Something had to give…hospitality can finally say goodbye to towels in the bath
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Still, the built environment regularly features in the top ten (in fact, the top one) of the World’s worst greenhouse gas emitters: not just because energy use in any complex, commercial building far exceeds the average domestic home (of course, it does), but because carbon emissions generated in putting those buildings up in the first place, running them, and eventually taking them down, are simply beyond comprehension. So, forget all those jets and juggernauts. If we’re seriously determined to meet the net zero targets set by the Paris Climate Accords (www.un.org), let’s start with all those clunky commercial premises: and let’s focus in the first place on Hotels and Hospitality.
Hospitality is currently responsible for 1% of global carbon emissions. Hotels have the dubious distinction of pumping out no less than 21% of their combined greenhouse gases (https://sustainablehospitalityalliance.org): 18% of the food bought by hospitality outlets is carelessly thrown away, and the average hotel guest gulps up eight times more water annually than anyone living in the local community.
The traditional, died-in-the-wool hotels we’ve grown accustomed to are nothing short of energy-guzzling machines: the City States, with guests arriving and leaving in constant waves and a small army of staff stationed on-site to look after them. Dinosaur hotel operators would think nothing of lighting every corridor twenty-four hours a day (even if there’s nobody in them), heating unoccupied rooms, and powering up air conditioning in winter. And greenwashing gestures, like a towel in the bath or a restricted supply of soap… well, they’re not going to reverse the climate deficit anytime soon. Especially when you factor in how those dreary old hotels were built in the first place: tonnes of concrete and steel, shipped in by convoys of trucks, with 20% of the raw materials constantly lost and found (mostly failed) as workers wade through mud to find them. Plus, the average dinosaur hotel has a thirty-year shelf life, and very few of its raw materials can be recycled: twisted tangles of steel, broken down concrete, and shattered piles of bricks are mostly destined for landfill sites. And that’s why construction is currently the number one producer of waste on the planet.
Isn’t it all too obvious…something’s got to give, so why not start with hotels and hospitality?
In 2020 the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance and International Finance Corporation clubbed together to produce their telling Report, shrewdly (and appropriately) dubbed “The Business Case for Sustainable Hotels” (you can find it at the Sustainable Hospitality link above), and it sets out a compelling case for Green Hospitality.
For a start, the Report recommends better and smarter use of mitigation and resilience tools, with smarter and better buildings created from the ground up to minimise energy and water use, as well as containing embedded carbon components in the hotel’s structure: using materials that can be recycled rather than finally shipped off to yet another landfill site. And it’s not as though meeting those metrics is just so much whistling in the wind…an overwhelming majority of domestic and international travellers now place environmental sustainability pretty much at the top of their agenda when they’re deciding where to stay (70% in fact, according to Booking.com) …added to which embedded sustainability also reduces a hotel’s operating costs by up to 30%. So, you can finally say goodbye to towels in the bath and one less bar of soap: every $1 invested in sustainability reduces climate change costs by $4, which must be a good thing.
Red Ribbon Phoenix Green Hotel Fund (www.redribbon.gi/phoenix-green-hotel)
The Red Ribbon Phoenix Green Hotel Fund operates at the cutting edge of fast-moving hospitality markets: playing an integral role in the facilitation, development and refurbishment of ESG-compliant hotels that each have sustainability at heart, as well as overseeing the complex dynamics of every project to maximise operational efficiencies. The Fund has also long been committed to adopting emerging technologies capable of optimising the allocation of energy and water resources.