For some years, hotels which had a fixed objective of environmental sustainability were almost the exception. Nevertheless, the promise to take care of the environment is becoming more of a priority objective for hotel chains. Among other reasons is because not only does the customer demand quality and good service, but also that their stay is “clean”, in the feeling that their accommodation is working towards reducing its carbon footprint.
This is the reason that the ISO 14001 certificate, (international standard that specifies requirements for an effective management system) is more and more in demand among hotel chains. We are talking of a practical guide for companies with which they can identify and evaluate their environmental risks, reduce their impact and improve their environmental behaviour in the medium and long term. Among other measures to achieve this, the hotel chains are charged with these four:
– Efficient use of energy and water. To diminish the CO2 emissions and avert water loss, sustainable hotels introduce automatic systems by which they control consumption: e.g. lighting systems control the quantity of light needed, movement sensors which put out lights when they are not needed, automatic shutters. Also, the key to manage the use of water well is to control its consumption, especially in the bathroom. In old toilets, the average water used per flush was 12 litres. Now there are much more efficient systems which can reduce that to 3 litres or less per flush. Equally, well-managed laundry services can also result in significant water savings. Another form of sustainability is to install water fonts to encourage customers to consume less bottled water.
– Sustainable supplies. The choice of supplier is very important, since their services are a large cost to the hotel. For this, the key is to choose suppliers which share the same philosophy with respect to the environment. For example, a subcontractor for laundry must use biodegradable products, the same if you rely on a company for catering, they should use produce from ecological farming.
– Recycling. In addition to separating waste, something that most hotels have been putting into practice for years, another way of contributing to the environment is to make attractive decorations out of recycled materials.
– Awareness among clients. More and more clients are asking for accommodation that agrees with their philosophy regarding the environment, but those who have not yet taken on board the idea of sustainability can be persuaded to look at it with new eyes. The way to address the problem is to raise awareness with messages in the rooms, suggesting the various ways in which water and light can be used most efficiently in an environmentally friendly manner. Another way to promote sustainability is by providing bikes for their clients to explore their surroundings.