Hotels sow, reap benefits from green initiatives
Hotels sow, reap benefits from green initiatives
13 DECEMBER 2016 9:09 AM

Hoteliers are implementing new sustainable initiatives going into 2017, such as digital newspaper delivery and electric car-charging stations, and hotel companies that have already started similar programs are seeing bottom-line benefits.

GLOBAL REPORT—As some hotel companies plan to launch sustainability initiatives in 2017, others who already have committed to eco-friendly programs are starting to see the benefits.

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts chose 2016 as the year to introduce eco-friendly technology, according to Tara Hammond, corporate manager of corporate social responsibility. She said the initiatives are benefiting the environment as well as the bottom lines at Shangri-La properties.

“Four hotels installed solar panels in staff housing, which reduced each housing’s energy consumption by 2,400 kilowatts per hour (kwh) per year,” she said. “Twenty hotels throughout the group replaced high-powered lights with LED lights, resulting in a total energy consumption of over 3.9 million kwh per year. Many other properties focus on reduced gas consumption with improved heat pump systems, while others save tons of water per day through conservation programs.”

Eric Horodas, president and CEO at Greystone Hotels, said his company is working on converting all lighting at properties to LED.

“So that will create a significant reduction in energy usage,” he said. “Of course, it’s expensive to do upfront. … there are rebates sometimes available from a local utility that offset some of the costs, but that results in significant savings in energy use and energy cost going forward.”

Horodas said Greystone also is installing electric car-charging stations at all properties that have parking lots, which are mostly suburban hotels. He said most of the car-charging stations were put in place in partnership with Tesla Motors.

Recycling soap, saving trees
Both Shangri-La and Greystone are working with companies to recycle guestroom bath amenities, which are remade and distributed to the less fortunate.

At Shangri-La, Hammond said the company is recycling guestroom soap bars through a program called “Soap for Hope.”

“Since 2014, hotels have collaborated with suppliers and partners to turn discarded soaps from guestrooms into new soap bars,” she said. “The sanitized soap bars are then distributed to under-privileged communities. Many Shangri-La hotels and resorts now divert used soap from ending up in a landfill through Soap for Hope, and the group is committed to expanding the project to additional hotels.”

Horodas said Greystone is working with a company called Clean the World to recycle bath amenities. He said other companies in the hotel industry, such as the bigger brands, are starting to implement this program.

“Rather than disposing of bath amenities … Clean the World provides us with shipping containers, and we take the used bathroom amenities out of the guestrooms when the rooms are cleaned, and we ship them to Clean the World, and they repackage everything and distribute it to (those in need),” he said.

Both Hammond and Horodas said their companies also are reducing paper consumption by eliminating traditional newspaper delivery and giving guests the option to receive news digitally. Shangri-La has had the program in place since 2014, and Greystone recently implemented the program at its hotels.

“Shangri-La partnered with (a company) to provide an environmentally-friendly way for guests and restaurant patrons to have unlimited, complimentary access to more than 2,000 local, regional and international publications from 100 countries in 60 languages,” Hammond said. “This program replaces approximately 2 million complimentary print newspapers with environmentally-friendly digital versions.”

Horodas said Greystone is working with a company that also helps his company reduce the production of plastic key cards.

“It’s sort of an end-to-end solution that includes mobile check-in and check-out; it includes a smartphone room key, which of course saves on having to buy what essentially becomes disposable plastic key cards,” he said. “But also, it includes a tablet; it includes a series of apps, which also include the popular newspapers that guests typically want to see in a hotel.”

He said all of these efforts “go into sustainability” because newspaper production is reduced, along with the lessened impact of delivery trucks polluting the air and chemicals used to print the paper.

Sustainability as a standard
Many hotel brands have sustainable properties, but TUI Group, a tourism organization based in the Netherlands, requires hotels under their brand to have a certification from Travelife, a sustainable tourism company, said Andrew Cohan, managing director at Horwath HTL.

TUI Group’s European lodging accommodations have Travelife certification, Cohan said, and certified hotels have plaques displayed to promote that status. He said many of the hotels have Travelife Gold certification.

To receive certification, hotels have to undergo an on-property audit. If they qualify, the hotels are given the Travelife Gold award or Excellence award.

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