COP21 is shorthand for “Conference of the Parties 21,” which was held in Paris November 30 – December 11. Countries from all over the world met up in Paris to tackle the best ways to stop global warming. This year’s conference set an ambitious goal of capping global warming average at 1.5 degrees.

No small task.

So how do we connect this important global challenge to the corporate responsibility of the hospitality industry?

Every business gets their own value from sustainable real estate. What all hotel developers have in common is the need for healthy investor relationships. There is a strong trend of investors placing their money into companies with robust sustainability programs because the statistics show these companies perform better financially. Developers of hotels and resorts have the opportunity to attract these investors.

Don’t take my word for it. Bank of America increased its second environmental business initiative from $50 billion to $125 billion, focused on investing those dollars in low-carbon business by 2025. They are lending to, investing in, raising capital for, advising, and developing financing solutions for sustainable clients around the world. More investors are using sustainable, responsible and impact investing strategies in their investing criteria. According to The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment’s (US SIF) Report on Sustainable and Responsible Investing Trends in the United States, $6.57 trillion worth of investment dollars at the end of 2013 included sustainable and responsible criteria, and the number is on the rise.

The hospitality industry is missing a golden opportunity to go after this investment capital. While other industries grow by going green, hospitality lags in using smart sustainable business practices that improve its financial performance. It’s understandable that investors are overlooking hospitality because of it.

It’s not as easy as making marketing promises. To get access to sustainable investors, developers and owners need projects to have strong and verifiable sustainability attributes that prove high valued sustainability performance. The most widely adopted is LEED, but there are others, such as ENERGY STAR, WELL, Living Building Challenge, Green Globes and Sustainable Sites. Investors are attracted to third party verified programs, so you’ll need to do more than wash fewer towels.

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The LEED Silver certified Marriott Marquis in Washington, DC is the largest hotel in the city. 

The good news is that your guests’ experience will not suffer one bit. The list of ways that you can improve a building’s performance while actually enhancing the guest experience is long and varied.

This is a win-win. Sustainable development and operations will support the global imperative agreed upon by countries and companies alike at COP21, all the while improving the economics and financing options of future hotel development – and make every guest happier along the way.

Want to learn more about COP21? Technical Consultant Nash Emrich collected some of the more important trends for the building industry here.

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