Last Updated 23 Jun 2020

Hotels and the Environment

Category Environment
Essay type Research
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HOTEL INDUSTRY AND THE ENVIRONMENT By VASUNDHARA TANWAR LITERATURE REVIEW When we talk of hotels we never think that something like that could have an impact on the environment and people would spend millions of rupees and infinite number of hours to deal with this so called impact. However this is absolutely the case. The seemingly small problem is literally taking the world by storm. So much so that national governments, hotels and even the UN are taking steps in order to find solutions to this problem.

Extensive research has been done in the recent years by economists and scientists etc to come up with the most sustainable ways to run hotels since the degradation of the environment is a major concern worldwide. Papers like “An analysis of environmental management, organizational context and performance of Spanish hotels” by M. J. Alvarez which addresses the factors that determine the deployment of environmental management practices and its effects on firms’ financial performance have been published.

Results find support for the notion that age of facilities, size, chain affiliation, stakeholder environmental pressures, and their use of operations management techniques exert a lasting influence on the degree of implementation of environmental management practices by hotel firms. Moreover, findings show a positive relationship between environmental management practices and firms’ financial performance. Various other economists in different countries have drawn similar conclusions. The United Nations environment programme also published a guide “how the hotel and tourism industry can protect the ozone layer”.

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Environmental Good Practice in Hotels, published by UNEP IE and the International Hotel & Restaurant Association (IH&RA), presents 15 case studies selected from the IH&RA annual Environmental Award. The case studies document environmental programmes initiated by independent hotels and international chains across the globe - in Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe and North America. Action areas include environmental policy, design and construction, water, energy, waste, emissions, purchasing, staff training, and guest communication. The range of environmental initiatives featured is extensive, from simple recycling easures to water conservation using the latest technology, and from resorts built to strict environmental guidelines, to small hotels where the personal commitment of the general manager drives environmental activities. All case studies highlight the environmental and economic benefits gained by the actions taken. Also included are examples of environmental initiatives taken by national hotel associations, and a list of sources on environmental management publications and programmes in the hotel industry. These are just some examples of what is being said and done by organizations that observe what is going on.

The actual participants, the hotels, are also not far behind. Many hotels have come up with various innovative ways to contribute to the betterment of the environment. Some of them have won various awards for this very purpose. Hotels now days strive to achieve the ECOTEL® certification which is primarily the hallmark for environmentally sensitive hotels. One of the pioneers in such activities would be the orchid group of hotels. However, there are others that strive to achieve excellence in this cause and some have been quite successful too. INTRODUCTION Most countries rely heavily on the services sector for its growth.

A major part of this sector is tourism. Tourism is one of the leading growth sectors of the economy and brings in billions of dollars for developing countries. When we talk about tourism we can hardly isolate it from talk of hotels. Hotels in a sense are synonymous with tourism and one cannot be talked about without reference to the other. The growth of the tourism industry has greatly increased the amount of stress on the environment. Now each individual has varying degrees of impact on the environment which largely depends on the personal choices made by individuals and is scattered world over. The same is true for hotels.

They have an effect on the biodiversity right from its conception. This makes it imperative for us to study exactly how and where do hotels affect our environment, what can be done to reduce this impact and how aware is the current generation of hotels regarding this issue. Taking the example of India we see that as a result of increasing tourism in Goa, developers built several hotels. The hotels soon drew up to 66,000 gallons of water per day from wells and other local sources. Many of the wells and rivers the community had relied on went dry. This is a common problem in many areas where tourism runs into the limits of natural resources.

With various such instances in several parts of the world today, ECOTOURISM—tourism that is nature-oriented and environmentally focused—is growing rapidly. This represents a growing market for environmentally friendly options in the tourism industry. Ecotourism aside, many in the hotel industry have recognized the negative impact their business activities have on the environment and have taken action to alleviate those impacts. Environmentally responsible business practices dovetail well with the newfound popularity of ecotourism. They harmonize tourism and environmental sustainability.

