Green is the New Black: 5 Simple steps hoteliers can take to improve the earth and their bottom line

Posted on 11/01/2019 by Lukas James

Acting as a responsible steward of the earth is no longer a moral imperative, it increasingly makes good business sense as guests are expecting more from hospitality providers.

It’s not difficult to take steps towards increasing your environmental credentials and simple steps can make a big impact on margins.

Watch Your Waste
Along with being terrible for the environment, food waste has a major impact on the bottom line of hotels. The first step in combating this is to undertake a food waste audit so that measurable steps can be taken against to prevent the unnecessary production but and to have appropriate management plans to take care of any food waste generated.

With already slim margins in the industry, steps taken towards eliminating waste generally have a positive return on investment within the first year as wasteful patterns are identified and eliminated. Find out more on how to tackle food waste here.

Get Your Staff Involved

Having a strong commitment towards environmental issues from management is an important step in fostering a workplace that values and respects our environment. It is equally important to have your staff involved and invested in this process too, as any plans are only as robust as the front-line staff that execute them.

Wasteful and environmentally destructive patterns and habits are often the ‘easier’ way and it can take some training and time investment to make sure that everyone is working together on eco initiatives. Give your staff have ownership of the process by incentivising them to find creative ways to minimize waste and suggesting eco-friendly alternatives. AN example is to introduce an element of competition with departments awarded bonuses based on successful im or achievement of goals or in meeting particular reduction targets.

Start measuring

You can only change what you can measure so it’s important to conduct a thorough audit of where the most waste is being produced by your property. Track energy, water and food waste use monthly through an internal tracking system or through Energy Star Portfolio Manager. Getting complex data can be difficult so where possible, bring in an energy consultant to assist in this process.

A simple checklist could include:

  • Control of air-conditioning operating hours and temperatures to save energy
  • Ensuring well maintained and clean air supply ducts through regular cleaning
  • Using a voltage regulator and demand controller to save energy
  • Switching to long-life energy saving bulbs in corridors and guest rooms
  • Establishing energy saving targets
  • Timer set-up for lighting and other electrical systems
  • Hot water in guest rooms processed from heat exchange system
  • Operational time of areas like laundry, swimming pool, etc managed to reduce consumption
  • Energy-saving measures implemented for the back of the house areas

Eliminate SIngle Use Items

Hotels are huge consumers of ‘stuff’ and some statistics report that packaging alone can account for up to 40% of a hotel’s waste stream. Some of the most unnecessary plastic usage in properties include sewing kits wrapped in plastic, glasses in the bathroom wrapped in plastic and tea bags wrapped in plastic but for a bigger impact, start looking at:

  • Water bottles - Eliminate plastic water bottles from around the property and in guest rooms. A simple alternative is to use purified water or glass bottles. By just removing plastic water bottles from conference rooms Hilton estimates that this will save roughly 20 million water bottles annually.
  • Toiletries - Dispensers are a great substitute for individual single use items. Shower gel, shampoo and conditioner look great in metal or glass bottles and it prevents millions of these from entering landfills or into our ocean.
  • Plastic straws have gained international attention as one of the most clear examples of short term convenience with a long term impact. Each straw is used on average for 10 minutes but takes over 450 years to break down. Many hotels have opted to switch to metal or plastic straws using companies like Bambew to provide eco-friendly alternatives to single use plastic straws.

Let’s Talk About It

A 2013 survey of 1,300 U.S. travelers by showed that nearly two-thirds of travelers often or always consider the environment when choosing hotels. It is an important issue for many many customers, but it needs to be carefully managed to make sure the message is clear for all guests.

By crafting a personal and meaningful message to guests, you can advise why you are taking this route, promoting the positive difference it can make and explaining how guests can support it. There’s a far higher likelihood that hotels can bring customers along on the journey with them and stimulate broader change.

Going green is not as hard as it may seem. With a coordinated effort, hotels can make a positive impact on the environment and their bottom lines, creating a happier and healthier world for all its inhabitants.

Photo by Gustavo Quepón


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