Eco-travel is only becoming more and more popular for explorers from around the world. People are realizing just how important it is to consider the environment when making travel choices, whether you’re flying across the ocean or simply going on a tour around your local major metropolitan city. Of course, one of the most important green choices you make on any vacation involves your lodging option. Because we can’t all stay in a tent, or specially designed eco-hut, most of us have to look to major hotels for our lodging. Fortunately, many companies realize that it’s important for the hospitality industry to do its part to make the world a greener place.
A hotel with a significant commitment to being green is Starwood. Drafted in 2009, the Environmental Sustainability Policy at Starwood has a number of key objectives that they strive to achieve in their daily operations. Goals include: conservation of natural resources, an emphasis on sustainable development across the globe, accurate and accountable reporting on environmental factors, a reduction in waste and pollution, preserving and encouraging biodiversity, and increasing awareness of environmental issues among guests and employees. They have a number of properties that have achieved LEED certification, and even more certified by Green Key as eco-friendly places to stay.
Starwood’s efforts to achieve greener operations include the following categories:
Energy: Their official goal is to reduce energy usage by 30% across the board by 2020 (using 2008 as a baseline year). As of 2015, Starwood has reduced their energy usage by 12.84%. All Starwood properties also undergo a third-party audit of their energy and water usage to keep them accountable in their reporting of these statistics. Starwood properties also make an effort to use renewable energy sources wherever possible, including bioethanol, biodiesel, and biogas.
Water: Their stated goal is to reduce water consumption by 20% by the year 2020 (also using 2008 as a baseline). At the end of 2015, they’ve achieved cross-chain reduction in water usage by 17.66%. They’ve been especially successful in reducing water consumption and waste in areas of the world where water is a more precious resource, including the Asia Pacific region. Starwood also uses the World Resources Institute’s Aqueduct tool to measure the impact their water consumption has on the environment around them.
Waste: In addition to a rigorous recycling program, they compost as much food as possible to reduce organic waste. Their shuttle vehicles are even powered by biodiesel made from waste kitchen oil.
Emissions: As with energy consumption, Starwood strives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020. By the end of 2015, Starwood had reduced their carbon emissions by an impressive 22.5% since 2008. They’ve had a particularly impressive decrease in emission in the North American region, where their reduction since 2008 is a whopping 30.51%.
Dining: Wherever possible, Starwood hotels source food locally and sustainably. They have a specific Seafood Sustainability plan that each individual hotel must operate under, which is especially important outside of the North American region. Select Starwood properties also grow food on-site to reduce the pollution causes by transit of food, and to keep pollutants out of the environment by using organic pesticides.
Society: Part of eco-friendliness is also being socially responsible. Starwood has partnered with UNICEF for the last twenty years to help raise money for children around the world. They’ve also initiated a Children’s Rights Assessment in Mexico, which works to protect children in the communities they serve.
Construction: All Element branded hotels are required to achieve LEED certification (or, if outside the United States, a relevant other third-party green certification). This brings their total as of 2015 to 30 LEED certified properties. They also have 72 properties certified by Green Key as eco-friendly places to stay.
Sourcing: All new supplier contracts include a corporate responsibility clause, which obliges their vendors to adhere to the same ethical and environmentally responsible standards that Starwood does. They’ve also initiated a program to track their supply chains to make sure that all steps in the process are as green as possible.