Vol. 5 2013 Green Hospitality 2.0
With the amount of people that hotels serve, and the number of guestrooms they have, there are plenty of opportunities to contribute to sustainability. In order to run a successful business, it is important for hotel owners to be knowledgeable about green design and be cognizant of the internet’s ability to affect the reputation of a hotel.
Social Media and Travel Websites
With the popularity of travel critique websites, customers have the ability to read hotel reviews and search by specific criteria, such as “green” or “sustainable.” It is now effortless to find the “perfect hotel” online, and to know which hotels to avoid. Price is not the only consideration when choosing a hotel – sustainability is another consideration that many travellers are looking into.
Many of today’s travellers are willing to pay the extra dollar in order to stay in a sustainable hotel. According to a study done by Expedia and MindClick SGM, hotel sustainability is being factored into hotel purchase consideration.[i] Within the survey, it was discovered that “four in ten consumers list indoor air quality as highly important in their selection criteria. Hotels that promote higher indoor air quality earn higher favourability ratings among almost two-thirds of consumers surveyed.” [ii] Even though people do favour air quality, only one-third of those surveyed recalled hotel ads and promotions focusing on a hotel’s air quality.[iii]
The internet is a remarkable avenue for people to express their opinions (within reason). Hotel owners are able to gain valuable information, make changes and the right choices based on what customers like and dislike.
Case Study: The City Hotel Water Conservation Challenge, NYC
New York City is a bustling, vibrant city, with over 8 million residents and 52 million tourists recorded in 2012[iv]. For such a populated city, the need for water conservation is an important topic, and one that New York City takes seriously. One of the newest water programs being implemented in NYC is Water for the Future. Eleven New York City hotels will be participating in The City Hotel Water Conservation Challenge, which is part of NYC’s Water for the Future program. Its aim is to reduce water use by five percent, thus saving a total of approximately 13 million gallons of water each year[v]. Each hotel participating has the potential to save between $10,000 and $70,000 on their annual water and sewer bills based on current rates.[vi]
NYC’s commercial buildings provide a huge opportunity to contribute to sustainability due to their magnitude and the number of washrooms and kitchen fixtures they have. Hotels are huge culprits of water demand, however, with programs such as Water for the Future, hotel owners can help reduce their energy and water bills, as well as help protect our planet.[vii]
How does The City Hotel Water Conservation Challenge work?[viii]
- The eleven hotels participating in this challenge are equipped with water meters and automated meter reading devices. Water consumption is tracked near real time.
- The hotels will use 12 months of water consumption data. This will provide a baseline profile and track progress in water consumption.
- NYC will develop a tool kit to help hotels meet their targets. A few elements of this tool kit include:
- Training housekeeping staff on finding and reporting leaks.
- Having maintenance staff fix the leaks quickly.
- Developing literature for visitors about the conservation challenge and how they can help.
Reducing Water Consumption in Hotels
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, 15% of the total water use in commercial and institutional facilities comes from hotels and other lodging businesses. Not surprisingly, 30% of a hotel’s water use comes from guestrooms, with the second highest being from landscaping and laundry at 16%. Pools are at the lowest end with 1% of a hotel’s total water use.[ix]
When at all possible, the use of dry cleaning a floor with a broom first is always preferred in order to reduce water consumption. When cleaning with water is required, hotels should set standards for chemical and water volume levels.[x]
Hotel kitchens are a major source of water consumption, and there are many ways which water can be reduced without jeopardizing food’s cleanliness and the surfaces in which food is prepared on. Below are some ways in which hotel kitchens can benefit from sustainability:[xi]
- Prevent stuck on food on surfaces before they even happen, but if spills do happen, quickly wipe them up before they harden. If food becomes stuck on a plate, tool or utensil, instead of washing it under running water, soak it in a water bath to loosen up the debris.
- Install a stainless steel kitchen drain, as stainless steel can easily be sterilized and is very durable.
