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How to make your hotel more environmentally friendly

Posted by Ilona Wallace on Sep 13, 2016 8:30:00 AM

Imagine if your hotel could look after the environment and, at the same time, save money and make your guests happier! It’s not so far-fetched, believe me.

The below suggestions are ordered from biggest change to smallest steps. Some of the more ambitious choices will not be possible for some businesses – perhaps the building is leased, so you can’t make significant changes to its look or wiring; perhaps the costs are prohibitive at the moment – but it’s good to be aware of your options so that, should circumstances change, you know where to start.

Brighter Buildings


A photo posted by @hotelzumsaenger on

Did you know about the “urban heat island” effect? This happens when buildings are constructed from, and surrounded by, materials that absorb heat. Asphalt and dark building facades, for example. The urban heat island effect is a problem, as it decreases air quality and disrupts the natural climate – in China and India, this phenomenon has been linked to a 30% increase in climate warming! Scary stuff.

If you’re a building owner, or have flexible terms on your lease, the first thing you can do is make sure your building façade is a light color. No black or dark gray paint, please. Lighter shades reflect, rather than absorb, sunlight. Depending on how effective your insulation is, this simple change could also cut down on your heating and cooling bills.

Greener Gardens

If you have a flat roof, you could convert this into a green roof. Or, if the roof is unsuitable, you could explore options for a green wall down one side of your building.

How about a kitchen garden? In the long run, this will also save your hotel restaurant money.

Why not replace fake plants with real ones? Fake plants don’t have the same soothing powers that real ones do – it’s been researched, and plants can make you happier (and smarter)! That’s guests and staff, too. Broad-leaved plants are best; check out NASA’s handy guide for options.

Avoid putting flowers in customers’ rooms. While it’s a lovely gesture, and keeps the room fresh, there’s a possibility that guests may be allergic to pollen – and the last thing you want is a newly arrived guest having to leave with hay fever.

Renewable Energy

If possible, consider getting your electricity from a green source. Many mainstream suppliers also have green options; all you have to do is ask.

Depending on where your hotel is, and what sort of climate you live in, you may be able to install solar panels or even a wind turbine – but you’d have to check for planning permission.

Better Bulbs

If you can’t bring in solar panels, wind turbines, a new coat of paint or greenery, you could start by making the simple switch to energy-saving light globes.

These may be a little more expensive than old incandescent globes, but they last a lot longer and use a fraction of the electricity – which means you ultimately save money.

Keep in mind that energy-saving globes may take a little longer to “warm up”, so if you’re using them in a dining room or foyer, make sure they’re turned on far enough in advance that your guests aren’t arriving into gloom.

Chain of Supply

If you’re serious about going green from top to tail, or you need a small place to start, one of the best things to do is check your chain of supply.
  • Is the hotel restaurant sourcing ingredients from sustainable and ethical farms?
  • Do cleaning and kitchen staff use disposable paper towels where reusable cloths could be considered?
  • Are the chairs and tables throughout your venue made from sustainable wood?
  • Are disposables – such as bin liners and toilet tissue – sourced from responsible suppliers?

Think About Usage

Usage can be by staff or guests. By no means should you harass your guests, and I doubt a strict “lights off” curfew for energy-saving purposes would be well received. However, there are small things you can do to help your guests help the environment.
  • In the bathroom, post a small sign asking that guests be conscious of their water use. Provide a shower timer if you like (many guests won’t use it, but some will!).
  • Suggest that guests reuse their towels, rather than put them out to be washed every day.
  • Give your guests and staff the option to recycle/compost their rubbish.
  • Consider changing the linen laundry schedule to be more mindful of water (and chemical) use.
  • Ask yourself if a guest really needs four lamps in a single room...

There are loads of resources online for learning how to “green” a hotel. Boutique eco-friendly hotels are also growing in popularity and can demand a premium price from environmentally conscious guests.

What change might you make to become a green hotel?


Inspired to change the design in your business? Come see Fady Hachem of Hachem architects and designers at Typsy Live in Sydney on October 5th! He will be speaking about how you can be innovative when designing or revamping your hospitality venue. 

Check out the trailer below and then book your tickets here


Topics: Hospitality operations, Health and wellbeing, Hotels