Commercial, Energy Efficiency, GHG Emissions - July 13, 2020 - By Better Buildings
IHG'S Green Engage Program
Facing the lack of appropriate ways to manage hotel energy, water, and waste reduction for its global, franchised business environment, InterContinental Hotels Group created the IHG "Green Engage" system, a comprehensive online sustainability platform that allows hotels to track, measure and report on their carbon footprint and utility consumption, and offers more than 200 "Green Solutions" with detailed technical guidance that hotels can implement on property to deliver greater sustainability. IHG Green Engage is now foundational standard for all IHG hotels. This column from the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Buildings explains how the program was developed.
Creation and Rollout
IHG realizes that climate change is having a major impact on the hospitality industry, and that the potential costs to the business are huge, but that it also provides an incredible opportunity to make an impact. Addressing this problem is complex for a number of reasons:
- Lack of Industry Specific Tools Available: The Environmental Management System (EMS) options available to address these issues are not industry-specific, and only offer the ability to track and report on performance, without offering implementable solutions to decrease environmental impact.
- Franchised Business Model: IHG operates under a majority franchise business model. This means they have less control over most of the estate’s operations, including actions in the environmental sustainability area.
- Global Footprint: IHG’s large global footprint (+4,800 hotels) in over 100 countries means different political and cultural priorities across climate zones.
- Brand Diversity: IHG operates nine brands across different hotel segments meaning that their hotels have varied needs. For example, limited-service properties have a completely different set of resources and environmental needs than full-service properties, including a limited staffing model.
- Rising Utility Costs: Rising energy and water costs make it even more crucial for hotels to decrease consumption. Energy is typically the #2 cost for a hotel.
- Increasing Green Preferences among Guests: Research shows that over 70 percent of frequent travelers prefer hotels that are environmentally engaged. Hotels are also now being asked sustainability questions as part of key account’s requests for proposals.
In light of these issues and the potential risk and opportunity for IHG’s business, the company and its senior leaders supported the development and rollout of Green Engage, an IHG specific tool to address environmental engagement.
How Green Engage Works
Hotels input their site utility data into the IHG Green Engage system, which automatically generates reports, utility benchmarks, and a carbon footprint that allows hotels to review their progress. IHG Green Engage then provides 'Green Solutions', advising both new-build and existing hotels on specific actions they can take to reduce their impacts. These solutions cover every aspect of the hotel lifecycle from picking a suitable site, to selecting the correct lighting for the hotel, to providing staff training on sustainability. The return on investment, carbon reduction and potential impact on our guests is calculated for each action item suggested.
To both give guidance to hotels, and recognize their achievements, IHG Green Engage offers four Certification Levels ranging from easy to implement low-cost solutions, to more capital intensive, innovative actions. All IHG hotels were required to complete Level 1 certification by 2015. Properties can realize an energy savings of up to 25% when completing Level 3 Certification within the tool.
IHG works with a number of third parties to align the IHG Green Engage system activity to their requirements, including TripAdvisor's Green Leaders, Green Globes, Florida Green Lodging, the Green Tourism Certification program, and Green Key Global. IHG was the first hotel company to be approved for LEED pre-certification for new and existing buildings.
IHG promotes property participation on the IHG booking websites to publicize these accomplishments to the increasing number of frequent travelers who care about sustainability. In addition, many large corporate and government accounts include sustainability questions in the Request for Proposal (RFP) process (e.g. Global Business Travel Association RFP format). IHG Green Engage feeds directly into the RFP format and is helping hotels grow their group bookings business.
To facilitate the successful implementation of the program company-wide, IHG created the IHG Green Engage program as a web-based tool to serve as an easily accessible, user-friendly system. It is continuously updated to stay relevant and provide the best resources to hotels.
IHG Green Engage and the recommendations it makes, ‘Green Solutions’, are divided into eight key action groups:
- Operations & Processes
- Products & Materials
- Building envelope
Hotels can view their own month-by-month performance in each action group compared to industry appropriate benchmarks and their own previous year performance, then use implementation guidance, case studies from other hotels, and ROI and other financial calculations to decide which specific actions to implement on their properties.
The reporting within IHG Green Engage provides the ability to create a property specific action plan list depending on what makes sense for each property to implement, and allows each hotel to cater their reporting to their specific property needs depending on energy sources, etc. These reports allow hotels to see the data in a number of different ways, such as per occupied room, by cost, etc., to help make the most sense of their trending consumption. The tool also allows hotels to set and track against annual reduction targets.
Find more efficiency stories like this on the Better Buildings Solution Center
Better Buildings is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy designed to drive leadership in energy innovation. Through Better Buildings, DOE partners with leaders in the public and private sectors to make homes, commercial buildings, and industrial plants more energy efficient by accelerating investment and sharing of successful best practices.
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