Sustainability in Hospitality: A Guide to ‘Going Green’

Despite sustainability being one of the most critical issues facing our world today, many hoteliers still feel sceptical about ‘going green.’ They might worry that sustainability practices are costly to implement and won’t provide a positive return on their investment – or they might perceive that they are hard to put into practice and tricky to measure.

The Middle East region in particular has traditionally been reluctant to embrace sustainability in hospitality, but over the last few years the industry has started to change quite dramatically, with more and more hoteliers waking up to the fact that implementing green measures can be both good for the world around us and simultaneously have a significant positive impact on bottom-line performance.

So, why should you think carefully about sustainability – and what practical steps can be taken?

Why Go Green?

According to recent research by TFG Asset Management, one of the main causes of resistance to sustainability practices is the initial costs involved in the process, such as investing in new environmentally-friendly equipment or gaining approval from relevant authorities.

While it is important to consider these initial costs, it is critical to keep in mind that green practices provide many long-term benefits and can produce a positive return on investment over time. Sustainability in hospitality can significantly lower energy costs and help to minimise the impact of future price rises, while also making the hotel more attractive to guests and increasing positive perceptions of the brand. Sustainable tourism is something that is becoming more and more important to travellers, so this is something that definitely shouldn’t be overlooked!

In short, investing in green initiatives is good for both the environment and the long-term success of the hotel. In order to be successful in a challenging and constantly changing business environment, it is necessary to be forward thinking and anticipate guest requirements – and that means taking sustainability extremely seriously.

Cost-Effective Green Practices

In its recent ‘Go Green’ white paper, TFG Asset Management outlined several key green practices that can be implemented to reduce energy, water consumption and waste production. The company helpfully divided these up into no-cost, low-cost and medium to high-cost strategies, thereby providing hoteliers with a range of options to suit their individual circumstances.

Hoteliers should begin by educating both staff and guests on how they can help to reduce electricity and water consumption. This can be something as simple as informing guests and staff of the importance of turning off lights when they are not required or encourage them to re-use towels. This action requires no cost and can be rolled out quickly and easily, making it an essential first step towards changing consumption behaviours and reducing waste.

Next, improved sustainability in hospitality can be achieved by investing in simple low-cost solutions that reduce energy consumption and minimise waste. This may include installing room automation control systems and motion sensors that automatically turn lights on and off as needed, as well as water conservation devices for faucets and showers. Such solutions can payback the initial cost invested in as little as six to eighteen months, making them worthwhile investments for hotels.

To improve sustainability over the medium to long-term, hoteliers should consider a number of measures that are likely to be repaid within one to three years. This includes refurbishing the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system, installing renewable energy sources, and investing in a Building Management System (BMS). Consideration should also be given to enhancing the insulation of the building and replacing conventional bulbs with more efficient LEDs.

There are many things that can be done to reduce waste and energy consumption – and hotels that successfully embrace green practices will be rewarded greatly over the longer-term. To learn more about sustainability in hospitality, you can download ‘The Hoteliers’ Guide to Going Green in the UAE’ here.

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