Lodging Industry’s New Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative Addressed at IHMRS in New York City

11/13/2012 By Glenn Hasek

NEW YORK—At this past weekend’s International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show, carbon measurement was a hot topic as part of the Hospitality Leadership Forum. In “Reporting Your Hotel Carbon Metrics, Responding to Green RFPs,” the moderator and panelists summarized the progress of the lodging industry’s joint effort to develop standard metrics for hospitality carbon reporting. The session at the Javits Center was moderated by Pat Maher, green consultant, American Hotel & Lodging Assn. and partner, The Maher Group. The panelists included: George Favaloro, managing director, PwC; Eric Ricaurte, principal, Greenview; Maury Zimring, director, corporate responsibility & sustainability, InterContinental Hotels Group; and Faith Taylor, senior vice president, sustainability & innovation, Wyndham Worldwide.

Earlier this year in June, the International Tourism Partnership (ITP) and the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), in collaboration with 23 leading global hospitality companies, launched a methodology to calculate and communicate the carbon footprint of hotel stays and meetings in a consistent and transparent way.

The Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative (HCMI) Working Group, comprised of hotel members within ITP and WTTC, was formed in early 2011 at the request of member companies to devise a unified methodology based on available data to address inconsistencies in hotel companies’ approaches. The methodology, named “HCMI 1.0,” provides hotels with a carbon footprint per occupied room on a daily basis and per area of meeting space on an hourly basis. This information can then be used to calculate the carbon footprint of a specific client’s use of the hotel.

Most Fortune 500 Companies Paying Attention

During the session last weekend, George Favaloro, managing director, PwC, helped frame the discussion about the importance of carbon reporting. Eighty percent of Fortune 500 companies participate in the Carbon Disclosure Project, Favaloro said. The Project is an independent not-for-profit organization working to drive greenhouse gas emissions reduction and sustainable water use by business and cities. In 2008, just 72 of the Fortune 500 companies reported business travel emissions. This year that number is 203.

It is those sustainability-focused Fortune 500 type companies with whom hotel companies need to be aligned. “Companies want to do business with companies that have the same mentality,” Favaloro said. “It is your biggest and most sophisticated customers who care about this.”

Eric Ricaurte, principal, Greenview, explained some of the rationale behind the drive to come up with common carbon reporting metrics. Too many companies were using their own metrics, he said, and third parties were helping to muddy the reporting waters even more. Three issues were resolved with the June release of HCMI 1.0, Ricaurte said: apportionment (rooms/meetings by square footage); metrics (per occupied room) and for meeting space (by meeting hour); and the data set used (recent 12 months). Ricaurte said those interested in learning more about the methodology used to determine the carbon footprint of a guest stay or meeting should go to: tinyurl.com/hotelcarbon.

Already Part of Green Engage

Maury Zimring, director, corporate responsibility & sustainability, InterContinental Hotels Group, said that HCMI 1.0 will be built into her company’s internal online Green Engage sustainability system. More than 2,000 hotel properties now participate in Green Engage.

In her presentation, Faith Taylor, senior vice president, sustainability & innovation, Wyndham Worldwide, said 24 states now have greenhouse gas reduction targets and 1,054 mayors have signed the Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement—further proof that carbon reporting is being taken seriously not only by big companies but also government as well.

In regard to HCMI 1.0, Taylor said, “This path we are on is the first of many steps.”

For additional information on HCMI 1.0, click here, here, and here.

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