Home Publisher's Point of View Some Thoughts on Wyndham’s First Sustainability Report

Some Thoughts on Wyndham’s First Sustainability Report

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With a hotel system consisting of approximately 7,220 properties and 840 hotels in the development pipeline, Wyndham Worldwide packs one heckuva carbon footprint. This year, for the first time, Wyndham released a sustainability report (see related article) summarizing the different ways it is working to measure its environmental impact and the steps it is taking to reduce water and energy consumption as well as waste.

Faith Taylor, vice president of sustainability and innovation at Wyndham Worldwide, told me this past week that the sustainability report took six months to put together. Fortunately, Wyndham has been producing Global Best Practices reports the last couple of years and could borrow from them for the sustainability report.

Significant in the report is Wyndham’s reporting of its 2010 Greenhouse Gas Emissions for its properties over which it has operational control (owned, managed and leased assets). Managers at the properties are required to input utility and waste data in what is called Wyndham Green Toolbox Eco-Software. “It enables people at the facility to see their progress and establish a baseline for improvement,” Taylor says. “They are able to see how they are tracking against a target.” Other companies such as Hilton and InterContinental Hotels Group have similar internal software systems.

Aggressive 2020 Goal

Because it is now accurately measuring its impact, Wyndham will better be able to reach its goal of reducing its emissions by 20 percent by 2020, an ambitious target given the company’s growth plans and number of overall properties.

Whereas Wyndham is currently tracking only the assets over which it has operational control, it has set basic green standards for its franchised properties to help them reduce resource consumption and waste. Energy efficient lighting, towel and linen reuse program, biodegradable key cards, and biodegradable cups are just a few examples Taylor cited. Even just one small positive change over thousands of hotels can have significant impact.

Making sure green progress is continuous at Wyndham are several different groups: the Board of Directors, Wyndham Green Council, Global Green Council (now has more than 200 members worldwide), and Green Franchisee Advisory Board. All stakeholders have a say in how Wyndham structures its environmental initiatives. In a company the size of Wyndham, it is critical that there be structured green leadership at all levels. The role of each group is explained in the sustainability report.

Sustainability Report Highlights

What I thought were the sustainability report’s strengths were the following:

• Easy-to-understand graphics that clearly detail the corporate structures that make Wyndham’s green programs work.
• The highlighting of how Wyndham is helping to educate its associates about sustainability. For example, associates undergo Sustainability 101 training—an online learning module available in 10 languages.
• Wyndham’s acknowledgment of the challenges presented by climate change and resource scarcity.
• Discussion of Wyndham’s Green Supplier initiative.
• Attention was paid to not only energy, water and waste but also subjects such as work/life balance for associates, wellness programs, diversity, and charity-related efforts.

What would I have liked to see more of in the report? It certainly would have been nice to read more than just a few very brief success stories. Also, given the size of Wyndham Worldwide, there has got to be some great people stories. Wyndham passed on this opportunity. Also missing was attention to how the company is incorporating green design in its prototypes (if it is), and what it is doing to transform cleaning and maintenance operations or improve indoor air quality. Also needed was more information on how Wyndham intends to step up the standards it requires of its franchisees (if it has such plans to do so).

If you would like to check out Wyndham’s new sustainability report, click here. There is far more in the report than I can address in one column.

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