LONDON—ITP (International Tourism Partnership) announced a major step forward in the hotel industry’s stewardship of water, with the launch of the Hotel Water Measurement Initiative (HWMI). Eighteen global hotel groups including Accor, Carlson Rezidor, Diamond Resorts, Fairmont Raffles Hotels International, Hilton Worldwide, the Hongkong & Shanghai Hotels, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, InterContinental Hotels Group, Las Vegas Sands Corp., Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Marriott International, MGM Hotels & Resorts, NH Hotel Group, Soneva, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Taj Hotels, Resorts & Palaces, Whitbread, and Wyndham Worldwide Resorts have worked together to create the industry’s first jointly developed and consistent water measurement tool.
HWMI is the result of 18 months’ work to develop a free methodology and calculation tool which will enable hotel companies and individual properties to measure and report on water consumption in a consistent way. ITP member companies have collaborated to develop the methodology, working with KPMG as technical consultants and with feedback from a stakeholder steering group of global experts, including the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), Water Footprint Network, CDP and CEO Water Mandate.
Fran Hughes, Director of ITP said, “The hotel industry identified water as an issue it urgently wanted to address, and whilst many hotels are already measuring their water consumption, the use of different methods makes it impossible to benchmark. By bringing these leading companies together we have created a free tool which will ensure all hotels can measure their water use in exactly the same way.”
Companies Have Had Own Measurement Practices
Measuring water consumption is a common activity in hotels but each group has a different way to measure and may include or exclude different sources or uses of water. Building on ITP’s earlier success with the universally recognized tool for measuring the carbon footprint of a hotel room, stay or meeting—HCMI (Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative)—now used by over 24,000 hotels globally, HWMI will allow any hotel anywhere in the world to measure and report on the water footprint of a hotel stay or meeting/event in exactly the same way.
HWMI is the industry’s response to leading stakeholder concerns that one of the most pressing global issues hotels need to address is their consumption of water, and the understanding that “what gets measured gets managed”. Consistent measurement is the first step necessary to enable hotels to report and benchmark—and ultimately reduce—water consumption. The methodology and tool are free to download and use by any hotel no matter its size, type or location. ITP is keen to encourage all hotels to adopt the methodology.
The success of HCMI which paved the way for carbon reporting in the Cornell Hotel Sustainability Benchmarking study showed that consistent measuring across the sector is a crucial first step before hotels can benchmark their performance against similar hotels in similar climates. Understanding a hotel’s operation in comparison with others tends to drive improvements at a faster rate, which is vital if the industry as a whole is to drive its position as a responsible sector.
‘Free and Easy to Implement’
Inge Huijbrechts, Vice President Responsible Business at Carlson Rezidor, said, “HWMI is a big and important step for the industry, it is free and easy to implement, and will help us achieve a shared baseline for our hotels around the world. Water scarcity is a pressing global issue which we are trying to address with water stewardship actions. HWMI will allow us to measure our water use in the same way as other hotel companies and will generate common awareness about the water footprint in tourism and travel.”
Paul Snyder, Vice President, Corporate Responsibility, IHG said, “As a member of ITP, IHG was pleased to play a leading role in the development of HWMI and to ensure it aligns with our IHG Green Engage System. Water stewardship is a key environmental issue for IHG and for our industry, and HWMI will allow us to measure water use across the industry with a standardized approach. As more and more customers demand this level of transparency, this methodology gives a level playing field for the whole industry and it’s a challenge we’re excited to take on.”
HWMI is launching during SIWI World Water Week. The launch event on August 30 is hosted by the UN CEO Water Mandate, a global voluntary initiative of companies working on Water Stewardship.
‘An Important First Step’
Jason Morrison, Head, UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate said: “HWMI represents a significant collaborative effort among companies that are normally competitors. ITP and its members have demonstrated leadership by consulting the opinions of industry stakeholders regarding the water-related issues hotels should be addressing. They’ve taken an important first step in developing a consistent approach to hotel water-use measurement, which can lead to sector benchmarking and start hotels on their water stewardship journey.”
In 2013 ITP commissioned and released a report from SIWI on global water risk for hotels which identified that hotels in key growth regions, Brazil, India, China and the Middle East, are particularly at risk from water scarcity and poor quality water. Research from McKinsey has shown that global demand for water is likely to exceed supply by 40 percent by 2030. As big water consumers, hotels have a responsibility to act to both reduce their water footprint and help preserve the quality of water returning to the supply system. In addition, research has shown that hotel guests around the world may use 10 times or more the amount of water used on average daily by local people. ITP member hotel groups are committed to doing all they can to have a net positive impact on the communities in which they’re located, and that includes cutting their water use.
Hoteliers who wish to benefit from the free tool and begin measuring their water consumption in the standardized manner agreed by the industry can download it here: http://tourismpartnership.org/water-stewardship/.
To underpin the launch of the HWMI tool, ITP’s digital magazine Green Hotelier is hosting a #WorldWaterWeek Twitter chat where companies and water stakeholders can discuss the role of responsible business in reducing water consumption and pollution, as well as sharing their water insights and actions. Follow @Green_Hotelier, @ITP_News and @BITCenvironment to take part on September 1, 2016 at 1.30 p.m. (BST).
There are two free webinars on September 8 for hoteliers keen to know more about HWMI and how to use it. There are more details here: http://www.greenhotelier.org/our-themes/water/free-webinars-show-how-to-use-industrys-first-standard-water-measurement-tool/