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 Hoteliers promise action not words THE REVIEW ›› GREEN WATCH

THERE is a quiet and green revolution afoot and it is slowly gaining pace. Where carbon reduction was once the preserve of the eco fringes, it has now come of age and is increasingly championed by leading corporates, writes Roger Gardner. The travel and hotel trade is, by

its nature, a significant energy user that you might reasonably expect to seek savings where possible. But for some companies the drive is more of a crusade – a matter of honour to ‘do the right thing’ within their businesses and to encourage corresponding good behaviour among their corporate and individual clients. Yes, some clients are now using

environmental performance to differentiate between providers but, for the most part, the leading hotel groups and travel industry suppliers are now setting the pace themselves. Take the recently launched

‘Think Planet’ initiative by the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group which has set itself the hugely ambitious target of a 25 per cent energy consumption reduction by 2016. Nobody can be in doubt about the environmental and CSR imperatives to act on carbon but Think Planet goes way beyond lip service. It effectively says ‘we are willing to stand and be judged by our performance’. All very well, but how do you make good on such a tough promise? As Inge Huijbrechts, director for

responsible business at Rezidor, says, “It is a matter of having responsible business and environmental management in the DNA of the group”. That has to be a mix of top-

level conviction, a willingness to invest, genuine innovation and, perhaps most importantly, a commitment at all levels – from director to janitor – to deliver. Huijbrechts notes that ‘Think Planet’ is a product of “passion about environmental management in the group since 1989.” So, perhaps the rather obvious

yet crucial enabling ingredient is people. As much as green company behaviour is driven by enlightened individuals in the big groups, it is also the inspiration for smaller businesses in the

sector. Emma Stevens, who started the Lasswade Country House and Restaurant in Powys, Wales, was driven to start her business through an underlying belief in sustainable hospitality. From the personal green

touches in rooms to providing electric charging points for cars, the environment benefits from

from scrutinising current practice. Huijbrechts gives the example

of one day of professional examination of a single hotel building management system yielding in excess of over 500 megawatt hours energy reduction and a £60K annual cost saving. The ‘win-win’ is clear here but a variety of measures covering

"Think Planet goes way beyond lip service. It effectively says ‘we are willing to stand and be judged by our performance’. That's all very well, but how do you make good on such a tough promise?"

weaving sustainability into the fabric of the Lasswade business. Similarly, Jane Ashton, director

of sustainable development at TUI Travel, is credited with a succession of initiatives across their airline and hotel brands such as their rigorous guidelines for environmental sustainability in the hotels they use and operate. Such fired-up individuals spur

innovation and change cultures. That, in turn, leads to substantial improvements in environmental performance and cost savings. A strong business case is still needed to invest in major green projects but much can be gained

operational practice, purchasing and construction will need to be pushed hard to achieve the carbon reduction goals that are being adopted. Like Carlson Rezidor, TUI Travel

is also set on a greener future with a commitment to ten million greener and fairer holidays by 2015, certifying some 3,000 hotels as sustainable and seeking EMS certification. A by-product of their own

green successes is that the best businesses help to provide the framework of support to others. Along with other groups, Carlson Rezidor worked with the

International Tourism Partnership to set The Hotel Carbon Measure- ment Initiative which provides a standardised cross-industry methodology for measuring greenhouse gas emissions. Roll- out of this best practice among the big hotel groups will feed downward through the sector. Similarly, it is no surprise that

Lasswade has been keen to apply the methodology at its small hotel level and that too provides a quality standard for others to match. At both ends of the spectrum such actions serve to promote a virtuous circle of improvement not only within the sector but with clients who become ever more environmentally aware in their purchasing and practice. It is cheering to see that

initiatives such as Carlson Rezidor's Think Planet are making a real difference to the hotel and travel products on offer to businesses and individuals. Let's celebrate the enthusiasm that is driving for such ambitious goals. Mounting carbon pressures on

the travel and tourism industry will not abate so helping to deliver those goals is in all our interests, whether we provide the service or use it.


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