NEW YORK—Highgate released its environmental, social and governance (ESG) report which includes a comprehensive analysis of its successful sustainability performance to-date as well as its strategies for reducing the environmental impact of its hotels. It is believed to be among the first reports of its kind by a major hotel management company.
Highgate has company goals to expand on numerous initiatives highlighted in the report, including increasing its number of carbon neutral hotels, onsite solar systems, biodiversity projects, third-party eco-certified hotels, and electric vehicle (EV) charging station installations. Tracking and reporting carbon, energy, water, and waste performance data is another critical program component to monitor and share progress. Comparing 2021 to 2019, Highgate reduced its total GHG emissions by 21.8 percent and has cut energy use by more than 170,000 megawatt hours (MWh).
“We all share an urgent responsibility to reduce our impact on climate change, and this is especially true for the hospitality industry,” said Highgate CEO Arash Azarbarzin. “Highgate is very proud to be a leader on this front by presenting this analysis that can serve as a roadmap to help drive hospitality management toward a net-zero future without compromising the guest experience.”
‘Visibility Into Our Full Carbon Footprint’
“With this report, we endeavored to exhibit our most successful initiatives and to provide visibility into our full carbon footprint, including initial emissions calculations for our entire supply chain. We will use these data to establish achievable goals and measure our progress,” said Marianne Balfe, Vice President of Sustainability of Highgate.
As an example of the ambitious environmental standards and objectives that Highgate is pursuing, the report highlights how the Alohilani Resort became the first hotel in Hawaii to commit to PAS 2060 carbon neutrality certification. As part of this initiative, the hotel partnered with the Hawaii Legacy Reforestation Initiative to reforest more than 1,200 acres of trees, which is the first carbon removal project in the United States to achieve Gold Standard certification.
As a member of the Clean Energy Buyers Association (CEBA), Highgate became the first hospitality company to sign CEBA’s Commercial Real Estate Principles, which supports the decarbonization of commercial buildings through energy optimization and renewable energy procurement. In 2021, Highgate made a large-scale investment in Green-e certified renewable energy certificates (RECs) that allowed more than 200 hotels in its portfolio to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy. Highgate is also evaluating onsite renewable energy feasibility and is conducting a comprehensive analysis of onsite solar and battery storage opportunities across its entire portfolio.
Environmental Brand Standards
Highgate is also increasing the utilization of energy efficient technologies at its hotels, while also increasing the use of renewable energy. As part of its Environmental Brand Standards, Highgate requires hotels to install smart guestroom thermostats, 100 percent LED lighting, and intelligent kitchen hood fans for properties with large kitchens. As of 2021, approximately 65 percent of its properties already use high-efficiency lighting.
Other areas of focus in Highgate’s sustainability program include improving water management, preventing food waste, reducing landfill waste, and bolstering recycling, single-use plastics elimination, responsible sourcing, supporting biodiversity projects, and implementing green construction and design practices.
“We are deeply focused on sustainable design and construction practices, partners and opportunities,” said Paul McElroy, Executive Vice President of Design and Construction. “We are actively seeking the right partnerships that will not only help us hold ourselves accountable to minimize our carbon footprint but can also inspire a ‘more conscious’ ripple effect across the larger design and construction community.”
The full report can be found here.