Green Hotels: Innovation in Sustainable Operations
The hospitality industry is experiencing tremendous growth which is expected to continue as influence from the millennial generation increases along with the demand for select service. Not only is the hospitality industry growing due to lifestyle shifts which include more travelling, but because of the highly lucrative market of conferences, conventions, and meetings which bring together business professionals from around the world.
The growth in construction, transactions, visits, and investments of hotels means there’s never been a better time to pursue green and sustainable designations within the hospitality industry. Green hotels are growing in demand both from patrons and employees. Many of the world’s most recognizable hotel brands are also driving the green hotels evolution which is raising the bar when it comes to consumer expectations and industry-standard practices.
Elements of Green Hotels
Green hotels are generally considered as going above and beyond standard operational practices so as to include environmentally friendly or sustainable standards. Green hotels can become designated and certified through certain associations such as the Green Key Rating Program. These rating systems assess certain areas of operational performance and determine how they measure up when it comes to sustainability. One key focus of green hotels is the overall “health” of the building to ensure occupants are protecting their wellbeing. The health of a hotel is determined by a number of factors as outlined below.
Implementing a smart water management plan is not only important to the environment but to a hotel’s bottom line as well. Water consumption accounts for on average 10% of a hotel’s utility expenses. Green hotels have practices in place which are water-conscious including:
- Linen cards which remind patrons not to use new towels each time
- Low flush toilers
- Low pressure shower heads
- Waste-water treatment and recycling
Green hotels understand that they can cut their energy bills by 20% simply by creating a culture of conservation within their facilities. Lights out cards and reminders are an easy step for hotels to take to save energy. Motion sensors can be installed in public restrooms, recreational facilities, and in meeting rooms so as to cut back on energy consumption. Energy management systems are specifically designed for hotels and improve efficiency through lighting and temperature controls.
Harsh cleaning chemicals, formaldehyde, Volatile Organic Compounds, and improper ventilation all lead to poor indoor air quality which negatively impacts the health of staff and guests. Green hotels are designed to control and monitor indoor air quality which has been a growing concern within the hospitality industry. Many green hotels have opted to pursue LEED certification which addresses major design concerns in order to improve health and wellbeing while lowering operating costs.
Additionally, many hotels are being designed to include more green spaces for the benefit of both guests and staff. Living walls, green roofs, and the increased presence of indoor plants and gardens are all design elements which green hotels are pursuing. In fact, many hotels are known and recognized for their beautiful living walls, green roofs, or indoor gardens.
Recycling & Waste Management
Waste management is a critical component of green hotels’ practices as enormous volumes of waste disposal are a natural part of operating in the hospitality industry. Waste can however, be decreased by implementing many of the practices of green hotels including:
- Employee engagement recycling programs
- Food waste reduction initiatives
- Mattress recycling programs
- Decreased packaging consumption or eco-friendly alternatives to packaging
Waste disposal is becoming a growing operational expense across many industries and these practices are not only environmentally friendly but they improve the bottom line of green hotels as well.
Green Hotel Innovative Initiatives
There are some incredible innovations arising as a result of the push towards green hotels. These innovations can benefit other industries as well who are looking to make operational shifts for the benefit of both the environment and business operations.
Waste to Energy Conversion
The Best Western Chillworth Manor in the UK has a micro power plant on-site which converts their 500 kilograms of food waste into energy through a system called the SEaB Energy’s Flexibuster. Not only does the system produce heat and electricity but it converts the food waste into a nutrient-rich fertilizer as well.
Data Collection & Management
Farimont Hotels & Resorts has become an industry leader in green hotel practices. Their internal Data Management System allows all Farimont properties to share their green practices and track the subsequent results. This open-source data sharing program has been pinnacle in gathering information and creating company-wide green solutions and practices that not only improve Fairmont’s value but unites their company globally.
Living Wall Prevents Run-off
The Rubens at the Palace hotel in London installed the city’s largest living wall in an effort to combat the chronic stormwater run-off problem they’ve been experiencing due to vanishing green spaces. The 350 square metre vertical garden is a perfect example of what green hotels can do to protect the environment while adding value to their business. This living wall has attracted tourists from around the world and gained them global recognition for its architectural design, beautiful aesthetics, and contribution to sustainability.Feature Image: Hyatt Hotels has committed to an environmental sustainability goal to be achieved by 2020. Image via GreenHotelier.com