This awareness has given rise to what can be called the “GREEN HOTELS”. The term "green hotels" describes hotels that strive to be more environment friendly through the efficient use of energy, water, and materials while providing quality services. Green hotels conserve and preserve by saving water, reducing energy use, and reducing solid waste. They have seen benefits such as reduced costs and liabilities, high return and low-risk investments, increased profits, and positive cash flows. Identifying these benefits and incentives has allowed the popularity of green hotels to grow. Hotels are consistently becoming greener.

The most costly and wasteful use of resources in hotels are usually in the consumption of nonrenewable energy, excessive water use, and the generation of waste. Through this paper we would try to point out the complex nature of the impact that hotels have on our environment and the steps that can be taken in order to minimize this impact as much as possible. We would also like to shed light on the work that has already been done in this field by various hotels and organizations. Many organizations have done commendable work in trying to reduce their ecological footprint and have, in some sense, become pioneers and inspiration for others.

For instance, the orchid group of hotels is pretty known for the kind of work it does. IMPACTS Tourism has a fairly large environmental footprint. Hotels, being at the heart of it, shoulder the responsibility for this. The following table shows that hotels are responsible for 21% of total emissions generated by tourism industry. These just constitute one part of their impact which in reality has many layers and levels to it. The hotels have an impact on the biodiversity at each stage of its life cycle, right from planning to its closure.

These impacts could be summarized as follows: At the planning stage, the most important issue in determining the level of impact that a hotel will have relates to choices about its location and design. Even the most sustainably operated hotel will have major impacts if it is built in a biodiversity-sensitive area. Choices about the materials that will be used to construct the hotel, where those materials will come from and the total physical footprint of the hotel will also influence how significant its impacts will be in the operational stage.

At the construction stage, impact is determined by the size and location of the area cleared for development and where construction activities are taking place, the choice of construction methods, the sources and amount and type of materials, water and energy used to build the hotel, the location of temporary camps for construction workers, inadequate storage facilities for construction materials, the amount of construction waste that has to be disposed of, and other types of damage such as surface soil erosion or compaction caused by construction activities or disruption of natural water flows and drainage patterns.

In the operational stage, a hotel's impact comes mainly from the energy, water, food and other resources that are consumed in running the hotel, by the solid and liquid wastes it produces, by the way its grounds are managed, and by the direct impacts of its guests. In addition, regular renovation and replacement of furniture, appliances and facilities can cause impacts through purchasing choices and increased waste generation.

Using energy and water more efficiently, using organic and sustainably produced food, reducing, treating and disposing of waste appropriately, making sustainable purchasing decisions and managing gardens with natural-style plantings can all help a hotel to reduce its adverse impacts on biodiversity. Similarly, a hotel's relationship with host communities not only affects the sustainable operations of the hotel but also the use of environmental resources by communities themselves. At the closure stage, a hotel's impacts come from the disposal of materials removed from the hotel to refurbish it, convert it for other uses, or demolish it, nd from the work involved in these activities. It may be possible to reuse and recycle some materials, but there may also be some toxic materials, particularly from older buildings, which will require careful handling and management. A responsible hotel operator should also foresee supporting activities of ecological restoration as required. Responsible siting and design, the effective management of energy and water consumption, and the proper disposal of wastewater and solid waste are important challenges for any hotel hoping to improve the sustainability of its operations.

Now even though a hotel has environmental impact through different stages of its lifecycle the most easily cited and the longest running impact that they have is at their operational stage since once a hotel has been built, it stays in the business for very many years under normal circumstances. The day to day running has impacts which are a lot times ignored in the overall picture. This mostly becomes the case because individually, hotels do not have a significant impact on the environment. Collectively however, they can be very wasteful and use huge amount of resources.

It has been estimated that seventy-five percent of hotels’ environmental impacts can be directly related to excessive consumption. This is wasteful in terms of resources and creates unnecessary operational costs. The three key areas of environmental impact are energy, water, and waste. Energy – Excessive energy use is extremely costly and with minor adjustments, it can lead to massive cost savings. According to Gossling et. al. (2005), “the average energy consumption per bed per night in hotels might be in the order of 130 Mega joules.

