As consumers become more and more sensitive to environmental issues, the demand for green products and services continues to grow. In many industries, there is a lot of pressure for companies to go green and be more environmentally friendly.
Within the hospitality industry, many companies large and small are beginning to aggressively pursue green rankings and certifications for their hotel locations. Why? The answer is threefold:
- Hospitality businesses save money in the long run when they go green
- Travelers are seeking out eco-friendly places to stay
- Environmental regulations are being enforced
Green Hotel Rankings: What Does It All Mean?
TripAdvisor, one of the most popular hotel search websites recognizes that conscientious travelers want to stay at conscientious hotels, so they’ve started creating their own ranking system.
They’ve developed the GreenLeaders Program to recognize hotels and B&Bs that engage in environmentally-friendly practices. GreenLeader properties are eligible for one of four badge levels: bronze, silver, gold and platinum based on the answers they provide on TripAdvisor’s Green Practices survey. All participating hotels and B&Bs must meet a minimum set of requirements to even be considered for the program.
These eco-friendly luxury hotels from Design Hotels™ have partnered with EarthCheck, a world leading sustainability benchmarking and certification provider in the hospitality arena to incorporate new sustainability practices.
All of these efforts by the hospitality industry to go green are just the beginning of a movement to change the way they do things for the betterment of the universe.
Now, let’s look at the top reasons the hospitality industry is going green in more detail.
#1: Long-Term Monetary Savings
One of the key focuses of green technology is resource efficiency. These technologies reduce resource consumption, saving hotels money in the long run.
For example, replacing standard incandescent light bulbs with longer-lasting high-efficiency bulbs is a popular way for hotels to reduce their energy bills. A standard fluorescent bulb uses 60 watts of power, while an LED light might use 6-8 watts of power to generate the same amount of light (800 lumens).
Did you know the typical amount of energy used by 30 standard incandescent bulbs each year is 3,285 kWh? If your energy rate was 10 cents per kilowatt hour, then that would mean those bulbs cost you $328.50 just to keep the lights on.
On the other hand, the same number of LED lights would only consume about 329 kWh of energy over the course of a year. This would mean that at the same energy rate of 10 cents per kilowatt hour, operating the LED lights would only cost $32.90 a year, a tenth the expense.
As an added bonus, your hotel wouldn’t have to replace its lights nearly as often, since LED lights last an average of 50,000 hours to an incandescent bulb’s meager 1,200 hours. That means you would have to pay for parts and labor to replace an incandescent light 41 times before you would have to buy a replacement LED light and have housekeeping replace it.
In short, many green technologies can actually become self-funding by reducing your hotel’s operating costs.
In fact, the Hyatt Regency in Reston, Virginia was able to reduce the water consumption of their laundry operation by nearly 80%, and their heating utility and chemical use by half after making the switch to a low-water laundry system. They drastically cut the cost of their laundry operation, without making guests reuse dirty towels or linens.
There are many other examples of green technologies that help to conserve energy costs, such as water saving laundry systems—which use up to 80% less water, up to 50% less energy, and provide a superior clean that leaves laundry softer for longer.
Other green technologies that help save money are solar panels that can be used to lessen your dependence on outside energy, and automated systems that can shut off electronic devices in a room when there are no guests present, such as the ones used by the LEED Gold-certified Aria Resort and Casino on Las Vegas Boulevard.
#2: Meeting the Needs of Eco-Conscious Travelers
As was mentioned earlier, consumers are becoming more and more aware of how important it is to protect the environment. Many hotel guests want to stay in a "green" hotel, as it allows them to know that they’re helping to protect the environment.
Millennials are increasingly expecting the destination resorts they patronize to be environmentally conscious—without paying an additional price.
According to Scott Lee, a designer of Ritz-Carlton and Auberge properties, millennials are inclined to stay at destination hotels that are both environmentally and culturally sustainable. "How do we preserve a place, yet share it with the world?" is a question he seeks to answer to appeal to the environmentally concerned consumer.
This presents a unique opportunity for hotels. Green efforts, more often than not, save hotels money in the long term. So an investment in being more environmentally friendly not only results in more customers, but more savings as well. More revenue at less cost, it’s a win-win for green hotels.
Having a green certification allows hotels to draw these ecologically-minded guests to their locations. This can help to differentiate your brand from less eco-friendly hotels. By going green, you’re opening your hotel to an entire segment of the population that you might never have had access to otherwise, helping you grow your brand.
Even among less eco-conscious travelers, the good PR that comes with earning a place on green company ranking lists such as the one published by Newsweek can never hurt.
#3: Conforming to New Environmental Regulations
Market demand for green services isn’t the only factor that contributes to the decision to go green.
As the public becomes more sensitive to the Earth’s environment, policymakers also take notice, passing new laws and regulations designed to limit pollution. In some cases, however, new regulations may be passed to contend with a specific emergency.
For example, in California, the population has been living with a severe drought for several years. This drought eventually became so severe that the Governor added new permanent statewide water use restrictions this year and penalties for violators. The laws will phase in gradually. By 2022, the indoor use limit becomes 55 gallons per day per person. By 2030, it drops to 50.
By employing green technologies and methods, hoteliers can be better prepared for any new upcoming environmental restrictions that may come in the future.
Hospitality Industry’s Responsibility to "Make a Difference"
The hotel industry is responsible for about 15% of the total water use in commercial and institutional buildings in the U.S. Hotels in the U.S. use an average of 25 gallons of water per room, per day for laundry alone. That's more than 2 million gallons of water per month if you assume a 65% occupancy.
What all these numbers amount to is that the hotel industry has an incredible opportunity to actually make a difference in the fight for water conservation without sacrificing profits or the quality of the guest experience. If that’s not a reason to go green, we don’t know what is.