You might know why your hotel should go green. In our last article, we set out to explore what’s in it for hotels. To recap, sustainability can help you save money, build your brand, and meet changing customer demand.
But, this begs the question: how do you create a sustainable hotel? Read on to learn some very specific green hotel tips.
What should your hotel focus on?
First and foremost, you need an environmental policy to establish what your hotel focuses on. Here, you state the goals and methods your hotel will use. In general, hotels going green can focus on three specific areas: energy, water, and waste. When you have that policy in place, follow up on your goals with internal progress checks and reports.
Educate your employees
Educating your employees is key to putting your environmental policy into practice.
In fact, you should consider appointing a team or responsible person to oversee your sustainability efforts and to ensure that they’re always prioritized. By taking this step, you’re in good company – big hotel chains like Marriott and Hilton have appointed senior management positions that oversee sustainability efforts.
You need to educate existing employees. However, making your environmental policy part of employee onboarding is equally important. Plus, you might want to consider introducing a reward or incentive system where you reward employees for sticking to your environmental policy.
How do you achieve your goals?
Now you know what you need to focus on and how to implement your environmental policy.
But, what are concrete steps you can take to create a sustainable hotel? Here, we’ve listed six of the most effective green hotel tips to reduce the use of resources, which can amount to significant yearly savings.
1. Get an audit to understand what you need to focus on
A good starting point is to get an audit on things like water and energy consumption. For example, cracks under room doors can easily mean that your hotel uses much more energy than is needed. What does this specifically mean for you? We can figure this out with some easy math.
Let’s say you own an 8-bedroom hotel built in the 1970s in the US. On average, you have ten people staying at your hotel every night. You’re using around 1,409 therms per year and 1,436 kWh at a price of 0.113 per kilowatt-hour and 0.81 per therm. With insulation, you can bring down your yearly heating costs from $1,304 to $654 and save $650 in the process. Calculate your case-specific savings here (for US residents).
2. Recycle waste and save money
The next step is to ensure that your hotel recycles. Not only should this be done in facilities like the kitchen, but you can equip rooms and public areas with recycler baskets. Remember to provide clear and easy instructions to make it as effortless as possible for guests to recycle.
Recycling can have a big impact. For example, a small, 14-bedroom family-run hotel and restaurant in Norfolk, United Kingdom, was able to save over £16000 by reducing packaging and food waste in just one year (2010-2011).
How does this apply to you? The average hotel guest produces about 1 kg waste every night. With a 7-bedroom hotel, you would be dealing with around 5000 kg waste per year if your hotel was fully booked every night with two guests in each room.
By recycling that waste, you would save on things like waste management. For example, in the UK, the landfill tax is now £84.40/ton. If you would recycle 50% (Strattons managed to recycle 98%), you would save around £210 every year. Plus, you save on other things, such as food when you reduce food waste.
3. Use environmentally friendly products
You use a range of products in your hotel. Everything from cleaning to the soap in rooms has some impact on the environment. So, opt to use environmentally friendly products, such as eco-friendly soaps.
Plus, if you run a gift shop, aim to sell eco-friendly products. For example, you might sell memorabilia that’s locally produced instead of mass-produced products. That way, you help the environment and local entrepreneurs.
4. Have a restaurant? Make it green!
In your restaurant, you have room to make a range of green choices that can save you significant sums. Want to calculate exactly what food waste is costing you? Check out this article.
To reduce food waste and minimize the use of meat, you can offer a kids’ menu, doggy bags, vegetarian options, and opt to use the whole animal when serving meat.
Leftovers can be given to food banks and other charity projects (at the same time, you help your community). Instead of using plastic coffee cups, you can opt for ceramic mugs and other dishes. And, if you’re really serious about your sustainability efforts, consider introducing a certification program for your restaurant.
5. Optimize energy use in rooms
Energy can help you meet your sustainability goals in a big way. As we highlighted in our article on the benefits of sustainable hotels, Holiday Inn, Vancouver, Canada, was able to save around $16000 thanks to lowered energy consumption after it installed an in-room energy management system. How can you follow Holiday Inn’s example?
One way is to ensure that energy is not used in empty rooms. Another solution is to switch to environmentally friendly lighting. Here’s a telling example of what that might mean for you:
Normal incandescent light bulbs produce 95% heat and 5% light. On the other hand, LED lights use around 10-20% of the energy that incandescent light bulbs use. Let’s say you have an 8-bedroom hotel with an average of ten people every night. With five light bulbs in every room, you might normally pay around $163 per year with a price of $0.113 per kilowatt-hour. With LED lights, you could cut that bill to $16-32.
6. Help guests go green
Last but not least, keep in mind that your guests can help you achieve your sustainability goals. First, inform them about other travel options than cabs or rental cars, such as walking routes, bicycling, and public transportation.
Want to take it one step further? Consider providing a rideshare or bicycles at your hotel. Doing that against remuneration could eventually pay off as an extra income stream.
Another way is to ask guests to reuse their towels to avoid wasting water. However, you need to ask in the right way – read more about it here.
Conclusion: You can get an immediate return on investment
Green travel is the future. If you’re not already pivoting to a more sustainable hotel, you’re missing out; going green could help you save money from Day 1.
However, it’s a given that going green requires some initial investments – and they can be costly. But, because you know you’ll get an immediate return on your investment by saving money, sustainability is a no-brainer.
Plus, going green doesn’t have to be all that difficult. Here’s exactly how to get started with these green hotel tips:
- Contact a local energy consultant to get an energy audit.
- Start drafting an environmental policy.
- Talk with your employees to figure out the best way to train them (and new employees).
Once you have these fundamental things in place, you’re a lot closer to achieving your sustainability goals.
Camilla Hallstrom is a freelance writer based in Berlin, Germany. Camilla is a contributor to publications such as The Huffington Post and Elite Daily. Say hi on Twitter: @c_hallstrom.