The hotel industry has long been associated with excessive waste: using powerful chemicals for cleaning and wasting energy for maintenance rather than being environmentally friendly. Moreover and as result of tourism industry growth, the demand for resources from the hospitality sector has exponentially increased. However, the new popularity of Eco Tourism has encouraged hotels to adopt new green practices that allow them to reduce their negative impact on the environment. Thanks to sustainable solutions, hotels going green are making steps toward efficient use of energy, water and materials while saving money and still providing quality services. So, what are the sustainable solutions green lodging has adopted to meet new eco tourism expectations?
Here are the top 3 green initiatives taken by some hotels chains that aim to harmonize tourism and environmental sustainability:
Low Water Consumption:
Water use is an important cost for hotels. In many developing countries hotel water use may impact the water supplies of the local people. Water-efficient practices can through technologies and proper systems can deliver equal or better service while saving water. Numerous hotels have identified where water use was excessive and have developed sustainable solutions to reduce their water consumption and have obtained economic benefits:
- For water conservation, low-flow shower heads, faucet aerators, and automatic flushing toilets conserve water
- Another target for hotels is reducing water consumption in washing machines. Linen reuse programs are a great option for water assessment: It’s hard to imagine the number of towels and sheets which have been used only once and that have to be washed every day in all the hotels in the world, whereas when guests are at home, few wash their towels after one use or change their sheets every day. A simple recycled linen card inviting guests to make a greener choice by reusing towels and sheets can save gallons of water, detergents and cleansers.
Cooling, lighting, water heating/cooking/refrigeration and ventilation account for 85% of total electric usage in hotels and motels. Reducing electricity consumption in theses equipment areas represents considerable energy and cost savings. There are many options for conserving energy: from good insulation to something as simple as changing thermostat settings can help reduce or eliminate the need for costly heating and cooling.
For example, the Hyatt Regency International Hotel in New Zealand understood that guests often left devices and heating and cooling systems on while they were out of their rooms. The hotel developed a project to link energy use with room occupancy. Thus, as soon as a guest leaves his or her room, all energy appliances shut down (with some exception such as refrigerators, alarm clocks…) But, if your hotel doesn’t provide this type of system, turn off lights and electronic devices when you leave your room, as you would have done at home.
Solid Waste Disposal:
Solid waste in lodging include paper, food, plastic and various other components. Implementing a solid waste reduction program in a hotel can create significant cost savings and reduce land pollution. A zero-waste attitude is achieved through purchasing recycled content products, recycling paper, aluminum, and plastics, providing environmental education to employees and most of all donating the excess food to local food banks. Indeed, Food waste is a large portion of the waste produced in lodging facilities. Over-preparation, table scraps, cooking losses, and packaging failures lead to the accumulation of food waste. Fortunately they all can be composted, which is a better use of organic materials than trucking them.
Lighting is the second largest energy expenditure in a hotel and is the easiest area for saving energy and money. According to the Florida Power & Light Company, interior lighting accounts for 19% of electric usage in hotels and exterior lighting accounts for 4%. To reduce energy consumption from lighting, hotel chains such as Ramada and Holiday Inn have replaced standard incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents or other high energy efficient lighting. Compact fluorescents use much less energy than incandescent bulbs and need replacing far less often, making them a cost-effective choice. Similarly, the use of occupancy sensors to detect the presence or absence of people that turn lights on and off accordingly may reduce lighting energy consumption by 50 % or more in some circumstances.
Thus, many hotels have realized a significant decrease in solid waste, energy and water consumption by making these small changes. It is not easy to be green in this sector, but the hotel industry now has a new environmental conscience. For your next work trip or vacation, even if you can’t afford eco resorts, try to choose green lodging that has made a step toward eco tourism.
You will find a list of Green Hotels on the official website of the Green Hotels Association.