How to Create a More Sustainable Hospitality Program

How to Create a More Sustainable Hospitality Program

At this point, you know by now your hotel needs to be greener. Not only is there the ethical and even legal implications, but it saves money, makes your guests and employees happier, strengthens your brand and frankly, the competition will leave you in the dust if you don’t. 

Understandably, beginning the journey to a more sustainable hotel or opening an Eco-Resort may feel daunting. Challenges include property age, size, location, small budgets and an even leaner teams… lots of roadblocks that can make this endeavor a little intimidating but I’m here to tell you they are all surmountable.

Below, I break it down into four areas of focus and have listed several examples of each pillar. These examples are pulled directly from my 97-point Eco Checklist that is available for FREE (at the bottom of this article). Once you are able to assign tasks with owners and reasonable timelines, it won’t feel as overwhelming. Remember that each and every step forward is great progress, and that it’s easier than ever to find guidance and resources!

I. Administration
Getting started: Enlisting help and establishing goals. 

  • Assemble your “Green Team” - one leader from different departments like procurement, guest rooms, grounds & maintenance, engineering, marketing, HR, etc. Set weekly check-ins together with the executive sponsor.

  • Know your environmental footprint. Set your baselines and benchmarks with the help of engineers, a sustainability consultant and third-party certifiers, like Green Globe, that will audit current levels of energy, water, and waste usage. 

  • Align on a clear vision by writing an Environmental Policy Statement and/or establish a CSR program. To give you an idea on goal setting, the International Tourism Partnership (ITP) reported that hotels must reduce their emissions by 66% by 2030.

  • Engage outside contractors: Architects, sustainability consultants, landscapers, engineers, etc that can assist in project management.

  • Create a budget, timeline, and project checklist where owners and deadlines can be assigned to each task. 

II.  Infrastructure & Waste Management   
It has been estimated that 75% of a hotel’s environmental impact can be directly related to excessive consumption. Water, waste, and energy projects are the majority of hotel’s costs and therefore the largest opportunity for savings and preservation. Think about the prospect of a 100% circular environment, aiming to make the most out of all resources. 

  • Structural - Build with sustainably sourced raw materials and natural sunlight. Establish a renewable energy source. Install green roofs and collect rain water.  

* Fun Fact! Most energy and water saving projects have an ROI of 25 to 50%! *

  • Operational - Invest in in-room energy management systems, grey water treatment and potable water sources. Create linen, electronics, and hazardous material recycling and disposal programs.

  • Grounds & Gardens - Compost food scraps that feed organic gardens. Provide electric car charging stations and use motion-sensored landscape lighting.

  • Guest Rooms - Install low-flow toilets & showers. Avoid in-room minibars, bathtubs, and daily newspaper delivery. Supply recycling bins and refillable water stations.

III. Procurement
For every purchase ask: Is this sustainably and ethically made? Is it eco-labeled? Is it in low-impact packaging? Is there a non-plastic option? Can it be sourced locally? Can we consolidate vendors? Can it be reused or at least recycled? Do we need it? 

  • Operational - Purchase water & energy-efficient appliances (dishwashers, hand-dryers, exit signs, etc). Use e-receipts and non-plastic room key systems.

  • Interiors - Reduce in-room consumables usage by providing refillable dispenser systems and biodegradable eco-friendly products. Source environmentally friendly (organic, certified, reclaimed, or upcycled) furniture and furnishings, drycleaning, even flooring.

    * Not So Fun Fact! The top 300 hotel groups in the world dispose of 5.5 BILLION amenity bottles and caps each year. *

  • Food & Beverage - Eliminate single-use containers for food takeaway, condiments, etc. Offer plenty of vegetarian and vegan meals. Limit buffets. Source local, organic, and non-endangered foods. 

  • Supplies - Buy eco-labeled paper goods, rechargeable batteries and energy-efficient light bulbs. Choose biodegradable, non-toxic, non-aerosol, safe cleaning products.

IV. Connection
Your guests and staff want to feel apart of the solution, to feel good about the choice they made with their money and time. Share your journey! 

  • Instate a carbon emission offset plan

  • Partner with businesses and charity programs that are relevant to your brand, your location, and your community.

  • Offer green Guest & Employee transportation and activity programs

  • Design a digital marketing content and multimedia guest communication strategies.

  • Publish CSR updates yearly

Based on 2018’s scathing UN Climate report, we have 11 years to make significant changes in our way of life and our business so get started today!

We offer a free checklist template which will help you to lower your environmental footprint and increase your profits. To download your copy of the Hospitality Eco Checklist (with 97 ideas!), simply fill out the short form below.

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Thank you for your commitment! Best of luck and please send us any feedback or questions.


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