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As the world continues to modernize, the environment suffers. Trees are cut down to give way for the latest commercial and/ or residential areas. The results of deforestation have been deadly over the last decades were floods and landslides brought about disasters in the homes of thousands of families. Campaigns that promote the restoration and preservation of the environment have risen over the years.
Different organizations have supported such through their corporate social responsibility programs but there are some that go a step further. This paper will examine Marriott International Hotel Group’s efforts in sustaining the environment.
The individual operation of a hotel will be the focus of this paper because by studying the activities of Marriott in their campaign to go green the hotel chain’s strategies implemented can be a learning lesson for someone who is in the hospitality and tourism industry. Marriott International has won several awards in terms of their environmental sustainability programs over the past decades.
The JW Marriott in Indianapolis has been awarded the Emerging Green Award which was presented by the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) last November 9, 2011 at the Washington Hilton Hotel (JW Marriott Indianapolis Wins Green Award, 2011).
“To be considered for the award, the hotel had to document all steps taken to lessen its environmental impact such as buying and using environmentally friendly products, having ongoing training in environmental policies and practices and encouraging the use of low-impact transportation for guests and employees” (JW Marriott Indianapolis Wins Green Award, 2011).
There are a few challenges in environmental sustainability programs especially in the hospitality and tourism industry. In order to build hotels, trees are cut down as they are being used to build facilities. Sometimes deforestation occurs to give way for hotels and country clubs to be built on. It is a challenge for hotel engineers and architects to lessen the cutting down of trees in building facilities.
Another challenge in the hotel industry with regards to environmental sustainability campaigns is the monitoring of power, gas and water usages. The hotel management can discipline and monitor the consumption of electricity, gas and water of hotel staff but it is very difficult for them to monitor the usages of hotel guests.
The management can only put notes in hotel rooms to inform guests of conserving resources but they cannot impose such on the latter thus it is difficult to monitor the consumption of natural resources. Lastly, the challenge of reusing and recycling materials to prevent environmental harm and wastage has been a constant obstacle for any company in any given industry.
In the hospitality sector, it is a challenge to reuse and recycle materials because guests and customers may complain about unsanitary practices which may harm the branding of the hotel but it is essential to note that as long as procedures are followed through management can push through with their environmental campaigns.
Opportunities for growth are endless especially in terms of environmental sustainability in the hospitality industry. For Marriott international, opportunities can be seen in the constant development and expansion of the company’s corporate social responsibility sector.
Over the years the company has hosted programs such as their rainforest preservation program and the green buildings program (Sustainability Report, 2009). Marriott has set out goals to further improve its participation in preserving the environment.
These goals include the reduction of energy and water consumption by 25% per room by 2012, expansion of the green hotel development in 5 years time, conversion of Marriott’s $10 billion supply chain to green, educate and inspire not only associates but also guests to support environmental programs and address environmental obstacles through innovative conservation initiatives like the rainforest protection and water conservation (Sustainability Report, 2009).
Jonas Lang LaSalle predicted that by 2012 there would be 4 environmental sustainability trends that would persist. These trends would shape the sustainable development movement are transparency, global consistency, public/ private collaboration and focus on solar energy (Four Sustainability Trends to Watch in 2012, 2012).
Transparency includes measurement and disclosure of information relating to sustainability such as energy consumption and carbon emission.
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“In 2011, more than 3,000 companies, including 404 Global 500 firms, voluntarily reported their carbon emissions, water management and climate change policies to Carbon Disclosure Project in 2011, perhaps swayed by CDP’s 551 investor members, who use the information in deciding where to place more than $71 trillion in investment capital” (Four Sustainability Trends to Watch in 2012, 2012).
Global consistency includes the development and standardization of a framework in understanding the effectiveness of environmental sustainability strategies adopted and implemented by different firms globally.
