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Highlights from the 10 Sections of the Fourth Green Lodging Trends Report

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SINGAPORE—In an article published earlier this week on Green Lodging News, the introduction to Greenview’s just released 83-page Green Lodging Trends Report (GLTR) was summarized. In this article, Green Lodging News takes a deeper dive into the report, highlighting key results from this fourth GLTR.

The GLTR is separated into 10 sections, with findings highlighted primarily in easy-to-read bullet-point format. The sections include Hotel Sustainability Basics, Management System, Community Impact, Health & Wellness, Responsible Consumption, Single-Use Plastic Elimination, Waste Management, Water Conservation, Energy Management, and Climate Action.

The following are observations from each of the 10 sections, followed by highlights from each section.

Hotel Sustainability Basics—GLTR incorporates 12 fundamental sustainability practices from the Hotel Sustainability Basics Framework. These practices, identified under the leadership of the World Travel & Tourism Council, are endorsed by hospitality companies around the world. GLTR includes 75 best practices, 17 of which align with the Basics Framework. Within each section of the report, practices may fall under topic areas such as Common Practices, Establishes Practices, Emerging Practices, and Innovative Practices.

Highlights from this section of the report:

  • Close to 80 percent of hotels offer guests opportunities to support or participate in its environmental and social initiatives.
  • Globally, 66 percent of hotels have eliminated the use of plastic straws.
  • Almost one in two hotels have replaced mini plastic toiletry bottles with bulk dispensers or non-plastic alternatives.
  • A total of 40.7 percent of all hotels have replaced plastic water bottles offered to guests and staff with sustainable alternatives such as reuse models, reusable options or non-plastic alternatives.

Management System—Effective sustainability management places significance on a sustainability program to implement an effective management system that drives continuous improvement across all aspects of sustainability. Key driving factors of an effective management system include having dedicated staff for sustainability, routine sustainability meetings, empowerment of staff with trainings and resources, and processes to incorporate staff and guest feedback for improving sustainability.

Highlights from this section of the report:

  • One in two hotels has a sustainability champion. Extended stays top all hotel types in having a sustainability champion—nearly 90 percent have sustainability champions.
  • Almost 60 percent of all hotels have a dedicated sustainability budget.
  • Around one in five of all hotels are third-party certified for sustainability.
  • On average, less than one-fifth of hotels have a sustainability team but there is a large variation across the various hotel types.
  • Nearly one-third of all hotels meet to discuss sustainability at least once every month.
  • Nearly half of all hotels conduct sustainability-related staff trainings. Such trainings have become a norm at full-service hotels (80.2 percent), while a good proportion of limited-service hotels also conduct these trainings (36.4 percent).
    Staff feedback for sustainability is valued and nearly all hotels (91.5 percent) have a process to gather such feedback. Limited-service hotels (95.7 percent) outperform full-service hotels (86.4 percent).
  • Prevalence of hotel sustainability certifications rises across the STR chain scale segments, from economy (5.2 percent) to luxury (46.1 percent).

Community Impact—“Strengthening the wellbeing of communities where the hotels operate is a fundamental part of being a responsible business,” the report says. Ways to do that range from hiring locals to planting green roofs.

Highlights from this section of the report:

  • A total of 14.4 percent of all hotels have greenery on their roofs.
  • Nearly all hotels (98.7 percent) take action to ensure that wildlife interactions (if applicable) take place in line with established codes of practice.
  • It is most common for locals to make up 90 percent or more of hotel staff, except for economy hotels, where locals tend to make up less than half of the staff.
  • Virtually all hotels (97.9 percent) implement at least one initiative that contributes to reducing inequalities.
  • Close to 80 percent of hotels offer guests opportunities to support or participate in its environmental and social initiatives.
  • A total of 41.6 percent of all hotels offer tours and activities organized by local guides and businesses.
  • More than one in two hotels provides information and interpretation about the natural and cultural heritage of the local area, as well as appropriate tourist behavior.

Health & Wellness—According to the report, “During the Covid pandemic, hotels stepped up their efforts toward health and safety, putting in place a variety of measures that meet or exceed regulatory requirements.” Health & Wellness, however, spans a great deal more areas than those prompted by Covid.

Highlights from this section of the report:

  • Almost three-quarters of all hotels have an air purification system or offer portable air purifiers.
  • A total of 85.1 percent of all hotels use environmentally friendly pest control.
  • A total of 62.6 percent of all hotels use green cleaning products.
  • Virtually all hotels use low- or zero-VOC paints (97.1 percent).

Responsible Consumption—“By increasing resource use efficiency and procuring with sustainability in mind, hotels can minimize their impact on the planet,” the report says. There are many ways to reduce consumption at the hotel or through supply chain choices.

Highlights from this section of the report:

  • Virtually all limited-service hotels (98.8 percent) have a linen reuse program, and this surpasses the uptake rate across full-service hotels (86.3 percent). Although an established practice across most hotels, a quarter of convention hotels and luxury hotels still do not have such a program.
  • A total of 16.7 percent of all hotels offer vegan menu options for every course and meal.
  • Across the options provided, cage-free eggs were the top sourced responsible product. This is followed by gestation crate-free pork, certified sustainable palm oil products, deforestation-free beef, and humane foie gras.
  • Full-service hotels are nearly twice as likely (36 percent) as limited-service hotels (18.5 percent) to make at least half of their food and beverage purchases from local providers.
  • At least 60 percent of hotels (63.2 percent) purchase at least half of their food and beverage items from fair trade sources (by spend).
  • A total of 26.7 percent of hotels purchase at least half of their seafood from certified sustainable sources (by spend).

