Hospitality Going Green
“Hospitality Industry Going Green”
A persistent and mostly positive trend in business at this time is the development of sustainable environmental practices. This trend of “going green” has been around for decades but has recently been supported by a common thread among many in society and is being demanded by consumers and organizations as a new standard by which business should practice. The standard of “going green” has escaped few business types and businesses in the hospitality industry are no exception. Consumers are also especially demanding of the service industry to adopt more environmentally friendly practices and also make people aware of these strides, now that consumers have been made more aware of the damage not thinking about it is doing to the earth. Programs such as LEED and local and organization wide corporate social responsibility standards are moving toward environmental sustainability in the hospitality industry.
In fact in many cases consumers are willing to pay more for services, even in competitive markets, when such services are seen to be more “green” than others. The hospitality industry is notorious for it disposable business practices, using many resources in excess to provide for the customer an experience that is expected. The hospitality industry in the past has used more water, energy and other fundamental resources to function than one would expect, and part of this was lack of awareness and consumer demands for high quality, no matter the cost. Consumers expect clean linens, towels and warm or cool rooms from the moment they enter them and this is true not just of hotels as restaurants, bars and other hospitality organizations through lack of awareness support their overhead through prices (even supporting unsustainable menu items) to keep customers coming back. Many organizations are creating systems that will assist the hospitality industry in; “ways in which & #8230;businesses can incorporate greening efforts in areas such as housekeeping, maintenance, water usage, HVAC, operating systems and lighting. For example, the hospitality industry can make “green” improvements by conserving hot water and using more energy-efficient equipment in heating, cooling and lighting.” (Torres, 2008, p. 22) Still others are helping to support ways in which food service industries can support local, organic rather than costly logistic products (that might be cheaper) in their end of the environmental stream and consumers are responding by supporting such. (Schnell, 2007) Additionally the hospitality industry is seeking better ways to recycle resources. (“Masses of Glass Wasted;,” 2007, p. 27)
Historically the cost of upgrading systems to “greener” options was high, yet this is changing as more and more businesses develop “greener” solutions even in industrial scale. On demand hot water heating products, more efficient heating and cooling systems, more efficient laundry products, greener vehicles and logistic procurement options are reaching the consumer market and being developed for industrial uses. Even cleaning supplies have become developed for industrial uses that are better for the environment. In the infrastructure area designations such as LEED are becoming important. LEED a program designed by the U.S. Green Building Council, designates buildings based on their use of sustainable options, and can be applied to both residential and commercial builds and retrofits. The system of certification, unlike many others is internationally recognized and supports many aspects of “green” building including resource use, indoor environmental quality and sustainable construction practices and that the building then runs in the manner intended to save energy, support innovation, reduce the business’s carbon footprint and support corporate responsibility on varied scales. (USGBC, 2009, http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=1988)
IT must also be said that retrofitting or new construction that is “green” can still be costly and complicated (though it is getting less so) and this is likely the greatest drawback to large scale infrastructural change using “greener” ideologies. Yet, many businesses are finding that the cost burden initially is spread out and creates relatively rapid return when cost savings using more efficient products are seen. The system also tends to support better indoor environmental quality and may even improve the working conditions of employees and the “living” conditions of guests. (Torres, 2008, p. 22)
Ten years ago, the Sheraton Rittenhouse Square didn’t even have smoke-free rooms. Now the Philadelphia hotel has air that’s swept clean of such pollutants as mold, pollen and bacteria every 34 minutes. What’s more, the cut-glass front desk is 100% recycled, there’s a stand of oxygenating palms in the atrium lobby, the bedding is organic cotton and the paint is volatile organic compound-free. The hotel’s managers say the eco-amenities added two percent to construction costs, but this amount was soon offset by the increased bookings of environmentalist guests. (Motavalli, 2002, p. 31)