“Consistent measurement is important to corporations as they focus on sustainability not only in their own operations but, increasingly, throughout their supply chain as well” (Four Sustainability Trends to Watch in 2012, 2012). The collaboration of the public and private sector is an expected trend in 2012 and for future years to come.
In the past year, 2011, we have seen both government and business organizations collaborate in sharing and realizing their green goals. It is in theses collaborative initiatives that obstacles to sustainability are best overcame for both agencies possess their own strengths which may be beneficial in the collaboration. Lastly focus on solar energy will be the last perceived trend in 2012.
Jones Lang LaSalle predicts that by 2012 solar powered devices will take over the market. These devices will affect supply and demand economics paving way to technological advancements and organizations will take advantage of this innovation by creating incentives.
Global Perspective: Hospitality Industry Going Green
In 1996, the World Travel and Tourism Council together with the World Tourism Organization and the Earth Council developed the global environmental certification program for the hospitality and tourism industry. This program identifies environmental sustainability issues that threaten the economy as well as the ecological balance of the community.
It presents recommendations and strategies on how to transition to more sustainable development practices. Environmental friendly practices are encouraged by hotel companies. They are “embracing sustainability practices through all their developmental and operational strategies”.
It is a trend in the hotel industry to go environmentally friendly thus initiatives such as educational programs, reforestation programs, eco-resorts, energy efficient practices and developmental projects that build infrastructures that comply with environmental friendly standards enable the hotel industry to adopt practices that are related to sustainability more conveniently.
“Over the last decade, the movement towards ecologically sound tourism has swept across the globe; and the practices being implemented are as diverse as the different geographies. Hotel companies are being prompted by rising energy costs, government pressure, consumer expectations and the competitive landscape to increasingly make sustainability a top priority” (Hospitality Going Green, 2009).
Ten Eco-Friendly Hospitality Companies
Below is a list of the top 10 eco-friendly hospitality companies with their corresponding platforms with regards to eco-friendly practices and environmental conservation and sustainability programs (Environmental Mission Statements: A List of Hotel Sustainability Policies, 2010).
- Kimpton Hotels & Restaurant Group – The company has an environmental program called Eathcare where every hotel and restaurant adopts environmental friendly products at the same time they religiously practice recycling among its chains. – Corporate Philanthropy.
- Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company – The company has created the Ritz-Carlton Environmental Action Conservation Teams (REACT) to deliver its objective in conserving the environment. The team is responsible for implementing eco-friendly practices to minimize environmental imprint of the hotel chain. REACT primarily works on projects aimed to restore native plants, protect endangered species and clean beaches and roadsides. – Corporate Philanthropy.
- Intercontinental Hotel Group – They created a program called Green Engaged where their objective is to reduce energy, water and waste, cutting carbon emissions, and raising guest and staff awareness of sustainable issues. They have partnered with National Geographic in educating people on environmental issues. –Corporate Philanthropy.
- Fairmount Hotels and Resorts – Created the Green Partnership Program which minimizes “property operational impacts on the environment through resource conservation and best practices”. – Corporate Philanthropy.
- Marriott International, Inc. – The hotel chain’s environmental goals are to decrease water and energy consumption by 25% per room by 2017, create green construction standards for hotel developers, educate partners, staff and guests about environmental issues and invest in conservation initiates such as the rainforest protection and water conservation. Corporate Philanthropy.
- Omni Hotels and Resorts – The company is heavily practicing recycling, conserves energy by promoting hybrid and other energy efficient technologies, utilize eco-friendly products, reduce carbon footprints, create green roofs and plant more trees and water supplies. Corporate Philanthropy.
- Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. – The company has created an environmental sustainability policy aimed at conserving natural resources, minimizing waste and pollution, enhancing indoor environmental quality, establishing and reporting on key environmental performance indicators and educating associates, guests and communities on environmental issues. Corporate Philanthropy.
- Wyndham Worldwide Corporation – They created a program called Wyndham Green where they aim to develop environmental programs, products and services, set and measure environmental impact targets, and comply with climate policies and environmental laws. Corporate Philanthropy.
