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Accommodating Net Zero: Sustainable Solutions for the Hotel Industry

As international and domestic travel ramps up, the pressure on the accommodation industry to introduce practical sustainability initiatives leading to Net Zero has intensified. Long known as an industry with high levels of wastage and excess, hotels also have “the highest energy intensity of all commercial real estate classes1.” The challenges are substantial, with a paper from global design and consulting firm, Arup, noting that ”The Sustainability Hospitality Alliance found that the hotel industry needs to reduce its carbon emissions by 66% per room by 2030, and by 90% per room by 2050.2” 

66% reduction in carbon emissions per hotel room needed by 2030

Big brands respond

The tourism industry has always been fiercely competitive, and hotel groups – regularly renovating and reinventing themselves – understand the importance of change in attracting clientele. So, it’s no surprise that major hotel groups have embraced the challenge, with 300 of them, post COP26 – including Accor, IHG, Hyatt, Hilton and Marriott – “committing to deliver ‘a concrete climate action plan’ outlining how they will measure, decarbonise, regenerate and unlock finance for environmental measures. 3

Home comforts

Here in Australia, hotel operators and owners are also at the forefront of the sustainability initiative. Just as well, because in Sydney, all hotels – whether established or new – have only until 2026 to meet the city’s Net Zero target for carbon emissions. One of the groups leading the charge is Pro-invest, which owns three Sydney hotels. Sabine Schaffer, managing partner and co-founder of Pro-invest Group, said energy efficiency is now a development priority for its 17 Australian assets4. Indeed, its Holiday Inn Express in Newcastle, opened in 2019, was the first hotel in Australia to get NABERS carbon-neutral certification, with “Energy saving measures including special flooring, light sensors and minibars six times more efficient than the norm4.”

Pathways to progress

There are a number of ways hotels can drive decarbonisation goals. Here are five.

1. Measure consistently: The Net Zero Methodology for Hotels provides guidance on how to approach Net Zero from a practical perspective. Patrick O’Meara, CEO of Sustainability Hospitality Alliance, says: “The Methodology helps hotels to set boundaries, to measure and report emissions in a consistent way, and to make appropriate use of carbon offsetting in the short to medium term. 5

2. Control and monitor: The Arup report1 shows how optimising operations (how rooms are booked, the schedule of heating and cooling, and so on) is the most cost-effective and easiest way to reduce consumption and cut carbon, resulting in a potential 19% savings.

3. Use smart technology: Around 80% of buildings we’ll be using in 2050 already exist1. So modernising older buildings with smart technology is a no brainer. Whether that’s through a simple key card that turns off heating, lighting and air conditioning when guests leave the room, or more sophisticated technology, such as lifts with regenerative drives which recover energy and feed it back into the system – modern technology can have a significant impact on reducing energy and operating costs.  

4. Reduce consumption: “Energy, water and waste account for the bulk of [hotel] emissions, and reducing these can lower operating costs. For instance, energy consumption produces 60% of a hotel’s carbon emissions and represents around 6% of operating costs. 6

60% of hotel's carbon emissions comes from energy consumption.

“If energy is going to be one of the most serious input costs for hotels in the future, the savings resulting from these initiatives can be a game changer.”

Ross Beardsell, Executive Vice President, JLL Advisory & Asset Management, Australasia

5. Switch to renewables: “A good place to start is by swapping out carbon-intensive energy sources such as oil, coal, and gas for newer, cleaner, electric options” says Hospitality Technology7. This could involve buying renewables from the grid, whether from battery or solar, wind power or hydro. Equally, where possible, it may involve producing renewable energy on site. Meliá Serengeti Lodge in Tanzania, for example, generates 45% of its energy via solar panels, while in the US, the Hyatt Regency, Greenwich, generates 75% of its energy from an on-site fuel cell3.

Fueled by necessity, powered by legislation, and increasingly driven by consumer values, the move to Net Zero is inexorable. There’s no clearer evidence than the Hotel Marcel in New Haven, Connecticut – the US’ first Net Zero hotel, run entirely on energy generated from solar technology.

As Ross Beardsell says, “Who knows, sustainability initiatives could be the difference between winning a major account and market share in what is an increasingly competitive hotel market.”

Act now to make an impact tomorrow

Energy Action has helped thousands of businesses across multiple industries make the transition to sustainability and Net Zero. (We achieved Net Zero ourselves this year.) Energy Action’s services include:

Solar auctions: Through our solar auction platform you can quickly and easily get the right solar solution, at the best possible price, and select the right purchasing method for you. Installing solar will save your business considerable sums while lowering your emissions and reducing dependency on the grid.

Net Zero transition: Energy Action has a proven five step process to help your business make the transition to Net Zero:

STEP 1: Measure your usage and emissions: you can’t improve what you don’t measure.

STEP 2: Lower your costs: use the measured data to establish areas for improvement.

STEP 3: Consider your emission reduction options: match your appetite for renewables to your budget and timeline.

STEP 4: Procure at least-cost: let energy retailers, renewable energy producers and/or installers compete to win your business.

STEP 5: Manage: from contract fulfilment to certification management.

For more information on how we can help your metal foundry business reach its Net Zero goals, contact us today.


1. Schneider Electric blog. Net zero carbon hotels: Making hotels of the future a reality today. May 3, 2021.

2. Arup Research: Transforming Existing Hotels to Net Zero Carbon.

3. Accom News: Op-Ed: Clear, honest sustainability charter imperative for every hotel in 2022. Ross Beardsell,

    December 7, 2021.

4. CoStar: Sydney Hotels Gear Up for Ambitious Net-Zero Targets. Tamara Thiessen, April 12, 2022.25 October, 2021.

5. Hospitalitynet: Hospitality industry launches new net zero methodology for hotels. December 17, 2021.

6. Hospitalitynet article 3 ways to reach net zero by 2050 in the accommodation sector. Ben Schroeter, Director of Strategic.

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