New sustainability study from Cornell examines biggest and smallest components of a hotel’s carbon footprint

Cornell Sustianability Report

Determining Materiality in Hotel Carbon Footprinting: What Counts and What Does Not

In response to stakeholder and customer requests, hotel companies are developing mechanisms to communicate to guests their "carbon footprint", or the quantifiable environmental impact of their operations. The industry is seeking common guidance on how calculations can be performed uniformly. A new report from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) supports this issue by analyzing the materiality of two carbon sources, fugitive coolant emissions and the use of fuels for hotel-owned vehicles. The report, "Determining Materiality in Hotel Carbon Footprinting: What Counts and What Does Not," by Eric Ricaurte, is available at no charge from the CHR.

"Hotels look to utilize technical guidance from many external authorities as they determine and report their carbon footprints," said Ricaurte, a sustainability consultant and CHR research associate. "But this guidance is complex and can be contradictory when applied to hotel operations. I studied the materiality, or significance, of hotel carbon emissions from coolant and mobile fuel based on data from 154 hotels in 25 countries. What I found is that neither source appears to be material for most hotels. That's not quite the final word, because those factors may be material for an individual hotel under certain circumstances."

The study seeks to fill technical research gaps identified through sustainability roundtables and the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative. Ricaurte's report also discusses the current practices in corporate carbon reporting, including those developed by such hotel firms as Accor and InterContinental Hotels Group.

Fran Hughes from the International Tourism Partnership will be attending the 2012 Cornell Sustainability Roundtable in November so watch this space for news from that discussion.

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