- McDonald’s – The fast food chain aims to help the environment improving waste management and sustainable packaging, conserving energy and having green restaurant designs. – Corporate Philanthropy.
- Lifetime Gym – The gym’s sustainability initiatives involve sustainable carpeting, designing a green building, energy and water conservation, recycling and promoting the use of environmental friendly products and services. – Corporate Philanthropy.
Marriott Environmental Campaign
Marriott Hotels International has been one of most active hotel organizations in terms of the preservation of the environment. The company pays attention to the quality and services its managements provides. It pays much attention to sourcing locally grown products and encourages its associates, staff and guests to minimize their impact on the environment by conserving energy, gas and water.
Marriott Hotels International promotes among its staff and guests the proper way of disposing garbage, conserving energy and traveling and/ or working in the most environmental friendly way an individual can. Among Marriott’s eco-friendly programs include “Marriott’s linen and towel reuse program which aims to conserve water and energy and minimize the release of detergent chemicals to the environment.
The environment is an everyday consideration at Marriott, say staff, returning a positive green score of 81% on this point in our employee survey. They say the green credentials of the organization influenced their decision to work here (50%, and a top 15 ranking) and acknowledge that it is younger colleagues who are driving environmental change (62%, with just seven firms scoring better).
Marriott’s eco-friendly practices include providing eco pillows, recyclable key cards and coreless toilet rolls, and producing up to 20% of its own electricity” (Best Green Companies, 2011).
In March 2010, another Marriott branch in Portsmouth launched its latest recycling scheme where the hotel aims to recycle 98% of wastes produced (Portsmouth: Marriott recycles 98% of waste, 2010). The hotel has collaborated with local recycling experts such as ACM Waste Management plc and PDM Group to make such program a success.
In this recycling scheme all the hotel’s waste food products will be recycled. This program is first implemented in Portsmouth but will soon be adopted by other hotel branches. Aside from this new recycling program, Marriott has implemented other processes in recycling. This included the placing of recycling bins in guest rooms and meeting rooms.
All hotel staffs are trained to separate biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes ((Portsmouth: Marriott recycles 98% of waste, 2010). Marriott’s Environmentally Conscious Hospitality Operations program is the hotel chain’s sustainability plan where it focuses on the conservation of water and energy, activities concerning clean air, recycling, wildlife preservation and cleaning up neighborhoods.
“Through this program, it replaced 450,000 incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent lighting, introduced linen re-use systems, and installed 400,000 low-flow showerheads and toilets at its hotels worldwide. Marriott has also reduced water usage by more than 15% over the last five years through the said program” (Marriott International Inc, USA and Global Tourism Business Award Winner, 2009).
Marriott Hotel International commits to ensure that business activities and practices of the company will be properly managed so as to have minimal impact on the environment. The company guarantees that the operations of the hotel chain will comply with all statutory regulations concerning the environment.
Marriott’s environmental action plan for 2010 includes the increase of recycling practices to reduce wastages, the improvement of energy management systems and awareness to reduce the consumption of power and gas, the installation of flow reducing devices to reduce water consumption, the investment of compact fluorescent lamps and replacement of existing Dichronic Halogen lamps to reduce energy consumption and the establishment of a green team to help implement energy saving initiatives.
In its use of technology Marriott was named “Top 12 Green IT Companies by the Computer World magazine in 2009 (Marriott Wins Big Reward by Going Hi-Tech and Low Energy, 2009).
“Marriott developed an underground data center to take advantage of a naturally cool environment to reduce power consumption in the IT arena. The company also uses server virtualization and desktop power management policies.
Additionally, so far Marriott has recycled more than 28,761 IT assets, diverting 629,408 pounds of waste from landfills, according to the release” (Marriott Hotel Industry Continue Green Push, 2009).