Hotels generally use more energy per visitor that local residents, as they have energy intense facilities, such as bars, restaurants, and pools, and have more spacious rooms. Studies have determined that a hotel emits an average 20. 6 kg of carbon dioxide per night. Waste – A study conducted by Bohdanowicz(2005) also indentified that hotels are not only resource intensive and that waste generation is on e of the most visible effects on the environment. One estimate identified that “an average hotel produces in excess of one kilogram of waste per guest per day”.

Approximately thirty percent of waste in hotels can be diverted through reuse and recycling. Water - Tourists and residents alike require a clean and dependable supply of water for survival including drinking, cooking and cleansing. However, water is integral to the amenities usually expected by tourists, such as swimming pools, landscaped gardens, and golf courses. Water also supports industries such as agriculture that support the tourism industry (Pigram, 1995). Thus, tourists demand more water than local resident s on a per capita basis (Essex, Kent ; Newnham, 2004).

It has been estimated by Salen (1995) that 15,000 cubic meters of water would typically supply 100 rural farmers for three years and 100 urban families for two years, yet only supply 100 luxury hotel guests for less than two months (Holden, 2000). In dryer regions, tourists' water consumption can amount to 440 liters a day per tourist, which is almost double the average amount of water used by residents in Spain (UNEP, 2008). In destinations that do not have the required infrastructure and systems to manage these impacts, severe degradation of the environment can occur.

The following table summarizes the environmental impact of the day to day workings of any hotel Service/Activity| Description| Main Environmental Impacts| Administration| Hotel management Reception of clients| Energy, water and materials (mainly paper) Generation of waste and hazardous waste (toner cartridges)| Technical Services| Equipment for producing hot water and heating Air conditioning Lighting Swimming pools Green areas Mice and insect extermination Repairs and maintenance| Energy and water consumption Consumption and generation of a wide range of hazardous products Air and soil emissions

Generation of waste water Pesticides use| Restaurant/bar| Breakfast, lunch, dinner Beverages and snacks| Energy, water and raw materials consumption Packaging waste Organic waste| Kitchen| Food conservation Food preparation Dish washing| Consumption of energy and water Packaging waste Oil waste Organic waste Generation of odours| Room Use| Use by guests Products for guests' use Housekeeping| Energy, water and raw materials consumption Use of hazardous products Generation of waste packaging Generation of waste water| Laundry| Washing and ironing of guest clothes

Washing and ironing of hotel linens| Consumption of energy and water Use of hazardous cleaning products Generation of waste water | (Graci, 2009) This gives us a clear enough picture of the ecological impacts of hotels. Thus it becomes imperative that each hotel recognizes them and takes initiative to curb these impacts. With the growth of the tourism sector all over the world and with more and more hotels coming up each day these small things become issues of epic proportions when looked at collectively. In a time when our environment is in a very fragile condition one can’t ignore such a situation.

The sooner hotels realize this the better it would be. However, these issues were not even brought to light till very recently. The annual hospitality consultants’ conference in 2007 did not even mention any of the environmental issues that plagued hotels in their top 10 problems of the industry. BEST PRACTICES There are many green practices that hotels can implement and they also help save unnecessary costs. There can be many ways in which a hotel can reduce its footprint. Some of them can be: * Not discharging waste in water bodies – prevents pollution. * Recycling Use of compact fluorescent lights - saves energy. * Reuse of linens - saves water, detergent, energy and greenhouse gases. * Low-flow shower systems - saves water and energy. * Local products - save transportation costs. * Installation of green roofs - saves energy. * Installation of solar heaters or other renewable energy source - saves energy. These points are just a brief outline to what can really be done in order to go green. The possibilities as such are endless. There are some more sophisticated and cost heavy methods that can also be undertaken. BENEFITS OF GOING GREEN

Cost benefits Financial savings are one of the most significant factors that influence the implementation of environmental initiatives in a hotel. This is especially evident for hotel businesses that operate in a highly competitive market and where the cost of energy, water and waste disposal are high. Hotel operators that can maximize their efficiency and reduce waste will be more cost-effective than their competitors. Hotels also use large amounts of energy to keep guests cool in hot temperatures, and equally large amounts of energy to keep them warm during the winter.

