By Nina Simons
The hospitality industry is heading into a new era as people worldwide have become more environmentally aware. Many travellers today expect their accommodations to be eco-friendly and sustainable because they strive to live by those principles at home. Environmental awareness is really what sets hotels apart from each other today, and with a growing number of people prioritizing a green lifestyle, it’s becoming a key determinant in the success of your business. Especially considering that hotels are known for their conspicuous use of energy and resources, implementing green practices in your hotel as soon as possible will come with a number of benefits for the environment as well as cut down costs for you. It’s a win-win situation overall and here are the steps you need to undertake in order to achieve it.
Reduce water and energy waste
There are numerous ways to save water and energy, some that require more investments and time, and others that regard mindful consumption, costing nothing at all. The best thing to do is have a professional evaluate the energy efficiency of your accommodations so you can have a detailed list of your strengths and weaknesses and tackle them accordingly. It really depends on the size of your business and your current practices. You might need better insulation which is an investment that will significantly reduce heating and cooling inside the building, as well as a gradual replacement of appliances in order to implement energy-star rated ones throughout the entire facility. Something that you can do right away is replace all lighting with energy-saving LED bulbs, install occupancy sensors and install low flow or dual flush toilets and urinals. Make sure that maintenance inside the hotel is regular so there are no leaks in toilets and sinks, as leaks lead to a significant waste of water. Use the provided guide as a checklist and implement the energy-saving strategies continually – it’s a process that might require some time, but the progress will be noticeable in a matter of weeks.
Mind the roof
In most hotels, the rooftop is just a surface that houses HVAC units, or in more luxurious ones, it’s a lounging area for cocktail parties. Consider a more eco-friendly and innovative approach. For example, you can use the rooftop to grow an organic vegetable garden whose fresh produce is then used directly in the hotel kitchen; it takes some logistics and constant overseeing, but it’s an extremely eco-friendly choice. If you don’t have a kitchen, a lush, green roof with air-purifying plants will give back the land that your facility has taken up. A roof can also be used to host solar panels or a rainwater harvesting system. But what if your roof is not flat? Look at the example of Bali beach villas with thatched roofs – thatching is made from second-hand, recycled, and all-natural materials, thus it’s one of the most sustainable, versatile and eco-friendly materials available. Depending on your location, thatch might be the perfect aesthetic choice which will also make your eco-friendly aspirations clearly visible at first sight.
Offer organic and local
We’ve just mentioned the possibility of growing your own organic garden at the premises. Think in that direction. If space is tight and growing your own produce is simply not an option, make sure that all food in your kitchen is locally grown. It’s better to give up something on the menu if it’s not available in your vicinity, than to offer food that has travelled miles and miles to get there – guests appreciate the sustainable, locally-focused mindset more, because it gives them an opportunity to participate in a positive economy. Use this principle for all products in your hotel, such as toiletries, decorations, etc.
Food waste in the hospitality industry is a topic for itself that needs our attention gravely. This article explains more in-depth how you can track, reduce, and manage food waste in your hotel. One of the best suggestions is to donate food to a local food bank, as it is not only an environmentally conscious option, but a humane and socially aware one. Naturally, you’d need to check with your legal team first and take into account various health and safety requirements for donating. But the possibility of donating goes beyond food, and it should be used. You can donate old furniture, appliances, and leftover guest amenities to local charities, as well as donate soap and shampoo to shelters and organizations such as Clean the World.
In your efforts to implement green practices, it will be necessary to train your staff as well – from turning the lights off when they leave a room to checking for leaking faucets and closing or opening the drapes in order to regulate the need for heating/cooling inside rooms. Making your accommodations eco-friendly is a mutual effort and should be presented as such, so it’s important to encourage your staff to offer suggestions for improvement. Lastly, don’t let your efforts go unnoticed. Point out all the green practices inside your hotel, because guests will be glad to hear them. By implementing green practices, you can qualify for TripAdvisor’s Green Leader program, so eco-conscious guests are more likely to be pointed in your direction.