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Nothing Succeeds like Success…Building Sustainable Hotels from the ground up


In 2022, worldwide hotel operations contributed 1% to global carbon emissions, and if that doesn’t sound so bad (believe me, it is), think of it this way: 363 Million tonnes of carbon dioxide were belched annually into the atmosphere by hotels, roughly enough to power 47.5 Million homes, and making up more than half the aggregate emissions generated by global aviation ( Its relatively easy to trace the patterns of aircraft vapour trails and graphically see the problem: much more difficult to calibrate the environmental impact of another couple checking out of another hotel, jumping in a taxi, and heading off to the airport…but if we’re going to get sustainability right (and we have to), that’s exactly the sort of calculus we need to get better at, especially if we’re going to find meaningful solutions to the existential challenges posed by global warming.

So what exactly is it, lurking beneath the surface of your average hotel, that makes it half as menacing for our precious planet as a fully loaded 747?

Well, a lot of it boils down to the behaviour of guests once they’ve taken up residence. Back home, they pay for metered water and electricity, but there’s no separate line for that on their hotel bill: smart hotel operators will price energy and utility use into their cost base, but there’s no such obvious “price disincentive” for the guest. Lights are left on and water wasted, and where the operator isn’t so smart, mistaking turnover for profit, lights are left on too in empty corridors and service areas. So, while reckless operators need to head for business school, guests need to be reminded of their domestic disciplines or at least have guard rails put in place to make sure they don’t forget them altogether.

Sustainable and Successful

That goes for the guest’s mode of travel and even their diet whilst in residence: basic research will show how they most often arrive at the property, and if that’s by car, it pays to send details of local train stations and bus schedules with the booking confirmation; locally sourcing food for the hotel’s restaurant reduces transport based emissions as well, and limiting use of plastics wherever possible makes environmentally friendly choices not only possible but turns them into a no brainer…after all, more than almost anything else, this is what today’s business and recreational travellers are looking for: virtually every recent survey reports an overwhelming preference for sustainable, environmentally friendly facilities, and they’re pretty much top of any wish list when guests (78% of them) come to decide where to stay (

All of which means, of course, that a sustainable hotel is far more likely to be a successful hotel, too…

And those same sustainability guardrails can be adopted with equal success as part of the property’s own infrastructure.

Baking Sustainability in

Electricity can be generated more cheaply, and most obviously, by adding photovoltaic panels to the roof of the building, with relevant savings covering the cost of the investment over the short term (so, another no-brainer then…). Energy usage can be minimised through smart metering, and water supplies can be more accurately monitored by way of smart technologies (now in regular use as part of progressive, green building initiatives). And, of course, smart technologies will also ensure lights aren’t wastefully left on 24/7 in silent, virtually empty corridors…

Effective monitoring and benchmarking is part of the process, too: minimising the risk of so-called stranded assets (resources likely to become redundant early as the world moves away from fossil fuels), as well as maximising ESG performance across a broad spectrum of individual assets within the design process (setting, for example, meaningful KPI’s for asset outcomes). 
This matters as part of an increasingly complex dynamic as we move collectively towards the creation of long-term positive change…and within that dynamic, it’s now more possible than ever for the hotel and hospitality sector to become part of a sustainable solution…rather than part of the problem.


Red Ribbon Phoenix Green Hotel Fund ( 

The Red Ribbon Phoenix Green Hotel Fund was created to support the development and refurbishment of UK Hotels that have ESG compliance built in from the ground up, making use of a framework of proprietary technologies, including AI tech-driven platforms to monitor and reduce embodied carbon emissions during both development and operational phases. The Fund has also created a Green Hotel Charter to ensure its hotels are run responsibly and transparently.



Invest in Red Ribbon Asset ManagementRRAM-3

Red Ribbon Asset Management ( aims to harness the full potential of fast evolving and emerging technologies to meet the needs of global communities as part of a circular economy, fully recognising the compelling demands of planet people and profit.

Suchit Punnose

Suchit Punnose / About Author

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