Making an extra effort for the environment

Hotel garden.

Running an environmentally-friendly hotel is becoming a core part of operations for major hotel chains and smaller properties alike.

Over the last few years we’ve seen most hotel chains including Accor, IHG, Hilton, Marriott, Heritage, and many more, commit to removing single-use plastics.

While every effort helps, there are a whole lot more ways hotels can cut out their impact on the planet.

Nikki Harris, managing director at Intelligent Environments, said there are a lot of easy things that can be done in any building to minimise its environmental impact.

“Controlling output of light fittings, automating lights, heating, and cooling, so these are not left running in unoccupied spaces, setting outside lighting to automatically schedule on/off according to changing sunset and sunrise times,” suggested Harris.

“All of these are a given in today’s world for any building demonstrating a commitment towards energy saving.”

However, she said that when new buildings are erected, or major renovations take place, the ‘life of the product’ is often neglected with cost-cutting at the construction stage. Hardware decisions are often based on initial price rather than the cost over the length of its life.

“A product may work perfectly initially, but if it fails after 15 months the real cost is likely higher than the recommended robust hardware with proven longevity.”

The result of this is every failed or unsupported product ends up in a landfill and preventing unused items from going to landfill is key for any seriously eco-conscious hotel. An example of this is with luxury hotel chain JW Marriott and its new collection of uniforms. After receiving the new wardrobe, JW Marriott hotels began repurposing and reusing the brand’s old uniforms in partnership with American corporate apparel company Cintas. Marriott will collect the retired uniforms in the boxes used to ship the company’s new wardrobe, and send them back to Cintas who will shred the garments and repurpose the remaining fibres.

Another green initiative growing in popularity is hotels keeping beehives on-site. Cordis, Auckland, for example, has a rooftop beehive which not only helps to conserve bees in Auckland city and assist with pollination but also allows Cordis to produce its own honey which the hotel uses.

Andrea Grigg, executive vice president and director of asset management services for JLL said that while sustainable practices make good business sense for hotels, it is millennial travellers driving these changes.

“Millennials are not moved by traditional loyalty programmes, and in order to target this generation, a hotel has to cater to their specific interests,” said Grigg.

Younger travellers want real tangible efforts and changes being made to help the environment and feel there is an element of social responsibility in staying a hotel.

“They want to see that the property has a positive impact on the community.”