Reducing the carbon footprint of hotels is important for a number of reasons. According to the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, the hospitality industry accounts for around 1% of global carbon emissions. While 1% may seem like a small number, it’s relatively significant given that over 90% of carbon emissions come from energy, agriculture, forestry, and land use alone.
Many experts believe that climate change is a significant issue with potentially serious consequences. Therefore, it’s important for every industry, including hospitality, to prioritize the reduction of carbon emissions. By doing so, hotels can help mitigate the effects of climate change while helping brands to stand out from their competitors and improve their brand image.
While industry legislature may be slow to enact change, there are several strategies that can be employed on a business-by-business level. This is particularly relevant in hospitality where reducing a hotel’s carbon footprint could provide both a more sustainable outlook as well as a competitive advantage.
How Can Hotels Reduce Their Carbon Footprint?
Hotels can reduce their carbon footprint by implementing sustainable practices and investment strategies. By adopting these methods, hotels can make significant progress towards achieving net-zero emissions and becoming carbon neutral.
1. Reduced Reliance on Fossil Fuels
With their significant impact on carbon emissions, fossil fuels are the largest contributor to global climate change, accounting for over 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Despite this, many individuals and businesses continue to rely on fossil fuels such as crude oil and natural gas for energy, with the hospitality industry being no different. However, hotels can make investments to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels through the following strategies:
- Adopt renewable energy: The adoption of renewable energy helps hotels reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and decrease CO2 emissions. Solar panels and geothermal energy are just some of the renewable energy sources that hotels can use to generate power for their properties.
- Conduct a hotel carbon footprint assessment: Hotels can conduct a carbon footprint assessment with a hotel carbon footprint calculator to identify which of their operational activities are the most carbon-intensive. Once they have identified these activities, they can take steps to reduce their carbon footprint.
- Switch to renewable energy sources: The most effective way for hotels to reduce their carbon footprint is by transitioning to renewable energy sources which produce significantly fewer emissions than fossil fuels. In addition to mitigating climate change, transitioning to renewable energy forms can help hotels realize long-term cost savings.
- Adopt energy-efficient design and technologies: Hotels can lower the carbon intensity of their operations by reducing the amount of energy that is used for different processes and activities. By decreasing energy usage, hotels can also cut down on needless energy expenditures.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle: Hotels can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels by implementing waste reduction programs such as reducing food waste and plastic bottle usage. Hotels can also encourage guests to reduce waste generation by providing refillable toiletries and reusable water bottles.
- Water-saving measures: Implementing water-saving measures and encouraging guests to reduce water usage by reusing towels to cut down on laundering can help conserve water and reduce a hotel’s carbon footprint.
By adopting these sustainable practices, hotels can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and contribute to a greener, more sustainable future.
2. Lowered Use of Disposables
Disposables in hospitality refer to single-use items that are used in hotels, motels, restaurants, and other establishments in the hospitality industry. These are your food service disposables, like plates, cups, cutlery, and food containers, as well as single-use toiletries, such as shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion containers.
Here are some ways hotels can reduce their reliance on disposables:
- Eliminate single-use plastics: Hotels can eliminate single-use plastics by replacing them with reusable alternatives. For example, hotels can replace disposable water bottles with glass bottles and cups, and replace plastic straws with biodegradable alternatives.
- Offer refillable amenities: Hotels can offer refillable amenities such as shampoo, conditioner, and soap dispensers instead of single-use plastic bottles.
- Provide reusable items: Investing in reusable items such as water bottles, coffee cups, and shopping bags, and giving these items to guests, can help minimize the use of disposable alternatives.
- Encourage guests to participate: With effective branding and communications, hotels can encourage guests to participate in sustainability initiatives by providing information on how to reduce waste and offering incentives for eco-friendly behavior.
- Partner with sustainable suppliers: By partnering with suppliers who offer eco-friendly products and packaging, hotels can reduce the amount of waste generated by the hotel.
These measures can help hotels position themselves as eco-friendly and improve their reputation in the industry, especially among guests who care about sustainability and want to know how to reduce their carbon footprint in hotels.
3. Focus on Shopping Locally
One of the most effective ways hotels can reduce their carbon footprint is by working with local suppliers or vendors. A few specific strategies focus on the following:
- Locally sourced food ingredients: Hotels can reduce their carbon footprint by sourcing food ingredients locally. By working with local food vendors, hotels can support small businesses and fuel the local economy. Additionally, they can cut back on the1500 miles on average that food needs to travel.
- Reduce food waste: Hotels can reduce food waste by ordering only what they need and using leftover food for other purposes. This can help reduce the amount of food waste generated and lower a hotel’s carbon footprint.
- Offer locally made products: Hotels can offer locally made products such as toiletries, souvenirs, and other items. This can help support local businesses and reduce the carbon footprint associated with shipping products from other locations.
- Partner with local suppliers: Hotels can partner with local suppliers who offer eco-friendly products and packaging. This can help reduce the amount of waste generated by the hotel and support local businesses.
- Encourage guests to shop locally: Hotels can encourage guests to shop locally by providing information on local businesses and attractions. This can help support the local economy and reduce the carbon footprint associated with transportation.
In addition to reducing a hotel’s carbon footprint, shopping locally also means that the money spent stays within the community, supporting small businesses and contributing to the local economy.
4. Automation of Energy Consumption
In addition to transitioning to renewable energy sources like solar panels and wind turbines, automation technologies can be significant investments in conserving energy. Hotels can start by implementing smart energy management systems that use advanced technology to monitor energy usage in real-time and optimize energy consumption throughout the hotel. By analyzing data and adjusting settings automatically, hotels can reduce energy waste and improve overall efficiency.
Additionally, hotels can invest in automated systems to better control energy consumption, such as lighting and heating. For example, motion sensors can be installed to automatically turn lights on and off, thereby reducing the amount of energy used to light empty rooms. Smart thermostats can also be programmed to adjust air conditioning systems according to occupancy, ensuring that energy is not wasted heating or cooling unoccupied rooms.
Encouraging guests to conserve energy during their stay is not easy. Investing in automated solutions to better control energy consumption can help bridge the gap to lower energy waste and reduce carbon emissions.
Having a high-performing network is the foundation to support automation in energy consumption. Proper connectivity enables the use of smart energy management systems and automated lighting and heating systems. By investing in fast and reliable network solutions, hotels can also implement smart energy management systems that effectively track energy usage and enhance energy consumption.
The Cox Sustainability Initiative
Cox Enterprises, the parent company of Blueprint RF, has launched a program called the Cox Sustainability Initiative which focuses on driving positive environmental change both inside the company and within the communities it serves.
The program is centered around the Cox Conserves goals, which include sending zero waste to landfills by 2024 and becoming carbon and water-neutral by 2034. The initiative is designed to create positive environmental changes in the communities where Cox operates by operating in ways that reduce its impact and inspire its employees, customers, suppliers, and partners.
The Cox Sustainability Initiative adheres to Environmentally Preferred Purchasing (EPP) principles, which refer to the procurement of goods and services from suppliers that employ manufacturing and distribution processes that have a lesser or reduced impact on the environment when compared with competing suppliers that provide the same goods and services.
Learn more about the environmental initiatives and Cox’s impact on the hospitality and entertainment industries, or become a proponent of change and a future case study by working directly with BlueprintRF.