What To Look For In An Eco-Friendly Hotel?
Business Traveler|September 2019
Hotels are recognizing the need to do more when it comes to sustainability – but there are steps we travelers can take as well
Hannah Brandler

We all want to be good citizens of the world, but how do we reconcile traveling around the planet while at the same time not harming it?

CHOOSING YOUR HOTEL

A property needs to be in a convenient location, at an affordable price and with the facilities and services you require, but once those factors are satisfied, how do you judge whether it is environmentally friendly? Keeping track of a hotel’s sustainability progress is not easy, but here are some things to look out for.

There are various certifications and classifications available for properties worldwide, but the global nature of the hotel industry and the fact that different countries have different standards can make this a confusing area. Bear in mind too that most hotels have been built by developers, may be operated by a third party, and are then perhaps marketed and branded by one of the well-known chains. In such circumstances, finding out just how green your hotel is can be a daunting task.

First, as a rule of thumb, new hotels will have been built to higher environmental specifications than was required for older properties and will have better technology at their disposal. Some of these properties will market themselves as having a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating. Awarded by the USGBC (the US Green Building Council), this globally recognized certification must be applied for and covers eco new-builds, renovations, and interior fittings. Marriott International, for instance, is pursuing LEED certification or equivalent at 650 of its newer or refurbished hotels.

Other groups have taken a different route. Accor is a founding member of the Association pours le Developpement du Bâtiment Bas Carbone. This organization is developing a low-carbon building certification (BBCA) accounting for a building’s greenhouse gas emissions throughout its lifecycle, from construction through to operation and eventual demolition and recycling. This building standard was applied throughout the construction of the new Jo&Joe Paris-Gentilly.

To meet the targets required by certification boards, hotels need to be rigorous in monitoring their greenhouse gas emissions and waste production. Accor’s Gaia tool, launched in 2016, allows its network of hotels to create plans and monitor sustainability progress. Marriott International promises that all properties will have a Serve 360: Doing Good in Every Direction section on the website displaying hotel impact metrics by the end of next year, while IHG’s Green Engage platform has four levels of certification and offers hotels “200 Green Solutions” – ways to report and manage their carbon, energy, water, and waste. The group says that last year almost 8,000 solutions were implemented globally, with those using the platform avoiding a total of $67 million in costs.

Systems, however, are not always centralized. Iberostar Hotels and Resorts has invested more than €33 million ($37 million) into improving energy consumption behavior across its 100 properties but has a more localized approach. For example, the Iberostar Selection Cancun has an Intelligent Building System that monitors and controls temperatures in the hotel, while the Iberostar Selection Playa Mita in Mexico installed systems that collect kinetic energy from moving elevators, reducing energy use by 50 percent.

BEING A GREEN GUEST

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