Hotel properties: it pays to be green

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important in hotel development projects. At the same time, green investment is going mainstream, with investors paying more attention to environmental factors and recognising that sustainable development also makes good business sense. An integrated approach to planning is essential here to ensure the future success of a property. From the design stage right through to operation, a sustainable hotel is a compelling proposition.

An article by:
Martin Löcker, COO at UBM Development AG

 

It is important to distinguish between the construction process and subsequent operation of the hotel when discussing sustainability. Building work is typically carried out in accordance with the relevant standards, such as DGNB, BREEAM or LEED, and there are multiple certification levels available for the various systems. The higher the level of certification, the greater the interest from investors – because it can be assumed that the building is energy efficient and therefore sustainable.

Certificates for sustainable Operation


The main aim of the hotel operator, meanwhile, is to obtain certifications that primarily relate to day-to-day operation, i.e. energy consumption and waste prevention. The environmental credentials of the hotels operated by UBM are regularly reviewed. Six UBM hotels currently have a cloud-based energy monitoring system in place that measures energy consumption on a daily basis and compares it with historical values and readings from other hotels. Immediate intervention is possible if there are any abnormalities in the data. This monitoring system achieves significant savings and has won an award from HAMA Europe.

 

Certificates for operational activities – such as ISO and Green Globe – are mainly designed for the benefit of customers. Nowadays, major companies like Shell, BP and Nestlé ask about the environmental status of hotels before signing corporate agreements and they give preference to hotels with strong green credentials. This reflects their concern about their own environmental performance.

Example of a sustainable hotel: Holiday Inn Frankfurt Airport © Stefan Effner

Dialogue with hotel guests


We engage with guests in order to make sustainability relevant and meaningful. The issue of energy consumption is generally not at the forefront of guests’ minds, in reality. As hotel guests, do we really think about how much energy, water and resources we are using? Probably not.

 

The Holiday Inn Express Munich City West, which was developed by UBM, has been awarded a Platinum rating by the DGNB (German Sustainable Building Council) and has produced a guide for guests to encourage them to use resources in an environmentally friendly manner. The topics covered in the guide include energy, water and resource conservation, with recommendations being made for efficient and responsible behaviour. The aim is to actively involve guests in effective and efficient practices to save energy and resources, and to minimise their environmental impact.

Holiday Inn Express Munich City West © Franz Michael Moser

A look at operational costs


Finally, let’s look at some figures relating to energy consumption in hotels. Costs for electricity and water are approximately EUR 1 million per year for a conventionally built and operated four-star hotel with 25,000 square metres of usable floorspace. The guest rooms account for 30% of the electricity costs, and the proportion of costs for energy and water is 5% of total turnover. Operating costs are much lower in a carefully planned, energy efficient hotel building. This clearly shows why being green pays off when it comes to sustainable hotel properties.