IHG sets 2017 water reduction target

Major hotel company, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), has today announced that it will reduce water use per occupied room in water-stressed areas by 12% by 2017.

The company is targeting water-stressed areas because it “reflects our Corporate Responsibility approach to concentrate our efforts in the areas where they matter” and is one of a series of new Corporate Responsibility targets announced today for 2013-2017.

Water is the most local sustainability issue in that excessive water use by a business will be directly felt by the local community and therefore IHG is focusing on saving water in areas where it is a scarce resource.

The company says water costs tend to be high in these areas, creating an additional incentive for hotels to manage costs and create shared value.

To help IHG hotels meet the new target and manage their water consumption, the company is encouraging more hotels to enrol on its Green Engage online system, which tracks the use of energy, carbon and water and the management of waste.

Currently, 2,554 hotels are signed up to the system, which is 50% of the company’s estate.

With water one of eight action group areas in IHG Green Engage, the system offers advice to its hotels on a range of topics including water efficient fixtures and appliances, water collection, treatment and re-use, and irrigation.

The new targets follow last week’s release of the UN Global Compact report, which found that businesses efforts on sustainability may have reached a plateau. Many companies have stressed how efficiency gains are becoming harder to find, particularly around water use.

Commenting on this, IHG’s vice president of Corporate Responsibility and global lead on environmental sustainability, Paul Snyder, told edie that although the “low hanging fruit” efficiency gains are getting higher the commitment sophistication of the estate is also growing.

“We have had 43 thousand green solutions executed on our estate and if you look at the trend line on that its trending up, not plateauing. So I don’t see a plateau in our business but I will say some of the low hanging fruit or the easy measures have been done to a certain extent.

“Our ability within IHG Green Engage to identify the difference between a LEED Gold certified hotel and a hotel that runs its air conditioning with the windows open in the summertime allows us to ensure that we target efficiency at the latter hotel,” he said.

The target has been set following an 11% reduction in purchased water on a per room basis in 2012 and a 2% reduction in waste water per room.

“Our strategy gives us a lot of confidence that while 12% water reduction is a stretching ambition we know that we can map out a plan to get there,” said Snyder.

IHG has also announced that it will reduce its carbon footprint per occupied room by 12%.

Leigh Stringer

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