in Ukraine or Tigray in Ethiopia through a trusted organisation like the United Nations. 

Reducing Energy Use 

Energy use in hotels is approximately US$2,196 for every room per year, which represents about 6% of the overall operating costs. The lovely thing is that there are many sustainable solutions that you can employ to cut down on energy use without compromising the comfort of guests. If you combine them, it is possible to cut down energy-related bills by up to 70%. Here are the best two:

  • Shift to Renewable Energy Sources 

If your hotel can shift to renewable energy sources, you can achieve two core sustainability goals: cutting down related power bills and reducing carbon footprint. Renewable energy sources, such as solar power, allow you to eliminate power bills and edge closer to achieving zero emissions. 

  • Use CONTINEWM to Cut Down Energy Use in Your Hotel 

Air conditioning accounts for the largest part of energy costs in most hotels (up to 52%). To keep this cost low, one of the strategies is installing and using CONTINEWM. This is a device that is installed on the front part of the heat exchanger to help eliminate electrostatic charges. This allows the air to move through smoothly, reducing the work that the HVAC needs to do. 

You can cut the cost of energy associated with HVAC by a huge margin by simply installing CONTINEWM. Other benefits that make using this device a sustainable practice is that it is cheap, easy to install, and very effective in reducing bad odours. 

This post has highlighted some of the best sustainable practices that are recognized and followed in the hospitality industry. You should also consider partnering with international organisations on global sustainability standards and regularly report your efforts to stakeholders. Remember to carefully review your facility and select the strategy that can help to drive sustainability more effectively. Finally, the selected strategy should be evaluated to ensure it is delivering the expected results.