Cornell call for hotel sustainability benchmark participants

Help Cornell's 2nd annual benchmarking study

Help Cornell's 2nd annual benchmarking study

The Cornell University Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) is sending an industry-wide shout out for hotels to take part in their second sustainability benchmarking study.

In May the university released its landmark report - "Hotel Sustainability Benchmarking" - which compiled and analysed hospitality data in order to develop sustainability benchmarks for hotels in 30 geographic areas of China, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

With data contributed by several global hotel companies, the benchmark data collection and analysis effort focused on two key components of sustainability: energy usage and carbon emissions. The hope is that with these benchmarks in place, hotels in and near the 30 locations can see how they compare with their peers.The study is freely available for download on the CHR website.

Now the Center is calling for participants for the second annual study. Entities that own, operate, or franchise hotels and timeshares are invited to take part in this industry-wide collaboration to produce credible benchmarks using hotel-specific parameters and metrics. This year’s study seeks to publish eight benchmarks across 50 markets covering energy, water, and carbon emissions; including the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative (HCMI).

Cornell Hotel Sustainability Benchmarking (CHSB) 2015 is a collaborative effort among the Cornell University Center for Hospitality Research (CHR), the Cornell Center for Real Estate and Finance (CREF), Greenview, and an industry advisory group. Last year nine hotel companies supported the study, providing data from over 4,600 hotels globally.

This year’s call for participation is open until August 31, 2014. The second study will cover a wider range of global markets and segments, will add water to the benchmarking results, and further analyse the drivers of energy usage.

Howard Chong, Assistant Professor at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, will continue leading the data analysis and author this year’s study. “We are pleased to build upon the momentum from last year’s study and produce valuable insight for the industry on these topics as they increasingly come to the forefront of industry discussions,” said Chong. “Our goal this year is that hotel companies of all sizes will find meaningful value in contributing data, and that on a whole we can move the industry forward on improving performance.”

The value of the study will be increased if smaller and independent properties also add their data.

Participants will receive a confidential performance report for their respective portfolio that includes comparative benchmarking by market, a data validity test, and a carbon footprint generated through the HCMI, a unified calculation method. Data will be aggregated and analysed in the industry study due for publication in the spring of 2015.

Interested parties should contact Eric Ricaurte, the study’s project manager, at for further details.

"We greatly appreciated the support of the hotel firms in developing the Cornell hotel sustainability benchmarks," said Ricaurte at the launch of the first report in May. "We had monthly utility usage from nine major lodging companies with over 2,000 hotels, which allowed us to calculate detailed results for 30 geographic areas. One thing we noticed right away is that hotel benchmarks are very different from those for other commercial buildings, even on the same street." "This study builds on existing sustainability reporting efforts, such as the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative," added Chong. "With the data we had available, we could take the essential step of accounting for local climate in our sustainability benchmarks, which means that each location has its own distinct data set. But we also found that the benchmarks change according to a hotel's chain scale segment, and we even found great variations in energy use for hotels with similar attributes located in the same city. It depends on a hotel's operations and amenities."

For example the report showed the variety of energy effects resulting from different approaches to handling the laundry wash. With continued industry support, the research will be repeated annually to further expand the benchmarks and improve understanding of the different components of good hotel energy modeling. In addition to the benchmarks' value in sustainability reporting and regulatory compliance, the authors believe that the benchmarks will prove useful as a continuous improvement tool for hotel companies, and to document results of capital improvements. Meeting planners and travellers can incorporate the benchmarks into their carbon calculation for the hotel portion of their travel arrangements.

The ongoing reports should be of benefit to all hotel properties, but will become more valuable the more data is collected. We’re urging people to get involved so everyone on the sustainability journey can benefit.

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