Know where you want to go
Know where you want to go
01 JULY 2009 2:50 PM

Creating a sustainable development road map is essential to any business that is serious about implementing such a strategy.

Whatever we do, whatever we plan, it’s always better to have a goal and set cornerstones to achieve it. Creating a sustainable development road map is essential to any business that’s serious about implementing such a strategy. It helps keep us on track and obliges us to strive to achieve and remain focused on the ultimate goals. A roadmap truly leads to operational commitment and culture change. It’s also a strong indicator of the company’s pledge to its strategy and helps negate any accusations of greenwashing.

Some might wonder if it’s too difficult to design a road map, or if it’s too great of a pressure on their business. A roadmap helps put ideas together in a logical sequence. By defining goals for the future, it shows that even if results aren’t impressive, the achievements will be substantial eventually.

Based on developing a balanced approach to profit, people and planet—the triple bottom line (TBL)—the strategy should integrate these three criteria. Large companies usually will set a 10-year road map, but smaller entities might settle for a five-year plan and create a matrix between the TBL and calendar years.

Focusing on the TBL is best to guarantee alignment of initiatives for the holistic approach to sustainable development. We understand now that to be green is no longer sufficient; businesses today must become sustainable. One could even go as far as to say those businesses that care only about the environment are selfishly looking at decreasing costs, despite the fact they’re not aware of that positive consequence yet. While caring for the planet, companies should translate their marketing messages into reality, taking responsibility to care for communities in need around them and the world.

The first result of a road map is to compel team members to define where they want to go, so they don’t shoot in all directions with no particular purpose. Three approaches can be undertaken. One is to identify the goals after a brainstorming session with the associates. This warrants a stronger commitment of the team because the strategy will embrace what’s important to them. The second idea is to cascade the mother company’s own goals on a local level, which guarantees a broader perception of the achievements. A third suggestion is to support the company’s major goals locally but add other initiatives to make a strong difference in the property’s market.

Key indicators
It’s important to define the right key indicators to measure where a company stands in terms of achieving its goals. Absolute targets (number of community service hours; achievement of a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification; total emissions) or indexed targets (number of community service hours per employee; kilowatt hours per occupied room or per available square foot) can be used depending on what’s more relevant for the specific initiative, and most importantly, what’s easily measurable and makes sense. The road map should be reviewed and fine tuned every year until the team feels comfortable with the strategy and its indicators.

So what should the goals be? Taking the TBL approach, goals can be split into profit, people and planet. Here’s a list of ideas that can be used as a basis, but the best ideas will come out of your team. And again, the parent company’s goals can serve as a basis too. Possible measurements are indicated in brackets.

Profit (Governance can be added to this part)
Keeping businesses focused on diminishing utility bills and increasing revenue from companies interested in being associated to a responsible hotel.
Reduce energy costs
Electricity (kWh per occupied room)
Water (gallons per occupied room)
Gas (cubic feet per occupied room)
Develop revenue by targeting client companies involved in sustainable development
Compliance with company’s rules and regulations; Sarbanes Oxley Act compliance

Taking care of the communities around us and the world.
Health and safety (lost days of work, number of injuries, training hours)
Employee satisfaction (ratio)
Local communities
Support of local charities (amount of money raised, number of service hours)
Special events (realized)
Education (support of a local school or number of specific events)
Health (actions to educate and help local communities about specific health-related issues)
Culture (events, support of local cultural entities)
Promote local farming (percent of merchandise purchased)
World communities
Participate in national or international community-support programs (AIDS, cancer, malaria, children’s’ education, women’s rights, diversity, fair trade)

Reducing our carbon footprint and ensuring we make the right decisions for future generations.
Waste management
Reduction of landfill (tons)
Increase of recycling (tons)
Composting (tons)
Use of hybrid vehicles for guest transportation (mileage)
Offset of employee travel carbon footprint (participation in a program)
Annual employee public transportation (mileage)
Water conservation
Towel/linen reuse (percent of clients adhering to the program). One important point to stress: Redistribute your savings to charities. Your good action will then be better understood and not taken as a way of simply reducing your costs.
Water-saving devices (gallons of water saved)
Waterfree urinals (gallons of water saved)
Support of local environment (adopt a park, a lake, a river; animal protection)
Planting of trees or other necessary elements to keep or redevelop species in their natural environment
First and foremost, ask for an energy assessment of the building, which will give strong indications of where to focus
Replacement of incandescent lighting by compact fluorescent lighting and light emitting diodes (percent vs. total number of bulbs)
Purchase of renewable energy (percent). It’s not that expensive and is more than compensated by the implementation of CFLs or LEDs
Installation of sensors in back of house, public areas and rooms (percent vs. total hotel)
Installation of green roof (square footage)
ISO 14001, LEED or other environmental certifications (achievement)
Reduction of paper consumption (number of boxes)
Use of recycled paper (percent of postconsumer waste paper)
Purchase of local, organic and sustainable produce and other dry products ( percent)

These suggestions aren’t a complete list but provide a good idea of what can be achieved by any business and particularly by the hotel industry. Let’s not forget our responsibility toward future generations. If there’s one ultimate goal to reach, it’s that the children of our children will thank us for this legacy!



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