Thursday, May 31, 2012

High Performance Hospitality

High Performance Hospitality: Sustainable Hotel Case Studies is a book written by three students at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and the University’s School of Natural Resources and Environment who decided to publish their joint masters project on sustainability in the hospitality sector.

Amisha Parekh, Michele Diener and Jaclyn Pitera, created this report that deeply analises eight hotel properties which vary in size (90-900 rooms), price (mid-rate, convention, luxury), location (urban/rural), diamond rating, guest type (transient, government, business, conventioneer) and construction type. The analysis focuses on their respective sustainability efforts through all the stages of design, construction and operations and also on the  financial benefits to the company to implementing certain 'green' strategies. The book show that high performance sustainable development can be both practical and achievable. 

It is very interesting to see how the authors eliminate the 'green' adjective and substitute the word for much more adequate ones such as smart, high-efficiency and high-performance, giving a much clear understanding of what is the outcome of adopting sustainable initiatives.

The book is divided in four complementary sections: research background, key findings, case studies, and resources. However, what I found really interesting and comprehensible is starts. Just following the summary, the authors present us with a clear and simple matrix summarising all of the green initiatives that the eight hotels are adopting to become smart buildings. Also, the authors categorised the programs based on how easy or difficult they are to implement. The matrix is not only an index but an intelligent way of guiding us throughout the case studies.

Interesting keyfindinds
According to the authors, below are some of the key takeaways from the study the will benificiate not only the hotel industry, but also all organisations interested in driving change towards a better environment:
  • Employee education is key – Sustainability must become part of the company culture.  Being part of the culture will make it easier to implement steps and engage staff.

  • Experimentation is important – Sustainability is still quite a 'modern concept' which means there are lots of new technologies and products in the market. To make sure they work in your hotel, it is important to test them. Experiment the the products on one or two rooms and see if you are satisfied with it before buying in large quantities. As the author says, "Through experimentation, an organisation can identify the projects that work, and then execute them more effectively.”
  • One size does not fit all – Every hotel is different, and even if sustainability is included in their culture, each one will deal with the concept in their own way. 
  • Financial drivers to going green are there – You can start by introducing now-cost initiates that will give you a fast return, or be more aggressive and implement higher-costs initiates which will give you a bigger return, but in a long-time period. Either way it is always good business and will always financially compensate.
Summarising, this report can be a tool for the hotel developer or owner who is designing and building a hotel from the ground up, just as it can be a tool for the hotel manager who is operating an existing hotel. It can and should be used as a guide  "to learn why some practitioners have created sustainable hotels, understand how sustainable hotels achieve success, and gain insight into what features and practices are feasible."

Monday, May 28, 2012

Impacts and mitigation measures at the operational stage

It is well known that growing pressure is currently being exerted on every industry for operating in an environmentally sound manner. Hotel facilities are no different. 

According to Paulina Bohdanowicz increasingly strict legal regulations and standards are taking place. Also,  environmental reporting is in growing demand by the hotel business. All of these strongly shape a new way of operating hotel establishments. 

Excessive energy, water and material consumption are the actions that can cause more impact to the natural environment. However, small mitigation strategies can significantly reduce their impact as well as associated costs.


  • Depletion of resources.
  • Emissions of pollutants that lead to acid rains, global warming, ozone layer depletion and a wide range of secondary effects. Such polltants include carbon dioxide, sulphur and nitrogen oxides, particulates, volatile organic compounds, and hydrocarbons.
  • Energy conservation.
  • Increasing energy efficiency.
  • Incorporation of passive heating and cooling, as well as natural day-lighting.
  • Switching to more environmentally friendly and efficient fuels.
  • Utilisation of renewable energy sources.

  • Pressure on water resources, water shortages.
  • Wastewater generation.
  • Pollution of surface and groundwater reservoirs.
  • Contamination of aquatic life.
  • Possible destruction of ecosystems.
  • Secondary effects and hazards to human health.

  • Water conservation, reuse and treatment.
  • Increasing the efficiency of water use.
  • Use of environmentally friendly, biodegradable chemicals.


  • Excessive use of resources and associated emissions during the manufacture, transport and utilisation of various products.
  • Waste generation.
  • Contamination of soils and water reservoirs.
  • Contamination of biological life and destruction of ecosystems.
  • Emission of various air pollutants (volatile organic compounds, polychlorinated bi-phenyls, ozone depleting substances, hydrocarbons, etc.).

  • Avoid buying unecessary products.
  • Apply the 3Rs for the concumption of products and materials: Reduce, reuse and recycle!
  • Switching to more environmentally friendly products.

The Future of the Hotel Industry

Due to increased tourism and market globalisation, the hotel industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. At the same time,  such industry buildings require high level of resource utilisation. The ecological footprint of hotels is therefore typically quite large putting pressure on the global environment. 

In the hotel industry the typically prevailing need for short-term economic profits makes it difficult to incorporate sustainability principles, which do bring profits but in a long-term (Bohdanowicz). It is therefore critical for the industry to understand that going green is not only a good business, but a smart business! 

To better comprehend how much resources american hotels have been using and how much they could save, provides some useful info-graphs where the amount of energy, water, resources and CO2 are translated into simple everyday, relatable items and events.


An increasing number of hotels are already demonstrating that by implementing a few simple initiatives, they can save money and resources while also making a positive impact for both the ecology and social environment. 

In addition, ever more travellers expect that the places they choose to stay are environmentally conscious, and are favouring hotels that demonstrate this awareness in their everyday practices.

To maintain tourisms reputation as one of the most important economic, social, cultural and political phenomena, the industry must walk towards a  greener future.