In some destinations, hotels place an additional, sometimes unsustainable demand on local water resources and generate large quantities of food and packaging waste. Despite the setup costs and the possible lengthy return on investment associated with environmental initiatives, the economic benefits usually outweigh the cost of implementation. Starting with projects that are less capital intensive - such as retrofitting light bulbs, energy metering, and training staff to be conscious of energy use - can lead to substantial cost savings. Competitive advantage

Green programs can provide a competitive advantage to leaders as long as green activities continue to be voluntary. Over time, however, green practices in the hospitality industry will become a baseline requirement, particularly as the cost of non-renewable energy continues to rise, regulatory pressure increases, and consumers become more demanding. Therefore, hotels with business models that revolve around green practices will have the strongest opportunity to achieve a competitive advantage by being ahead of the emerging sustainability curve. Employee retention

Employees are identified as one of the greatest benefits of going green. Employees, like hotel guests, are increasingly sophisticated and "tuned" into current thinking in society and are far more likely to identify with an employer whose principles and practices are aligned with their values. Environmental programs have proved to be an effective means of generating enthusiasm and motivating staff to work as a team to achieve a common purpose. Many hotel companies use environmental programs as a staff incentive - the financial savings earned are translated into cash or other rewards such as in-house events or trips.

Employee turnover rate in the hotel sector is relatively high therefore increasing the retention rate will also save the business money in training of new staff. Customer loyalty There has been a shift in the expectations and demands of consumers. The typical hotel guest of today is more sophisticated and to varying degrees is likely to be concerned about environmental issues such as recycling bottles, cans and paper at home as well as making greener lifestyle choices, such as organic food or fuel-efficient vehicles.

Many guests however, make their decision to stay at a hotel facility based on location, amenities, and service. The implementation of environmental initiatives may play a smaller role in a guest's choice of a property. The influence from customers however occurs when their level of awareness increases and they come to expect environmental practices such as recycling. Despite first-time guests basing their decisions on location, amenities and service, customer loyalty may increase once they have experienced a hotel which has demonstrated a level of environmental commitment.

Regulatory compliance Hotels must anticipate future regulatory changes and implement initiatives to mitigate the possible costly effects of emerging regulation. Savvy businesses are aware that regulations do not have to be a negative restraint on their daily operations - in fact, they can offer opportunities to gain an advantage over competitors. Some environmental regulations are good for economic competition as they stimulate innovation that can offset the cost of compliance. By implementing measures in the face of societal and egulatory pressures, unexpected, but substantial cost savings as well as potential new areas of profit may be found. The hotel industry worldwide is increasingly being regulated for waste, water, energy use and greenhouse gas emission. Being aware of pending rule changes will allow you to adopt measures in advance, and avoid potentially higher future costs which may be associated with compliance. Risk management Risk minimization is now viewed as increasingly intertwined with good corporate social responsibility and governance.

Managing risk is as much about minimizing the potential damage from decisions and actions taken from within a company as it is about managing external exposure. Traditionally, a hotel's risk management strategy has been focused on health and safety concerns around food and water, pest infestation, fire or water damage, outbreaks of disease, and guest security and safety. In recent years however, environmental and social issues are emerging as a key risk issue for the lodging sector. Environmental risks include: * Water and land contamination. * Air and noise pollution. Supply chain environmental practices. * Waste management. Environmental risks also have an impact on the cost of capital for businesses of various types and sizes, and may affect the value of a company over the long term. In addition, the investment community is increasingly regarding excellence in environmental management and performance as an indication of the quality and aptitude of management in general. Some insurance companies and lenders are beginning to selectively adjust their rates based on environmental criteria stipulated by ethical funds.

Companies that integrate the environment into their business decisions and reduce their environmental risk and potential liabilities are in a better position to secure investment and reduce their financial and reputational market exposure (Graci and Dodds, 2009). Cause it's the right thing to do! Beyond regulation and compliance, many environmental and social initiatives are voluntary. Whether driven by cost savings or a principled strategy, the hotel industry is recognizing the environment, the community and their human capital as a valuable resource to be protected.

