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Is your hospitality property living up the sustainable efforts your guests expect?

If so, Excellent! If not, I will show you how to create a place where every guest feels welcome.

Welcome to another edition of Hospitality Property School.

I am your instructor, Gerry MacPherson.

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Investing in renewable & eco-friendly resources for hospitality properties used to be a luxury, but now is necessary. Today, it can help you improve your properties overall profit and patronage.

Renewable power, including wind and hydroelectric power, are set to rise by 40 per cent over the next five years.

While less than 2% of the world’s electricity is currently generated through solar technology, a recent report estimated that this figure could increase to as much as 13% by the year 2030.

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It’s clear that renewable energy is here to stay as more companies embrace it and in this group, the travel industry stands out.

Without a program in place, hospitality properties can be very wasteful and consume a huge amount of resources but don’t panic, many greening initiatives are not expensive to implement and can provide substantial benefits to your business!

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There are three key areas of the environmental impact that properties should consider; energy, water, and waste.

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Energy – Excessive energy use is extremely costly but with minor adjustments, it can lead to massive cost savings.

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Waste – One study estimate identified that an average hotel produces in excess of one kilogram of waste per guest per day. The good news is that approximately 30 per cent of waste in hotels can be diverted through reuse and recycling.

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Water – Tourists and residents alike require a clean and dependable supply of water for survival including drinking, cooking & cleaning. Water is also integral to the amenities usually expected by tourists, such as swimming pools, landscaped gardens, and golf courses. Water also supports industries such as agriculture that support the tourism industry.

Several studies have indicated that economic benefits can be gained in hospitality properties through implementing environmental and social initiatives; many with little or no capital. In addition to cost benefits, there are also benefits in choosing an environmentally sustainable strategy.

These include:

  • Gaining competitive advantage by being a leader in the industry 
  • Customer loyalty 
  • Employee retention 
  • Awards and recognition 
  • Regulatory compliance 
  • Risk management 
  • Increased brand value

But the major benefit, because it’s the right thing to do!

Here are some examples of renewable power being used by the travel industry to lower operating costs and support a sustainable future.

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Solar Energy

The solar energy industry is set to grow by more than $65 billion.

Today, three-quarters of solar installations are less than a couple of years old and hospitality properties of all sizes are quickly taking to this technology. Although solar power installations can take as long as a decade to pay for themselves, they can cut energy bills by 60 per cent. For this reason, more properties are choosing this option.

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Wind Energy

The terms “wind energy” or “wind power” describe the process by which the wind is used to generate mechanical power or electricity. Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy in the wind into mechanical power. Based on the size of a property wind energy can cover half the electricity bill each month.

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Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy is thermal energy generated and stored in the Earth. The geothermal gradient, which is the difference in temperature between the core of the planet and its surface, drives a continuous conduction of thermal energy in the form of heat from the core to the surface.

With many countries around the world ready to embrace geothermal energy, it is ready to double in size.

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Biodiesel

Biodiesel refers to a vegetable oil- or animal fat-based diesel fuel and is quickly becoming more popular. The U.S. economy reaped more than $4 billion from it in the past year. There is a property in Sweden that turns its organic waste into biodiesel at a nearby plant.

The biodiesel that results from this and similar projects in Sweden are powering the nation’s vehicles.

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Reuse

Waste management is a significant issue at hospitality properties, which are increasingly running programs to reuse linens and towels. Guests can choose to dry their towels and keep the same bed linens rather than getting new ones each day. To deal with waste from gardens and kitchens, some properties send waste to biogas plants.

Without an environmental program in place, a hospitality property can be very wasteful and consume a huge amount of resources but don’t panic, hotel, resorts, inns and bed and breakfasts can increase their credibility by having an environmental policy review and environmental policy statement in place.

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There are many green practices that hospitality properties can apply as preventative measures to save unnecessary costs.

Examples of these practices include:

  • Recycling
  • Use of compact fluorescent lights – saves energy.
  • Reuse of linens – saves water, detergent, energy and greenhouse gases.
  • Low-flow shower systems – saves water and energy.
  • Using local products – save transportation costs.
  • Installation of green roofs – saves energy.
  • Installation of solar heaters or another renewable energy source – saves energy.

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Reports by hundreds of businesses around the world show that by applying appropriate management processes they have:

  • Reduced energy and water consumption costs by more than 20 per cent.
  • Solid waste and wastewater disposal cost by more than 15 per cent.
  • Improved the quality of the environment in which they operate.
  • Improved staff motivation and community relations

It is evident that there are a number of benefits to going green.

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The big question now is, how to get a program started? And I will tell you.

There are eight key components to establishing a program to effectively green your hospitality property:

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  1. Identify a green coordinator/champion.

