The concept of sustainability has evolved from being simply a duty to a conscious and deliberate effort in every industry in the world. While the world grows in population and therefore, demand, people now also becoming are more aware about the environmental, social and ecological impact they are creating through to their actions. The need for organisations to turn to sustainable practices is thus now a necessity for their survival in the market.
The hospitality industry, like every other industry, is also beginning to turn towards sustainable practices to make room for the concept of “green consumerism”. The hospitality sector traditionally partakes in a myriad of non-ecofriendly practices through high energy consuming HVAC systems, fuel, light and other power-intensive needs. Waste generation in the hospitality industry is also high due to disposal of outdated furniture, equipment, appliances as well as simple elements like bulbs, paper and batteries. The need for the industry as a whole to turn towards greener practices has never been more important.
Over time, hoteliers have begun to realise that the benefits of shifting to sustainable measures are higher in the long run. The biggest long term advantage to the industry by shifting to sustainable mechanisms is the reduction in cost. Hotels are some of the highest energy consuming establishments with 24*7 lighting and air conditioning requirements. Through the utilisation of energy conserving appliances as well as the smart incorporation of natural light and ventilation into the hotel layout, hotels are able to cut down on a substantial amount of operational costs, but a major chunk still remains. While cost savings are a driving force behind decisions regarding turning to sustainability, economic incentives also play a big role in the implementation of sustainable measures in the industry. Government’s support towards the green movement is showcased in the form of tax deductions and quick regulatory permissions granted, among others. Apart from this, considering the growth of sustainability has become a trend in the market today, such measures are often seen as a way to promote a positive brand image. Especially by catering to the “woke” millennial generation who are environmentally and socially active about their carbon footprints, sustainability in the industry is perceived as a great point in favour of the brand. This eventually leads to greater hotel profits in the long run.
Earlier, the belief was that to become ecologically sound was an expensive initiative and customers rarely cared about the sustainability measures of hospitality establishment. However, with people becoming more and more aware about their footprint on the environment, both these notions are now a myth. Sustainable measures arenow implemented from the grassroots of a hospitality project through the hands of architects and interior designers. This has led to some very interesting trends in the industry today. The most prominent trend is the usage of local materials instead of importing them to reduce the ecological footprint. Designers now use natural and locally available materials to reduce their strain on imports thereby also providing a more holistic experience to the project in terms of depiction of culture. Customers get a better feel and sense of the place which they are visiting, hence leading to an enhanced overall experience. Apart from natural materials, designers now also use natural ventilation to reduce the usage of energy consuming devices like air conditioners or fans. Through the utilisation of big windows and intelligent placement of vents and openings, designers have shifted focus to the importance of proper cross ventilation instead of sole dependency on electrical appliances. Large windows also allow ways to capture the natural light for illumination over usage of electricity for the same purpose. Switching to renewable sources for energy is another way to bring sustainability into the projects. Intelligent combinations of different forms of unconventional energies can not only supply energy but also add to the aesthetic beauty of the project. For example, solar cells can be utilised to design a novel greenhouse in the main garden of a resort. Designers and architects have had to think out-of-the-box in order to reduce the footprint left by their designs and cleverly incorporate sustainable measures into their layouts all without compromising on the visual beauty of the project.
To conclude, the hospitality industry has three main stakeholders—the customers, their employees and the government—and being sustainable gives them a way to provide a superior service while reducing cost without compromising on the feeling of luxury to any their stakeholders. To the customers, it provides a superior experience through an immersive cultural experience without uprooting the environment around them too much. To the employees, sustainability imbibes in them a sense of ecological responsibility, which motivates them to be more productive and engaged in their jobs as well as carry these progressive ideas into their personal lives. To the government, sustainable measures through this industry act as an example to impose basic sustainability measures in other industries of the economy.