Additionally, marketing this new green trend could improve the sustainability of the business in an economic sense as again, some consumers are willing to pay more for “greener” services or at the very least choose one facility over another when green marketing is evident and green practices are used. (Motavalli, 2002, p. 31)
One of the newest “green” hotels in the industry the Orchard Garden Hotel in San Francisco is a good example of the development as it has occurred industry and locality wide. The hotel reports that it saves 20% annually on energy costs as a result of the sustainable practices it utilized to build its infrastructure. It is also designated with the LEED certification. One example of the innovation associated with “green” infrastructure at the Orchard Gardens Hotel is;
â€¦an innovative room energy control system to reduce room energy consumption. The room key card controls the lighting and air conditioning in a guest room. When exiting the room, the guest takes the key card, automatically ‘turning off’ the entire room (except for an outlet that guests can use to charge various battery-powered devices). This type of system is already in widespread use in Europe and Asia and is projected to reduce energy costs by up to 20%. (“Build Green: Orchard Garden Hotel,” ND, http://www.coolcalifornia.org/case-study/orchard-garden-hotel-san-francisco)
This answers the long resistant problem of the fact that consumers expect their room to be pleasant from the moment they enter it no matter the cost. By only providing energy to the room when a guest is actually in it the system can save countless resources. The hotel in fact utilizes green marketing to make itself far more attractive than other options and stresses that the “green” hotel does not mean poor service or less than high quality environments.
The Orchard Garden’s ‘green’ practices include chemical-free cleaning products, a 100% tobacco-free environment, recycled paper and soy-based inks. With every visit, you contribute to the environment’s health, while enjoying our city’s finest accommodations and services. (“Orchard Garden Hotel,” 2009, http://www.sanfrancisco.com/orchard-garden-hotel/)
The hotel is clearly striving to support its LEED construction through systems that are innovative and speak to a new breed of consumers who know what soy based inks are and why they are important as well as are aware of the fact that unutilized energy is wasted energy. The attempt then is for the hotel to provide services in a sustainable way that is more sustainable economically as well. If overhead is lower the business will be cheaper to run, if staff is invested in a better working environment they are more likely to be retained (staff turnover and staff quality are huge issues in the hospitality industry) and lastly if consumers are seeking to be more responsible in their hospitality usage this place is a win, win.
In addition to helping the environment and reducing safety or health risks, greening can drastically reduce costs. EPA statistics indicate that for every dollar invested in making a hotel greener through energy efficient upgrades, the facility brings in $6.27. (Torres, 2008, p. 22)
Though Torres points out that “green” practices can be challenging as things like chemical changes might be better for the environment but might pose greater health and safety concerns for staff. For this reason Torres suggests that using LEED information is a good way to mitigate mistakes that can come at a cost. It is also clear that mistakes such as this are much more limited in possibility as systems and products expand daily to meet the growing demand for “greener” options that are also safe and healthy.
The hospitality industry is clearly an area where “going green” can make a big impact. The industry has been historically wasteful in the past, in an attempt to provide quality for guests over quality and sustainable environmental practices. Though “going green” can be costly in its inception it will likely, if done correctly, pay the business back tenfold in savings and if marketed correctly bring people in at greater numbers than businesses that do not market and practice sustainably.
“Build Green: Orchard Garden Hotel,” ND, Retrieved May 2, 2009 http://www.coolcalifornia.org/case-study/orchard-garden-hotel-san-francisco
Masses of Glass Wasted; Bars Bid to Recycle 18, 300 Tonnes of Bottles. (2007, July 28). The Journal (Newcastle, England), p. 27.
Motavalli, J. (2002, July/August). Green Hotels: Beyond Good Hospitality. E, 13, 31.
“Orchard Garden Hotel,” 2009, Retrieved May 2, 2009 http://www.sanfrancisco.com/orchard-garden-hotel/
Schnell, S.M. (2007). Food with a Farmer’s Face: Community-Supported Agriculture in the United States. The Geographical Review, 97(4), 550.
Torres, K. (2008, February). “Greening” Offers Safety, Health Advantages for the Hospitality Industry. Occupational Hazards, 70, 22.
USGBC, 2009, “Intro: LEED What is it?” Retrieved May 2, 2009 http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=1988
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