Importance of Sustainability in Hospitality

Sustainability in Hospitality

Importance of Sustainability in Hospitality3 min read

Luc Hillege

Environmental Specialist at Ecochain

April 24, 2019


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The demand for sustainable products and services is growing. Initially, sustainability predominantly focused on the production industry, yet, over the past years tourism experienced an increase of demand, too. In 2017, already 87% of travelers rated sustainability as an important factor for them and almost 40% actively made use of more sustainable travel and lodging options. Furthermore, two third of travelers indicated that they would be willing to pay at least 5% extra for a more sustainable alternative. This trend has also been recognized by travel agencies, 58% of all ANVR members noticed a rising demand for eco-holidays (the ANVR is the Dutch branch association for the travel industry).

The tourism sector is responsible for 8% of the global greenhouse gas emissions (ABN-AMRO: Groen is Poen), ranking hotels as the second largest polluters. In Amsterdam alone hotels are responsible for the emission of roughly 700.000 tons of CO2 every year, which can be translated to environmental damages worth €75 million (Ecochain). Due to this relatively high environmental impact, hotels are explicitly addressed in the Paris Climate accord to reduce their CO2-emissions by 66% in 2030.

Sustainability Labels as Guides

To accommodate the growing demand, by now over 800 sustainability labels and certificates are available. These labels help to guide both guests and businesses towards making sustainable choices. In fact, in 2017 one third of Dutch businesses declared that they no longer consider booking hotels without sustainability labels for their employees. (Research by ABN AMRO)

These labels are a great step forwards, yet they primarily base their evaluation of the environmental performance of hotels on qualitative, static lists as opposed to quantitative methodologies that provide scientifically validated measurements. As a result, these labels can currently not represent hotels that go beyond their sustainable requirements. Based on the use of qualitative lists, it is hard to identify the exact environmental impacts of hotels and provide insights into the origin of these impacts and these qualitative labels don’t provide insights into opportunities to improve sustainable performance. To arrive at these insights, hotels need to consider quantitative methodologies that allow hoteliers to reduce their environmental footprint by diving into the details so they can tackle specific issues.

Ecochain’s Pilot Project in 2017

During a pilot project in 2017, Ecochain calculated the environmental impact of 10 hotels in Amsterdam. This pilot project showed that such calculations can be performed in as little as one day, and provide hoteliers with accurate and valuable insight to decrease their environmental impact. It also demonstrated that hotels significantly differ from each other in terms of total environmental impact and the origin of these impacts. For some hotels, for example, electricity might be an important factor, while the environmental impact of other hotels might be largely caused by their food consumption or even their furniture.

Whitepaper: ‘Revealing the Environmental Hotspots of Hotels’

To help the industry move forward with an effective sustainable strategy, we have developed a white paper to share our knowledge and experience. We are grateful for the cooperation of the participating hotels to make this possible.

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