How European hotels raise the sustainability bar

Photovoltaic panels on the Stadthalle annexe

Photovoltaic panels on the Stadthalle annexe

A surprising number of hotels in Europe entered the 2015 Green Hotelier Awards and many stood out for their commitment to sustainability, with the Boutique Hotel Stadthalle leading the field.

When Green Hotelier announced the launch of our awards in February, and opened them up for the first time to properties around the world, we had no idea how popular they would be or how many entries we’d receive. As it turned out they were very popular and half of all entries came from properties throughout Europe.

I had the privilege of reading the many and varied entries in the European category, of which ten scored very highly. Our winner the Boutique Hotel Stadthalle in Vienna, Austria stood out for their good use of renewable energy, their consideration of ways to reduce packaging, great staff policies and their programmes with local schools. Aiming to be the first city hotel with a zero energy balance, the Stadthalle added an annexe with 130m² of solar panels and 93m² of photovoltaic panels, plus a water heat pump activated by the hotel’s well. They estimate all their energy saving efforts reduce their output by 21000kg of CO2 per year and they’re pushing it even further with windmills for the roof in the planning stages.

The hotel also exercises great water stewardship and reduces pollutants with biodegradable amenities and cleaning products. When it comes to waste they’re not simply recycling but actively reducing the production of waste, for example by not providing packaged portions at breakfast and with refillable dispensers in bathrooms. They don’t sell bottles or cans anywhere in the hotel, but only recyclable glass.

As well as partnering with local charities, the hotel also works with local schools and universities sharing information on CSR and offering opportunities for student involvement, for example with upcycling projects. But their CR is not just outward facing but incorporates best practice for staff as well, with active equality and diversity programmes, staff development and a whole team breakfast.

With multiple awards for their environmental practices, including TripAdvisor GreenLeader platinum, the hotel has been justly recognised for its programmes which have been ongoing since 2000, and has grown over the years to incorporate its innovative approach to energy reduction.

Our highly commended hotels are the Inspira Santa Marta Hotel in Lisbon, and the London Heathrow Marriott. One outstanding element of the Santa Marta was their extensive waste water collection programme and on-site water bottling for guests. The hotel has good energy stewardship making use of renewable energy, an excellent programme of measuring and reducing waste, and they do lots with local charities as well as supporting Water for Life providing elephant pumps to villages in Malawi.

The London Heathrow Marriott makes best use of its roof with a solar and wind power system, as well as a greenhouse supplying ingredients to the kitchens, and rain water harvesting. They have maximum recycling capacity including of amenities via a partnership with Clean Conscience, and 100% recycling of all waste generated by the property. The hotel works hard to encourage peers and partners to be more sustainable and to raise awareness amongst guests, whilst continuing to make reductions in energy and water use.

The Hub by Premier Inn at Covent Garden earns an honourable mention despite only recently having opened. Whilst this made it hard to compare sustainability impacts with other operational hotels, the property went to incredible lengths to ensure minimum environmental impact during the development of the building, and therefore scored very highly in its application.

Of the many applications we received, ten hotels were high scoring marking at least 30 points out of a possible 40. These include the Amsterdam Marriott, Bali Paradise Beach Hotel in Crete, Croke Park Hotel Dublin, JW Marriott in Bucharest, Radisson Blu Hotel Dublin Airport and NH Ribera del Manzanares.

Some hotels are clearly leading the sustainability battle in countries where facilities are poor, for example the Luxury Apartments Utjeha, Montenegro which is making efforts to separate and reduce waste despite there being no waste separation programme within the country, and the Hotel Marriott Budapest with good community programmes and championing the Youth Career Initiative to provide opportunities for young people.

Seeing the innovative and inspiring ways hoteliers are reducing their impact on the environment whilst supporting their staff and the communities in which they’re based has been a really heart-warming experience and Green Hotelier is happy and privileged to recognise and reward their hard work. We’re pleased to highlight the activities of these hotels to encourage others to follow suit and we’ll be featuring the winners as Best Practice Case Studies over the coming weeks so you can read in more detail about all their award-winning initiatives.

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