How To Get Started - Tools For Success
It is evident that there are a number of
benefits to going green, many of which
increase your bottom line as well as your
The questions remain then, how to get
started? and what are the tools to success?
There are eight key components to
establishing a program to effectively green
- Identify a green coordinator/champion.
- Set a baseline to focus your efforts and measure future success.
- Engage your staff.
- Set an action plan.
- Elect a Green Team to run the program in-house.
- Write an Environmental Policy Statement.
- Train employees.
- Benchmark your efforts.
1. Identify a green coordinator champion
In order for any environmental program to
be successful, the first step is nominating
someone in the organization as being
responsible for it.
Some potential choices for this role would
be the general manager or other senior
management or executive staff within the
In addition to the green coordinator, the
hotel must also have an environmental
coordinator to facilitate carrying out the
The environmental coordinator would
primarily be responsible for:
- Organizing the Green Team.
- Coordinating environmental audits for
water, waste, energy, carbon emissions
Monitoring of performance against
The environmental coordinator is crucial
to the success of the program as they
will assume the role of program manager,
information gatherer, communicator,
motivator and ambassador to guests and
clients (Fairmont, 2002).
Six Senses Hotels and Resorts operating out
of Thailand, dedicates three people, a Social
and Environment coordinator, an engineer
and an environmental analyst to administer
sustainable policies. At the property level, each
resort has a full-time Social and Environment
coordinator to lead the property's sustainability
initiatives (Ernst and Young, 2008).
Setting a baseline - departmental audits
Departmental audits are essential to
determining where you should focus your
efforts. To set future goals, it is imperative
to have a clear understanding of the hotel's
current position in terms of resource use
by department. Therefore, it is essential
to audit how much energy and water is
consumed, as well as how much and what
type of waste is generated. All operations
generate green house gases (GHG), and
as carbon emissions are increasingly
being used as a measure of efficiency,
this could be incorporated as an indicator
in your audits. It can be built as part of
your environmental audits or conducted
separately as a GHG inventory report done
by a carbon management firm.
Measurement and benchmarking is
crucial to the success of an environmental
program. You must to know what you use
and produce before you can reduce it!
Departments that need to be audited are:
- General management
- Grounds and recreation
- Kitchen and food and beverage outlets
- Front desk
It is also good practice to ensure that the
measurements are tracked against the
established goals on a regular basis by
each department and there is a central
tracking system which consolidates all the
data for analysis.
Annual reports indicating the baseline and
progress made towards achieving your
goals will communicate your efforts to
internal and external stakeholders and keep
the departments on track.
3. Determining staff support
Without the support of the employees, an
environmental program will rarely succeed.
It is imperative to engage and consult with
employees before starting and during the
development and implementation phase
of an environmental program. Employees
also have a better understanding of the
areas where savings can occur and of small
improvements that have the potential to
make a big difference.
With advice from your employees, you
will get a better understanding of both
the environmental issues within your
property and of your employee's concerns,
interest and passions. As an example, in
some areas waste management might
be a common concern, whereas in other
locations, water conservation and air quality
may be an issue.
Begin with an ideas campaign, and get
employees excited about being able to provide
suggestions for the environmental program.
It will also help if you can give incentives for
the best ideas related to reducing the hotel's
overall environmental impact.
Consulting your employees is a great
starting point for your environmental
program and gives employees a sense of
empowerment and ownership. It will make
them proud to work at your hotel.
4. Setting an action plan
In order to achieve results, goals should be
set on an annual basis. Using the audit as a
baseline, the goals should be attainable and
For example, a goal such as "Reduce
energy consumption where possible" is
a great idea, but much too vague to be
practical. A clearer and more suitable action
plan would be to "Replace all incandescent
light bulbs with compact fluorescents
wherever possible" or to create "a policy
that all housekeeping staff keep all window
drapes closed and lights turned off when
a room is not in use." This can then be
translated into meaningful and measurable
goals, such as percentage reduction in
a year, and also how much money that
reduction has saved.
Specific and attainable action plans are
much easier to monitor in terms of project
completion and cost savings.
In order to get you on track with the action
Choose goals in the first year that are
easily attainable. An example is setting
all printers to double-sided printing.
Keep track of all the cost savings
measures. It will be easier to justify
bigger expenses in energy conservation.
By phasing in an environmental program
and choosing easily attainable goals with
quick wins which have a major impact,
it is easier to keep on track and find the
money to invest in bigger projects. Seeing
results should increase senior management
support and generate employee enthusiasm.
5. Electing a green committee or
Once the support and enthusiasm of the
employees is gained and an action plan
identified, it is imperative to assemble a team to
run the new environmental program in-house.
Establishing an environmental committee or
"Green Team" is essential to the success of an
environmental program. It is also just as important
to find a group of enthusiastic employees who are
passionate about environmental issues. Finding
a Green Champion from senior management
is necessary for the Green Team's success.
Some considerations when selecting a
Green Team are:
- Technical expertise in areas such as
operations, engineering and purchasing.
Departmental representation such as front
desk, food and beverage, housekeeping
Keep groups to a manageable size to
ensure easier decision-making.
Involve marketing and sales as they may
have useful external intelligence about
consumers and competitors.
Communication skills are invaluable
and the people you select should
be comfortable dealing with senior
management and employees alike, as
well as with external stakeholders.
Members of the Green Team should exhibit
qualities such as:
Have an interest in environmental matters.
Be enthusiastic, motivated and passionate.
Able to commit a certain amount of time.
6. Write an environmental policy statement
An environmental policy statement should
be written to communicate both internally
A well written policy statement needs to
expresses the following:
Environmental goals that the facility will
undertake (for example, committing to
reduce 20% of waste by X year).
The way in which the organization aims to
treat the people it employs (for example,
through upholding equal opportunities
and other fundamental human rights).
The way in which it aims to integrate
into the community in which it is based
and co-operate on any significant local
issues that impact the business.
Policy statements should be communicated
At the back of the house
On the website
In guest information packs
A sample environmental policy statement
you can use for your hotel can be found in
7. Incorporating your environmental program into employee training
In order for an environmental program to be
successful, the goals and objectives should
be incorporated into employee training.
Employees should be made aware of the
policies and initiatives, as well as the goals
and objectives of the environmental program.
This information should be included in training
documentation, in orientation packages for
new employees, as well as other staff training
methods, with the aim to integrate these
policies into the organization. Posters, general
staff emails and other less formal means are
also a great way to make employees aware of
the environmental program initiatives.
Policies work best when staff members
understand their responsibilities in
achieving the policy objectives.
8. Benchmarking and regular
Benchmarking progress on a regular basis
is vital in achieving the goal of being a
Regular progress reports should be made
on the monitoring and measurement of the
goals in the environmental program. Progress
of how the goals are being achieved should
also be communicated to all stakeholders
and placed on the website (if appropriate).
For larger businesses a sustainability report
or integrating a section on environment/social
responsibility in the annual report would be an
effective means to communicate results.
Benchmarking and annual reports would
enable building on good results by setting
targets for further achievement.