3 Ways to Achieve Net Zero by 2050 in the Accommodation Industry

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Reducing or offsetting greenhouse gases is no longer enough: eliminating emissions is tourism’s greatest challenge. Reaching net zero by 2050 is key to limiting global temperature rise, and it tasks the hospitality industry with a huge operational transformation.

The B&B industry is hungry for resources. Its high energy and water consumption, as well as the production of waste, are responsible for around 10% of greenhouse gas emissions from tourism.

To meet decarbonization targets, accommodations must reduce their emissions by 6-7% per year. This is equivalent to eliminating residential emissions from 2.3 million homes each year. How can we get there?

1. Smarter energy, water and waste

Building new zero-carbon accommodations is not enough to sufficiently reduce emissions as many 2050 hotels have already been built. We must prioritize the decarbonization of the existing stock.

There is a double benefit to doing so. Energy, water and waste make up the bulk of emissions, and reducing them can also lower operating costs. For example, energy consumption produces 60% of a hotel’s carbon emissions and accounts for approximately 6% of operating costs.

Addressing these three big factors can reduce a home’s emissions by 32%. Not only is this a significant reduction, but most of the associated measures have a positive business case over a 15-year investment period.

Those with the greatest reduction potential include installing energy-efficient appliances in bedrooms and service areas, switching to low-flow appliances, and installing double glazing and sunshades in Windows.

Some measures go in the direction of encouraging sustainable customer behavior. For example, keycard-controlled switches to ensure lighting, heating and air conditioning only work when guests are in their rooms.

And certain measures, such as stopping the daily change of sheets and towels, and lower laundry temperatures reduce emissions and operating costs without any upfront investment. These alone are not enough to meet emissions targets, but they are an obvious starting point.

Source: Booking.comSource: Booking.com
Source: Booking.com

2. Renewable Energy

Reducing consumption is one side of the energy equation. The other is to minimize reliance on fossil fuels. Depending on the geography and specific circumstances of each individual dwelling, the most obvious first step to minimizing the carbon footprint is to purchase renewable energy from the grid.

For some properties, the opportunity to produce renewable energy on site is worth considering. For example, Meliá Serengeti Lodge in Tanzania generates 45% of its energy through solar panels (and turns waste into compost in an on-site incinerator). In the United States, Hyatt Regency Greenwich generates 75% of its energy from an on-site fuel cell, which they claim reduces carbon emissions by 40% compared to purchasing energy on-site. network.

The amortization periods for these installations depend on the local price of energy, the type of technology

employees, product features, subsidy schemes and local conditions, which might favor either wind or solar, or one or both.

3. Carbon offsetting

Carbon credits work like negative emissions; they neutralize part of a home’s carbon footprint rather than reducing it directly.

One way is to buy credits in carbon prevention programs. These finance projects that reduce third-party emissions, such as the modernization of power plants and transport structures.

Alternatively, credits can pay to increase carbon storage through biological, physical or chemical processes. For example, forests are carbon sinks; they extract carbon from the atmosphere and turn it into biomass. Some carbon credit programs monetize afforestation in exchange for cumulative emission reductions.

However, carbon offset options are currently limited. Credits can be useful during the transition phase, but, in most cases, they should not take priority over measures that hotels and other travel accommodations could implement directly.

Globally, most properties have a long way to go before they reach net zero. Examples of emerging pathways, direct government or investor support, and knowledge sharing within the industry can help, especially now that we are seeing growing awareness of the sustainability agenda among travellers. As renowned polar explorer Robert Swan once said, “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it. No single hotel or climate-conscious traveler can solve this colossal problem alone, but together we will surely get there.

* Source for all statistics/visuals EY-Parthenon Report: The Road to Net Zero, 2021

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