Three international hotel groups were among the businesses recognised for their corporate responsibility commitments in this year’s BITC Awards.
ITP member Whitbread Plc was handed the Environmental Leadership Award  at a prestigious gala event at the O2 Arena in London this week.
The company behind brands including Premier Inn, Costa and Beefeater was recognised for its pioneering sustainability efforts within Premier Inn and Costa.
The Award recognises those companies that are growing their business value through better resource management, valuing nature and tackling climate change, and Whitbread won thanks to two new environmentally friendly building projects - the Costa Eco-Pod, the UK’s first zero energy coffee shop, and hub by Premier Inn, a new brand of compact city-centre hotels.
Featured in Green Hotelier over a year ago, hub by Premier Inn on St. Martin’s Lane in London has achieved 40% less water usage and 30% less energy usage than building regulations require, with 100% renewable energy supplying the site. Meanwhile, the Costa Eco-Pod in Telford achieves neutral energy consumption, with renewable energy created on site balancing out the cost of energy consumed. Both models are replicable at scale and are great testing grounds for pushing innovation and seeing what can be done by combining technologies together.
Alison Brittain, CEO at Whitbread said, “Whitbread’s challenge is to ensure that, as we open new hotels and coffee shops we manage our carbon footprint and minimise our energy usage, water consumption and production of waste. I’m delighted that we’ve won this award which recognises the innovative and tremendous work our teams are doing to build a more sustainable business and set a standard of environmental leadership for the hospitality sector.”
The Award judges said, “Whitbread have demonstrated exceptional leadership and dedication to address environmental challenges with a clear business case. Their innovative approach to smart growth is clearly leading to commercial benefits and the potential scale of impact is enormous to influence the wider retail industry. Within a hugely competitive market, Whitbread has sustainability as its USP. This is clearly creating value and guaranteeing the future prosperity of the business.”
Chair of the judging panel, Karen Todd, Senior Manager Zero Waste, ASDA Stores Ltd who sponsored the award, said, “This is clearly a business that it is ensuring it is fit for the future, demonstrating true environmental leadership by collaborating with key stakeholders and sharing best practice to influence the wider business community to take action.”
Meanwhile, IHG – InterContinental Hotels Group – was a finalist in the UPS International Disaster Relief Award for their Shelter in a Storm programme. Recognising that during times of crisis and disaster, hotels can act as a beacon in the storm that people naturally gravitate to, IHG mobilises the full resources of its hotels around the world to support communities, guests and employees in areas affected by disasters. The group has delivered direct, vital support to people affected by 70 disasters in 28 countries beyond the UK, and has supported the relief efforts of 18 humanitarian agencies, helping them to accelerate their response through financial and in kind support.
We’ve reported on the programme and the efforts of its colleagues to raise money for the Shelter Fund on many occasions. You can learn more here .
Finally, NH Hotels was shortlisted for the prestigious Responsible Business of the Year Award . NH was recognised for its approach which has seen the group integrate its corporate responsibility commitments into every part of the business.
Green Hotelier has covered many of the company’s initiatives and results but standout aspects include:
Since 2007 NH Hotel Group has reduced its carbon footprint by 69.4%, energy consumption by 26.4% and water consumption by 30.6%. Through its participation in the 'Cork to Cork' programme the Group has produced 8,000 m2 of cork for insulation, soundproofing and lining, and 78% of its hotels in Germany, Spain and Italy use renewable energy resources.
The Group ensures that all its suppliers are assessed for environmental management, climate change, carbon footprint reduction, responsible consumption of resources and use of recycled materials.
NH Hotels aims to lead the sector in corporate social responsibility, creating shared value at an economic, social, and environmental level wherever its business is present.
As well as their commitment to employee development, their award-winning Hotels with Heart programme and their support for employee volunteering, NH was recognised for its development of international training, apprenticeship and employment programmes for young people at risk of social exclusion and for the disabled. Last year, 647 students developed technical and personal skills through voluntary coaching and support from NH Group staff. Each year, training in the catering sector at 53 hotels over the world is provided to more than 400 young people at risk of social exclusion via ITP’s Youth Career Initiative programme.
Federico J. González Tejera, CEO of NH Hotel Group said, “NH Hotel Group is the result of sound values and beliefs, brave decisions, and the enthusiasm and effort of thousands of committed employees. It is a Group that follows the strictest ethical principles and that integrates sustainability and social concerns into its daily activities. It is a Company that encourages dialogue with its stakeholders and provides solutions to the needs and issues it faces.
“Our responsible business approach relies on the commitment and willingness to continue building value for the Company, its shareholders, customers, employees and society in general.”
The recognition for these companies in the Responsible Business Awards once again highlights the fact that the hotels sector is leading the way for businesses to work for a fairer society and a more sustainable future.