Long-term business sustainability will depend on this. Many hotels have implemented social initiatives and corporate social responsibility (CSR) into their regular day-to-day practices. Corporate social responsibility in the hotel industry ideally exists in human resources management, the local community, and through promoting and practicing environmental initiatives and is heavily influenced by internal and external forces. CSR has been widely expanding throughout the hotel industry, mainly to prove that corporate unethical behavior is no longer a problem.

Thus, hotels are embarking on being ethical through social initiatives by protecting and supporting communities, their human resources, and by implementing environmental initiatives. Many international and local hotels are becoming involved in corporate social responsibility in order to extend their brand knowledge to different types of audiences, to gain employee retention and improved competitive advantage, and lastly because it is "the right thing to do". Sixty-five percent of the top 100 companies in the world employ some sort of corporate social responsibility statement featured on their websites.

Several multinational companies have gained a very negative brand reputation based on their past unethical practices. Larger companies have been criticized as being the main culprit in releasing excess greenhouse emissions, climate change, environmental devastation, and unfair treatment of employees. Due to such criticisms and negative publicity, many businesses have increased the focus on corporate social responsibility. HIGH ACHIEVERS When it comes to hotels that are environmentally sustainable the first name that comes to mind is the Orchid group of hotels.

The Orchid became Asia's first Five Star hotel to win the ECOTEL® certification shortly after opening in May of 1997 and today (January 2011) is the only Hotel in the World to win over 80 international / national awards in 13 years from inception. Under the management of The Orchid Owner Vithal Kamat, the hotel has earned more environmental accolades than any other hotel in the world. With this latest achievement, The Orchid becomes one of only six hotels in the world to maintain top-level, "five-globe," ECOTEL®-Certification. Though orchid group is a pioneer in environmentally friendly hotels, others ave also done substantial work. The fern group of hotels in India being one of them. The Uppal in New Delhi, Seasons in Pune etc are other ecotel hotels. Various international hotels are also actively involved in such projects that put environmental sustainability at its fore. In conclusion it can be said that though environmental sustainability is big problem that is plaguing the hospitality industry, it’s still not too late to correct the situation. References * www. uneptie. org * http://www. concepthospitality. com * Accor 2010, 'Child Protection'.

Retrieved February 04, 2010 from http://www. accor. com/en/sustainable-development/ego-priorities/child-protection. html * Alexander, S 2002, Green Hotels: Opportunities and Resources for Success. Portland: Zero Waste Alliance. * Bohdanowicz, P 2005, 'European Hoteliers' Environmental Attitudes: Greening the Business, Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, vol. 46, no. 2, pp. 188-204. * Bohdanowicz, P 2006, 'Environmental Awareness and Initiatives in the Swedish and Polish Hotel Industries - Survey Results' International Journal of Hospitality Management, vol. 5, no. 4, pp. 662-668. * Bohdanowicz, P. and Zientara, P. 2008, 'Corporate Social Responsibility in Hospitality: Issues and Implications. A Case Study of Scandic' Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 271-293. * Brebbia, C. A. and Pineda, F. D. 2004, Sustainable Tourism. WIT Press, Boston. * Claver- Cortes, E. , Molina-Azorin, J. F. Pereira-Moliner, J. , Lopez-Gamero, M. D. 2007, 'Environmental Strategies and Their Impact on Hotel Performance' Journal of Sustainable Tourism. , vol. 15, no. 6, pp. 663-679. * Dodds, R. 005, Barriers to the Implementation of Sustainable Tourism Policy in Destinations. University of Surrey School of Management, Surrey. * Essex, S. , Kent, M. , ; Newnham, R. 2004, 'Tourism development in Mallorca: Is water supply a constraint? ' Journal of Sustainable Tourism, vol 12, no. 1, pp. 4-28. * Fairmont Hotel and Resorts 2001, The Green Partnership Guide. A Practical Guide to Greening your Hotel, 2nd edition, Toronto * Fairmont Hotels and Resorts 2008, Corporate Responsibility. Retrieved February 04, 2010, fromhttp://www. fairmont. com/EN_FA/AboutFairmont/enviroment/Awards/CorporateEn

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