As green principles gain traction in travelers’ preference and the hospitality industry responds, something has been noticeably lacking in industry – a simple way to benchmark sustainability performance against the competition. Fortunately, The Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CSR) has recognized this need and has filled the void with the introduction of the Hotel Sustainability Measurement Tool.
Developed by Howard Chong, assistant professor at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration and Eric Ricaurte, the founder of Greenview, the complimentary tool will allow hoteliers to compare energy and water use as well as their carbon footprint in a clear and concise platform.
To develop the tool, Ricaurte and Chong benchmarked 4,725 hotels properties from 11 international hotel companies including; Hilton Worldwide, Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels, Host Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, IHG, Mandarin Oriental, Marriott International, Park Hotel Group, PGA Golf Resort, Saunders Hotel Group, and Wyndham Worldwide.
With this broad and varied data set, the baseline benchmarking will be incredibly interesting for hoteliers to see and understand. The tool provides a range of energy, water, and carbon data within each market and in broad segments as a baseline, from which hoteliers or their consultants can derive adjustments, normalization, and rationalize how they fit in the range.
How will your hotel fare? The hotels are grouped by STR Global’s segments (full service segments) and also geographic areas. To see the benchmark, a user selects the geographic region and segment, and with that information the tool provides a statistical range for carbon footprint and energy use per room, per occupied room and per square foot.
Tools like this are very accessible and valuable for hoteliers of any size to see how their hotel performance compares to similar properties. Historically, this has been the challenge in the hospitality industry with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager as the algorithms used can sometimes skew the comparison. Additionally, there are simply not enough other hotels of similar type to create a true benchmark.
For example, convention hotels are much more energy-intensive per square foot or per room as they have large meeting spaces that are part of the calculation, compared to a full service resort with limited indoor climate controlled public space. In scenarios like this, you are comparing apples to oranges. With the new tool, Ricaurte and Chong have done an excellent job in defining which properties are apples, pears, grapes and oranges for accurate comparison.
The tool will become more valuable with time as more hotels participate and the data set becomes bigger and provides a more robust benchmark.
With sustainability benchmarking becoming increasingly important for business, Paladino and Company has developed a similar tool in the retail shopping center world in conjunction with the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). The tool, the ICSC Property Efficiency Scorecard, helps to establish credible measurement techniques for sustainability in the retail industry, which much like hospitality, suffered from difficult benchmarking practices due to its wide variety of space uses including differing tenant mix and relative share of resource consumption between landlord and tenants. Based on the newly collected data, Paladino will provide an updated report on how the shopping center industry is performing as an aggregate in the near future.
Benchmarking is the best way to set industry goals and track progress. Understanding progress through industry comparisons and data will help further drive behavior, inspire friendly completion and thus continue to set the sustainability bar higher.
We are excited to see more organizations and trade associations working to help their industries to reduce their resource consumption and shared effect on climate change.
Dina Belon, LEED AP ID&C, is the director in Paladino’s Seattle office.