- Dishwashers use up a lot of water, but hotels can save money and water by ensuring dishwashers are fully loaded, and set to the economy cycle. Dishwashers should also be well maintained – check for leaks and lime deposits, and ensure spray jets and filters are clean.
- Boiling food like pasta and vegetables consumes a lot of water, especially when done in bulk. While you cannot eliminate water for preparing these types of food, finding the optimal water per food ratio can save from wasted water.
- Training staff to report water leaks as soon as they see one, and having it fixed quickly.
- Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator instead of under running water.
- Purchase air cooled ice machines, not water cooled ice machines.
Bathroom Suites and Lobby Restrooms
|Sloan Wall Hung Toilet ST-2060/2063 series||Gerber Maxwell Dual-Flush Round Front 2 pc 1.1/1.6gpf DF-21-100|
The idea of low flow toilets, faucets, and showerheads seem like a perfect opportunity for hotels to become sustainable. However, what many hotel owners do not realize are the concerns over “low flow” and the implications it can have to their business and industry as a whole, as well as the ever-lasting impression it will have on guests and critique website readers.
Fixture performance is as important as conservation.[xii] Today, sustainable hotels are able to attract the attention of their guests by their green design, however, if a hotel’s green design is poorly thought-out and the faucets and fixtures are made with poor quality materials, then business will vanish. With the explosion of social media, and the growth of travel critique websites, a hotel will never be able to hide from these types of issues.
Water conservation can receive a lot of positive press, and there are many factors that can be overlooked.[xiii] The following are important questions that green hotel owners should answer: [xiv]
- Do guests staying at a hotel shower twice as long in order to feel clean because of the decreased flow and volume of water?
- Do guests flush a toilet more than once since the first flush did not eliminate all waste in the toilet bowl?
- Due to low flow water, do cleaning staff work twice as long in a guestroom?
- Is there enough water pressure to move along waste without creating a pipe blockage?
It is important to ensure that all parties involved are knowledgeable about green design and products. Choosing high quality products will ensure that a hotel will live up to its statement as being green.
Across North America, the use of stainless steel appliances, drains, surfaces, and tubs are frequently used due to their remarkable features, such as being a non toxic metal. Other qualities include: [xvi]
- Easily sterilizes and easier to clean, reducing water usage.
- Low maintenance in terms of cleaning time – does not contain a porous surface or cracks.
- 100% recyclable.
- Durable – does not need to be replaced.
- Corrosion and fire resistant.
Case Study: Omni Dallas Hotel
Omni Dallas Hotel, a LEED Gold Certified hotel located in Dallas Texas, has gone above and beyond when it comes to sustainability. From energy conservation to water conservation, this hotel has undeniably gone the extra mile.
The glass chosen at the Omni Dallas Hotel has a high light to solar gain.[xvii] According to 5G Studio, a dark blue glass was chosen because of its high visible transmittance, with a visible light reflectance of 6% and 7% total energy reflectance.[xviii] This means that you can receive natural outdoor lightwithout the heat and rays of the sun, thus contributing to energy conservation. [xix]
Another method of energy conservation that the builders of the Omni Dallas Hotel have included in their design is reduced reflective surfaces that reduce interior heat, which are beneficial for neighbouring sites and buildings.[xx]
Key card activated light and HVAC switches are given to guests in order to reduce energy demand. When guests enter their guestroom, they must insert their card to turn the electricity on, and when they leave they must remove their card, which turns off all lights and the HVAC system. This eliminates wasted energy when guests are not in their room.[xxi]
In addition, the hotel has implemented low flow faucets, fixtures, and showerheads. These low flow fixtures reduce cost by 30%, as compared to standard plumbing fixtures.[xxii]
|DID YOU KNOW? Saving money is not the only reason hospitality facilities choose to go green. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, other reasons include: [xxiii]
For hotels, contributing to sustainability is not a fad that will come and go; sustainability is here to stay. Green hotels are now necessary to stay ahead of the competition, to portray a positive social acceptance, and to be financially successful.