Hotels claim balance-sheet benefits of a lighter carbon footprint

Written by: Mital Hall

Paris Climate Agreement goals are as clear as they are challenging. Global temperatures must not increase more than 1.5° Celsius (2.7° Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. The consequences are no less clear. They range from storms and rising sea levels to drought and extreme heat. Essential to avoiding those perils, greenhouse gas emission must be reduced to zero.[1]
A hotel industry group, the International Tourism Partnership has determined that annual emissions must be vastly reduced from 2010 levels. They target a 90% per room greenhouse gas reduction by 2050.[2]

What’s being done?

The hospitality industry can reduce its carbon footprint even while more properties are being built and more guests are being accommodated. These strategies brought recognition, guest appreciation, and balance sheet benefit to hotels and resorts in 2019:

  • Resilient renovations

    The recycling and reuse of furnishings limits replacement costs while shrinking the property’s carbon footprint. Fewer purchased goods are transported to the hotel, and less waste is hauled from it.[3]

    A renovation project can create a fresher, healthier guest experience while minimize the property’s carbon footprint. Sustainable choices in fixtures and furniture reduce the off-gassing of volatile organic compounds.[4]

  • Solar-powered properties

    Why bring solar power to a single building, when an entire resort can run on free energy from the sun? A 7.4-acre resort in the Maldives is powered by rooftop solar panels. This led the way for other hotels in the island chain who have installed solar panels at their properties.

    Beyond enjoying cost savings, resorts may sell excess power to their utility companies. Some U.S. states provide tax credits for solar investments. Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) may be available, limiting the capital outlay. With a PPA, a third-party delivers zero-carbon solar power at a contracted price and allows any tax benefits to be passed along. Savings on taxes and utility bills can be redirected to upgrades that enhance the guest experience.[5]

  • Innovative architecture

    A green roof blankets the wintry chill at an underground parking garage for a hotel in Canada. That reduces the need for carbon-powered heating. In summer, the inside temperature is moderated as the living surface absorbs stormwater runoff. Quality of life is improved year-round as pollutants, including noise pollutants, are filtered.[6]

    Modular rooms for a New York City hotel are being prefabricated to minimize waste while dramatically streamlining construction efficiency. When the hotel opens in 2020, the improved insulation between rooms will save energy and provide a quieter space.[7]

  • Smart guest room technology

    A property’s carbon footprint can be reduced when occupancy sensors verify that a checkout is complete. In the vacant room, smart thermostats adjust room temperature and turn off light fixtures and the television. Maintenance and repairs become more efficient, using less energy, when sensors detect electrical and water system problems.[2]

  • Paperless systems

    Less paper means less waste. Fewer trees are felled and a lighter load of supplies is shipped. All of these are steps toward carbon neutrality.

    A truly paperless system integrates guest-facing and property management capabilities. It centrally manages folios, payments, receipts, and invoices. Services can be marketed, reserved, and paid through the guest application. Payroll can be managed electronically, and supplies ordered through business-to-business web services.[8]

  • Farm-to-table restaurants

    In many hotels and resorts, chefs source their menus locally. Guests can enjoy fresh produce brought in from a nearby farm. Closer food sources mean fewer transportation miles and less diesel fuel sent to the atmosphere.

    The trend seems profitable as well as environmentally friendly. Food industry research projected that 2019 would see $20 billion in local foods sales. That’s a 400% increase over 2008 levels.[9]

Exploring sustainability and wellness

Westin Grand Bohemian Hotel

The 2019 Sustainable Hospitality Summit[10] will present a full day of exploring the Intersection of Health and Hospitality. U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) hosts the event on September 20th.

Learn how the hospitality industry is reducing its footprint. Sessions will focus on design strategies in response to climate risks, how carbon emissions and waste can be reduced, and what the hospitality industry can do to promote healthy communities.

Other sessions will focus on the guest perspective, including wellness experiences, gender inclusion, and sustainable storytelling.

On this third year of the summit, the event will be held at Orlando’s Westin Grand Bohemian Hotel, a recipient of the USGBC LEED Gold award.

As hotels and resorts become more resilient, they also promote health, wellness for their guests. A recent article shares how that is being done through amenities, expanded services, and functional design.

[1] WRI.org — World Research Institute
[2] HotelManagement.net
[3] HospitalityNet.org
[4] Hotel-Online.com
[5] HotelNewsNow.com
[6] EcoSalon.com
[7] HospitalityNet.org — Opinion
[8] RoomKeyPMS.com
[9] BusinessInsider.com
[10] USGBC.org – Sustainable Hospitality Summit information and registration

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Mital Hall

Vice President

At ecoPreserve, Mital leads all sustainability projects and Smart Cities initiatives. Her skillset is the result of more than 15 years of sustainable development experience that includes work with universities, local/state/federal governments, and businesses.

Copyright © 2021 ecoPreserve. All Rights Reserved.

