Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

Anyone who’s stayed at a hotel in the last several years is well-familiar with the various cards around the room explaining to customers how they can help with the hotel’s environmental goals, and therefore protect the planet. Most people take these with a grain of salt – how much does reusing towels and sleeping on dirty sheets really save the planet? But there is evidence that many hotels are making a diligent, impactful effort towards real sustainability.

According to a new LEED in Motion report from USGBC, there are now more than 400 LEED certified hotels globally, and that number is expected to increase significantly in the coming months and years as there are more than 1,600 hotels comprising nearly 1 billion square feet registered for LEED.

But as with any building, true sustainability must start with the building, but end with the occupants. Occupants – in this case, the people who are staying at the hotel – really can make the lion’s share of difference in terms of high-performance goals like energy and water savings. According to USGBC, quoting a TripAdvisor study, nearly two-thirds of travelers reported plans to make more environmentally friendly choices over the next year. And while on vacation, 88 percent of travelers turned off lights when not in their hotel room, 78 percent participated in the hotel’s linen and towel reuse program and 58 percent used recycling in the hotel.

The goal for facility managers in hospitality facilities should be to give their customers the tools to make the decisions to really help. Give them the technology to do so – like the growing number of hotels that require the key card inserted in the main switch to turn anything on (and, by extension, everything off automatically when you leave). These have been standard in Europe for years, and are finally making their way stateside.

And this decision-making also extends to customers choosing a hotel in the first place. Being green could even lead to more profits, as explained in this study by Cornell University, which found that LEED certified hotels are more profitable and gain more revenue.

As always, I’m interested to hear from you. What are some of the most impactful high-performance strategies you’ve seen at hospitality facilities?

By Greg Zimmerman

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