Andrew Cosslett

Position - CEO, InterContinental Hotels Group

Background

Andrew Cosslett has been CEO of IHG since February 2005. He joined from Cadbury Schweppes, where he spent 14 years in marketing and general management occupying a variety of roles, including chairman of Cadbury Schweppes Australia, CEO of the Asia Pacific confectionery business, managing director of Great Britain and Ireland and President of Europe Middle East and Africa. Before joining Cadbury Schweppes, Andrew spent 11 years with Unilever PLC.

Andrew is on the executive committee of the World Travel and Tourism Council and on the president's committee of the CBI. He has a BA (Econ) Hons and MA degree from the University of Manchester.

Andrew discusses IHG

As the world’s largest hotel company, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is looking very strongly at how it can address both the challenges and opportunities of creating a sustainable hotel business.

With over 4,400 hotels globally, we have a big responsibility to make a positive difference to the environment — a small change across all of our hotels can have a significant impact. We also have a duty to our hotel owners and it is important that we prove to them that sustainably managed hotels are good for business.

The best way to manage our impact on the planet and our costs is through innovation and collaboration. That’s why we’ve been working continuously over the past few years to improve our understanding of what a green hotel is and how we should develop it.

One of the innovations we’re most proud of is Green Engage, an online sustainability measurement system that helps hotels manage their energy, water and waste more effectively. It can generate huge environmental and cost benefits, saving 15% to 25% on energy use alone, for example.

Reducing water consumption is one of the key areas of Green Engage. Water scarcity already affects many parts of the world, and climate change will exacerbate the problem. Population growth is also a factor: according to the United Nations, approximately 60% of the world’s population will be affected by water shortages by 2025.

Water conservation is becoming a big issue for the industry. Our research shows that we can help an average hotel in temperate zones conserve between 10% and 20% of its water usage. When these reductions are replicated across our global hotel family, the opportunity to reduce our environmental impact and costs is significant. Improving our water performance will also help to cut energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

To achieve this, we need to not only measure and monitor our water use but also to manage it. That’s where Green Engage can assist, offering advice on water-efficient fixtures and appliances, water collection, treatment and re-use and irrigation.

Showers, toilets, taps and kitchens are the biggest users of water in a hotel, accounting for typically 85% of overall water consumption. Low-flow fixtures, such as taps and showerheads, are a huge step forward in water-conservation efforts and can generate big savings. Our Holiday Inn on Flinders in Melbourne, Australia, recouped its USD $19,500 investment in low-flow technology after only 18 months and cut water usage by 50%.

Laundry is another significant consumer of water in our hotels. New technology is revolutionising the process. The move to ozone-based washing, for instance, not only reduces water consumption but also energy usage as it eliminates the need for hot water.

A pilot ozone laundry study in Crowne Plaza Coogee Beach, Australia, showed savings in water use of 40%, resulting in energy and labour savings of USD $111,000. Based on these findings, eight hotels in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific have installed or are installing ozone laundry systems and other properties in the Asia Pacific will be following suit.

Some of the most desirable tourist hot spots in the world are also those most affected by water shortages. That includes French Polynesia, the location of the InterContinental Bora Bora. Here we’ve been able to reduce the amount of water used by installing an innovative air-conditioning system that deploys a 2,440-metre pipe, the deepest ocean pipe in the world. The pipe uses ice-cold, deep-sea water to power the air conditioning throughout the hotel.

Our guests also have a significant contribution to make in our efforts to reduce our environmental impact, not only by demanding greener hotels but also by making sustainable choices during their stay, such as opting to reuse towels and bed linen and recycling newspapers and other paper products. And, increasingly, our guests not only want but expect hotels to run their operations with environmental principles at the core, without compromising on modern comforts or luxuries. During their stay, guests can make a difference and, through Green Engage, we recommend ways that our hotels can engage guests to help conserve resources, including using signs, literature and helpful front-of-house staff to draw attention to our efforts. We also encourage our hotels to promote sustainably run businesses, activities and alternative means of transport so that guests’ environmentally conscious choices have an impact on the local economy.

We’ve made a good start, but there is still a significant amount to do. We’re in a position now where we have the tools to achieve much more as we continue to introduce Green Engage to our properties. Our journey to create a sustainable future for our business and the environment is well on its way.

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