AWARE of CDC and NIH guidelines

The Baseline Property Condition Assessments described in ASTM E2018-15 do not specify consideration of infectious disease transmission concerns. In a pandemic and post-pandemic environment, that inspection and documentation is essential.

Buildings open to the public must comply with local regulations. For best results and greatest public acceptance, any planning for building repairs and maintenance should not overlook current CDC and NIH guidelines.

Optionally, ecoPreserve's can assist with a comprehensive GBAC STAR™ Accreditation which extends beyond the building to include the goals, actions, equipment, and supplies needed to implement best practices for outbreak prevention, response, and recovery.

Tools tailored to location and need

Disaster resilience requires a select toolset, identified, adapted, or created as needed based on planning calls and inclusive workshop participation.

Business and government organizations today are confronted by threat categories that range from drought to flood, from fire to hurricane, and extend globally to pandemics and sea level rise. Threat categories are broad and diverse, but ecoPreserve and collaborating organizations design resiliency tools for specific local context.

Local needs are identified and verified. Building from that essential understanding, tools are designed, tested in pilot programs, refined, then implemented through action plans.

Today's challenges/
tomorrow's potential

ecoPreserve collaborates with major community and private organizations in optimizing the resiliency and resource efficiency of their workplaces, venues, and public spaces.

In response to ever-increasing environmental, sociopolitical, and public health challenges, we advocate for and participate in assessment and planning actions that directly address disaster preparations, recovery activities, infrastructure improvements, and smart building/city design.

Online and in-person workshops

ecoPreserve designs and leads workshops in varied formats, to achieve varied goals.

Often an event is held for skill and knowledge development, but some needs of an organization or community are better resolved through collaboration to identify requirements and to design solutions. A range of Disaster Resilience workshops are available for solutions planning and development, as well as for training and communication.

Disaster Planning and Recovery Workshops

  • Identify technical and business process gaps
  • Define stakeholders, recovery teams, and processes/functionalities necessary for operation
  • Highlight missed expectations from a data loss and recovery time perspective
  • Address compliance with regulatory agencies and industry standards
Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

Facility Condition Report

The report is prepared in accordance with the recommendations of ASTM E2018-15, Standard Guide for Property Condition Assessments. This is a partial list of contents:

  • PHYSICAL CONDITION
    • General condition of the building, grounds, and appurtenances
    • Physical deficiencies, their significance, and suggested remedies
    • Photographs
    • Safety issues observed
  • INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPREAD POTENTIAL
  • OPPORTUNITIES
    • Potential operating efficiencies
    • Electricity and water use reductions
    • High-efficiency interior and exterior lighting
  • ORDER OF MAGNITUDE RENOVATION BUDGET
    • Recommended interior finishes
    • Construction costs

Risk Mitigation Improvements

  • IAQ
    • Airflow
    • Temperature and humidity
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC EQUIPMENT
    • Settings
    • Conditions
    • Capability
    • Filtration
  • FLOORPLAN
    • Traffic patterns
  • FURNISHINGS
    • Placement for social distancing
    • Clear barriers where social distancing is not possible

Interior Elements

  • Foundation
  • Building frame and roof
  • Structural elements
    • Floors, walls, ceilings
    • Access and egress
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC equipment and ductwork
  • Utilities
    • Electrical
    • Plumbing
  • Safety and fire protection

Grounds and Appurtenances

  • Façades or curtainwall
  • Topography
  • Storm water drainage
  • Paving, curbing, and parking
  • Flatwork
  • Landscaping
  • Recreational facilities
Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

AWARE of CDC and NIH guidelines

The Baseline Property Condition Assessments described in ASTM E2018-15 do not specify consideration of infectious disease transmission concerns. In a pandemic and post-pandemic environment, that inspection and documentation is essential.

Buildings open to the public must comply with local regulations. For best results and greatest public acceptance, any planning for building repairs and maintenance should not overlook current CDC and NIH guidelines.

Optionally, ecoPreserve's can assist with a comprehensive GBAC STAR™ Accreditation which extends beyond the building to include the goals, actions, equipment, and supplies needed to implement best practices for outbreak prevention, response, and recovery.

An OPTIMIZED Assessment

Certified Sustainability Consultants on a facility assessment team can discover ways to lower energy costs. Their understanding of HVAC equipment suitability and condition along with the specifics of LED lighting retrofits can provide offsets for needed investments in upgrades and replacements.

Knowledge of water systems can bring further savings while averting water waste. It can all be part of an assessment which might otherwise overlook water fixtures and irrigation schedules.

How should a facility be ASSESSED?

A thorough facility assessment finds the issues - on the surface or below - which have a potential negative impact on the building. That brings the facility to meet building codes. Beyond that, the assessment proactively addresses the deficiencies not covered by code.

The occupants of a building benefit as the assessment reveals conditions having a potential impact on their health or safety. The assessment must not overlook those conditions, nor fail to consider the frequency and duration of occupant visits.