New environmental benchmarking tool for hotels could provide over £400 million in savings

A new internet-based tool designed to help hotels to devise energy, water and waste saving plans could save the global industry as much as £440 million (US$641 million), say two international environmental organisations.

Conservation charity WWF and the International Hotels Environment Initiative (IHEI), which was set up by hotel industry leaders, including the Hilton and Marriott chains, to promote environmental progress in hotels around the world, will be officially launching in London on 12 September. The tool will allow hotels to monitor their energy management, fresh water consumption, waste management, wastewater quality, purchasing programmes, community relations and biodiversity improvements. Hotel managers will also be able to compare the performance of their hotels to that of others, although individual hotel data will remain confidential.

“This environmental benchmarking tool is about providing tangible solutions to environmental problems,” said Joss Tantram, Business Education Manager of WWF-UK. “Hotels do have a major impact but, in many cases, it is in the financial interest of the hotel to deal with that impact. Energy, water and waste initiatives can save money, improve customer and staff satisfaction, help hotels comply with legislation, enhance the local environment and play a part in minimising global problems such as climate change.”

One of the ways in which the tool is able to help hotels is with altering purchasing patterns. According to WWF and IHEI, many hotels purchase a wider range of products, especially potentially harmful chemicals, than are necessary. Factors such as poorly maintained equipment and bad dosing of chemicals can more than double the volume of cleaning chemicals required for a specific task, the organisations say, with good chemical management reducing the operating costs of waste water treatment.

A hotel’s energy use can also be reduced by the tool, which can calculate total energy consumption, record year on year consumption savings, and identify areas for improvement.

“There are clear savings to be made by using resources more efficiently, reducing waste and cutting costs,” said Reiner Boehme, who recently retired as Vice President of Engineering for Inter-Continental Hotels & Resorts. “The net reductions for Inter-Continental Hotels & Resorts have been US$26 million in water and energy over 10 years. Energy, waste and water bills are a major part of a hotel’s operating costs, so hotel managers will find the environmental benchmarking tool invaluable.”

Managers of individual hotels can register on the website, and will have to input data such as the total area of the hotel, the number of guest rooms, whether or not the hotel has a swimming pool, and the weight of linen processed in the laundry, as well as information about energy related issues. Registration and access to the private part of the site will cost £120 (US$175), and this will allow hotels use of the service for one year, a WWF-UK spokeperson told edie.

The tool was developed with the assistance of IHEI member hotel groups, which tested the tool to ensure that it is suitable for all sizes of hotels, as well as major chains. “This is terrific,” said Anthony Harris, Chief Executive of Hilton International. “I can see it being of real benefit to my general managers as they look to make regular savings in these key areas.”

The scheme has been funded by the waste management organisation Biffa Waste Services.

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