In order for any environmental program to be successful, the first step is appointing someone in your organization to be being responsible for the program, probably senior management.

In addition to the green coordinator, the hospitality property must also have an environmental manager to assist in carrying out the program.

The environmental manager would primarily be responsible for:

  • Organizing a Green Team
  • Coordinating environmental audits for water, waste, energy, carbon emissions and purchasing
  • Monitoring of performance against established goals

The environmental manager is crucial to the success of the program as they will assume the role of a program manager, information gatherer, communicator, motivator and ambassador to guests.

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  1. Set a standard to focus your efforts and measure future success.

Departmental inspections are essential to determining where you should focus your efforts. To set future goals, it is imperative to have a clear understanding of the hospitality properties current position in terms of resource use by the department. Therefore, it is essential to audit how much energy and water is consumed, as well as how much and what type of waste is generated.

Measurement and goal setting is vital to the success of an environmental program. You must know what you use and produce before you can reduce it.

Departments that need to be inspected are:

  • Engineering
  • Laundry
  • General management
  • Grounds and recreation
  • Housekeeping
  • Purchasing
  • Kitchen and food and beverage outlets
  • Front desk

It is important to ensure that the measurements are tracked against the determined goals on a regular basis by each department and there is a central tracking system which merges all the data for analysis.

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  1. Engage your staff.

Without the support of the employees, an environmental program will rarely work. It is important to involve and consult with employees before starting and during the development and implementation phase of an environmental program.

Employees also have a better understanding of the areas where savings can occur and of small improvements that have the potential to make a big difference.

With advice from your employees, you will get a better understanding of both the environmental issues within your property and of your employee’s concerns, interest and passions.

Consulting your employees is a great starting point for any environmental program and gives employees a sense of empowerment and ownership. It will make them proud to work at your property.

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  1. Setting an action plan

In order to achieve results, goals should be set on an annual basis. Using the inspections as a baseline, the goals should be attainable and easy to monitor.

In order to get you on track with the action plan:

  • Choose goals in the first year that are easily attainable.
  • Keep track of all the cost-savings measures. It will be easier to justify bigger expenses in energy conservation.

Seeing results should increase senior management support and generate employee enthusiasm.

Are these making sense so far? Let me know in the comment section.

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  1. Electing a green committee or team

Once the support and enthusiasm of the employees are gained and an action plan identified, it is imperative to assemble a team to run the new environmental program in-house.

Establishing an environmental committee or “Green Team” is essential to the success of an environmental program.

Some considerations when selecting a Green Team are:

  • Technical expertise in areas such as operations, engineering and purchasing.
  • A departmental representation such as front desk, food and beverage, housekeeping
  • Keep groups to a manageable size to ensure easier decision-making.
  • Involve marketing and sales as they may have useful external intelligence about consumers and competitors.
  • Choosing members with good communication skills is important and the people you select should be comfortable dealing with senior management and employees alike.

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Members of the Green Team should exhibit qualities such as:

  • Good communication skills – This is important and the people you select should be comfortable dealing with senior management and employees alike.
  • Have an interest in environmental matters
  • Be enthusiastic, motivated and passionate.
  • Able to commit a certain amount of time.

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  1. Write an environmental policy statement

An environmental policy statement should be written to communicate both internally and externally.

A well-written policy statement needs to express the following:

  • Environmental goals that the facility will undertake (for example, committing to reduce 20% of waste by X year).
  • The way in which the organization aims to treat the people it employs
  • The way in which it aims to integrate into the community and co-operate on any significant local issues that impact the business.

Policy statements should be communicated where possible:

  • Operations manual
  • On the website
  • In guest information packs

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  1. Incorporating your environmental program into employee training

In order for an environmental program to be successful, the goals and objectives should be included in employee training.

Employees should be made aware of the policies and initiatives, as well as the goals and objectives of the environmental program. This information should be included in training documentation, in orientation packages for new employees, as well as other staff training methods, with the aim to integrate these policies into the organization. Posters, general staff emails and other less formal means are also a great way to make employees aware of the environmental program initiatives.

Staff members need to understand their responsibilities and hospitality property goals.

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  1. Set goals and offer regular progress reports

Benchmarking progress on a regular basis is vital in achieving the goal of being a responsible hospitality property.

The progress of how the goals are being achieved and new goals should also be communicated.

 

Conclusion

It is not as hard as you might have thought to start making your hospitality property greener.

Start with the three key areas of environmental impact; energy, water, and waste.

Follow the eight key components to establishing a program to effectively green your hospitality property:

Focus on the benefits to your property.

Do you currently use or plan on adopting any of the suggestions presented in this episode. Let me know in the comment section.

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⇒ TO READ OR LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE ON KEYSTONE HOSPITALITY PROPERTY CONSULTING:

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