Marriott has also stopped its automatic newspaper drop program to guests’ bedroom but instead the management asks guests which newspaper they wish to read during their stay. The hotel chain also offers its guests the option to support their green stay program where an additional $1 a day will be billed to hotel guests (Marriott Hotel Industry Continue Green Push, 2009).
The hotel chain also expressed its plans to expand their green hotels program by 1000% in November 2009. This program includes the revamping of Marriott’s hotels to environmental friendly designs (Marriott Plans to Expand Green Hotels by 1000%, 2009). Marriott Hotel International also adopted a smoke-free hotel policy where it provides its guests a smoke free environment.
“The smoke-free hotel policy has received praise from guests, and Marriott remains committed to achieving a smoke-free environment in all of its properties in the U.S. and Canada. The continuing efforts of these properties to comply with the smoke-free policy reinforce Marriott’s commitment to being an environmentally friendly company” (The Marriott Smoke-free Hotel Policy, 2012).
Marriott Hotel International has been actively involved in the preservation of the environment. The hotel chain has trained its associates and staff of eco-friendly practices to adopt in proving services to clients and guests. Staffs are trained to conserve energy, gas and water.
They are also educated in separating wastages from biodegradable to non-biodegradable. Hotel staffs are well aware of practices which may benefit the environment thus the success of Marriott not only lies with their environmentally aware manpower but also in their constant innovative programs and strategies to minimize the hotel chain’s impact on the environment.
The corporate social responsibility team of Marriott International Hotel has been actively participating in the conservation of the ecosystem. Marriott has been developing programs such as the reusing of linens and towels by guests to conserve electricity from washing them as well as water.
This program also minimizes the use of detergents to flush out in the environment. Aside from training and educating its staffs and associates, Marriott also holds programs where it helps in reviving rainforests especially in Brazil. The company has contributed so much in terms of saving the environment. It has also started renovating existing hotels with a new environmentally friendly “green” design.
Environmental sustainability is very important especially in the hospitality and tourism industry because we are marketing sceneries for guests to relax. With the destruction of the environment, traveling will be a hassle especially with the constant change of weathers. Hotels in the tropics especially those located near beaches would always suffer from tsunamis.
On the other hand hotels located in areas where forests have been victimized by illegal logging and deforestation would constantly suffer from flash floods and landslides. It is important to sustain our environment to preserve the eco-system.
As someone who is part of the hotel and tourism business, I have observed that the weather and climate as well as the environment play important roles in marketing and packaging hotels and vacations.
Clients want to visit places that are beautiful. Most people whether they are staying in a hotel for vacation or for business prefer the ambiance of nature. Whether they are surrounded by trees or the ocean, it is a big and major factor where hotels are located.
It is important to preserve the environment for it affects all industries. In the hospitality and tourism industry the environment plays a big role in the planning and decision making of customers and guests. It is important that each company must be aware of environmental issues and address them through simple deeds such as the conservation of power, water and gas.
Employees must be trained to conserve resources and practice proper waste disposal. It is also important that companies constantly improve corporate social responsibility programs to further adapt to changes in the environment and address issues through CSR programs. Marriott International Hotel is a great example of a hotel chain with a solid environmental sustainability program.
Best Green Companies. (2011). Web.
Environmental Mission Statements: A List of Hotel Sustainability Policies. (2010). Web.
Four Sustainability Trends to Watch in 2012. (2012). Web.
Hospitality Going Green. (2009). Web.
JW Marriott Indianapolis Wins Green Award. (2011). Web.
Marriott Hotel Industry Continue Green Push. (2009). Web.
Marriott International Inc, USA and Global Tourism Business Award Winner. (2009). Web.
Marriott Plans to Expand Green Hotels by 1000%. (2009). Web.
Marriott Wins Big Reward by Going Hi-Tech and Low Energy. (2009). Web.
Portsmouth: Marriott recycles 98% of waste. (2010). Web.
Sustainability Report. (2009). Web.
The Marriott Smoke-free Hotel Policy. (2012). Web.