Single-Use Plastic Elimination—Plastic waste has been a huge topic worldwide in recent years and deservedly so. No other company but Greenview has taken such a close look at plastic waste in hotels. Unfortunately, it is an emerging practice and not an established practice for hotels to replace water bottles for both guests and staff with reuse models, reusable options, or other non-plastic alternatives.

Highlights from this section of the report:

  • One in two hotels has eliminated the use of plastic stirrers.
  • Over 60 percent of full-service hotels have implemented water refill stations in public areas. This is more than six times higher than limited-service hotels (10.8 percent).
  • Hotels replacing mini plastic toiletry bottles with bulk dispensers or non-plastic alternatives is an established practice for most property types, but an innovative practice for convention hotels.
  • One-fifth of all hotels that use bioplastic products send them for composting at their end-of-life.

Waste Management—“To manage waste effectively, hotels should begin with a plan, then track waste data and implement measures to reduce and divert waste from landfill,” the GLTR report says. “Data shows that it is more common for hotels to implement waste measures than have a waste management plan. As for tracking waste data, which can be challenging, one in two hotels already tracks food waste and one in five hotels track all waste.”

Highlights from this section of the report:

  • Virtually all hotels (99.5 percent) have implemented waste management measures in the past three years.
  • Nearly one in two hotels place recycling bins in all common areas.
  • Almost 30 percent of all hotels place recycling bins in guestrooms.
  • Almost a quarter of all hotels donate their excess food to community kitchens and programs.
  • Nearly one in five hotels donate leftover bathroom amenities such as soap bars, shampoos and shower gels.
  • A total of 15.6 percent of all hotels have agreements with vendors for take-back recycling programs.
  • A total of 85.2 percent of all hotels implemented food waste prevention strategies in the last year.
  • The most popular disposal route for food waste is via conversion to animal feed, which is done by 72.8 percent of hotels.

Water Conservation—Droughts around the world, including the western U.S., have emphasized the need for water conservation. Interestingly, according to the GLTR, “Although virtually all hotels have implemented water efficiency measures in the past three years, only half plan and implement water-saving initiatives. This could suggest that hotels are prioritizing the implementation of select measures rather than addressing water management more holistically.”

Highlights from this section of the report:

  • Over 60 percent of all hotels track water consumption, most of whom do so on at least a quarterly basis.
  • The top three water efficiency measures implemented are high efficiency or dry fixtures (87.3 percent), storm/ gray water reuse for non-potable applications (30.1 percent) and cooling tower water management (11.1 percent).
  • At least one in three hotels installs water sub-meters.
    Across all hotels, 39.4 percent install low-flow toilets, 35.9 percent install high-efficiency showerheads and 28.8 percent install high-efficiency faucets (for at least 90 percent of the property).
  • Nearly 80 percent of all hotels use native or drought-tolerant plants for landscaping to reduce irrigation needs.

Energy Management—“Hotels operate 24/7 and consume more energy than a comparable commercial building,” the GLTR says. “Saving energy makes financial sense and has a direct impact on carbon emissions, so it is no surprise that hotels commonly plan and implement energy reduction measures.”

Highlights from this section of the report:

  • Over 80 percent of all hotels plan and implement energy reduction initiatives.
  • The top three energy efficiency measures implemented are smart grid and smart building technologies (52.1 percent), high-efficiency equipment and appliances (35.9 percent) and automation system upgrades (8.9 percent).
  • The top countries for this practice are Switzerland (100 percent), Spain (99 percent), and Greece (97 percent).
  • Over 60 percent of all hotels track energy consumption, most of whom do so on at least a quarterly basis.
  • Over 90 percent of all hotels benchmark their energy performance against peers within the company portfolio, where applicable.
  • Nearly 70 percent of all hotels implement preventive maintenance plans for building energy and water fixtures.
  • At least one in ten hotels uses sub-meters to track energy consumption across various areas of the property.
  • Almost half of all hotels use energy-efficient LED lighting for at least 90 percent of interior lighting needs.
  • A total of 43.4 percent of hotels have at least half of all windows with enhanced reflective and/or insulating characteristics to reduce heating and cooling requirements.

Climate Action—“According to the Global Hotel Decarbonization Report, to stay within the 2-degree threshold set by the Paris Agreement, the hotel industry will need to cut carbon emissions by 66 percent by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050 (from a 2010 baseline),” the GLTR report says.

Highlights from this section of the report:

  • Over 60 percent of all hotels plan and implement carbon reduction initiatives.
  • Over 40 percent of all hotels measure carbon emissions, and most measure at least on a quarterly basis.
  • Less than a quarter of all hotels generate renewable energy onsite.
  • Globally, 13.0 percent of hotels purchase all or part of their electricity from renewable sources.
  • Over 95 percent of all hotels have initiatives to encourage the adoption of sustainable transportation by staff and guests.
  • Nearly 30 percent of all hotels install electric vehicle charging stations on their property. This prevalence increases to one in two hotels for full-service hotels and falls to one in five hotels for limited-service hotels.

U.S. Behind Much of the World?

Throughout the report, Greenview provides country rankings for a particular initiative—having a sustainability team on the property, for example. In this case, the Netherlands tops the list at 90 percent. Interestingly, throughout the report there are 19 rankings, but the U.S. only landed on four of the ranking lists.

Glenn Hasek can be reached at greenlodgingnews@gmail.com.

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