Greta effects wanted

By Sylvie Konzack

What contribution is the segment making to meeting climate targets? An ambitious one in some places. But the potential and opportunities are even greater, many operators agree. A few voices and initiatives.

Since Greta, Luisa and Rezo, sustainability issues have advanced from a nice-to-have to a big to-do. Especially in the travel industry, which is considered a big consumer of resources and is constantly confronted with new green policies from corporate clients.

It is worth mentioning that the hotel industry has already started savings measures in the last ten years due to the high energy costs - with block-type thermal power station technologies, green electricity initiatives or modern mobility concepts. Chains like Scandic have made this their USP. Big players such as Marriott, Hilton or Accor have set up environmental programmes that have recently resulted in self-imposed plastic bans, recycling or tree-planting projects.

Many operators agree that the serviced apartment segment in particular has special opportunities for sustainability. "Our sector has great potential because long-term stays are resource-efficient," emphasises Debora Verna, Group Marketing & Communications Manager at Visionapartments, among others, and points to the use of solar energy for pool heating in the company, recycling projects and fewer chemicals in the laundry. Adagio also sees great sustainability potential "especially in the extended-stay segment", explains Anja Mueller, Vice-COO Europe and Partners Aparthotels Adagio: "Weekly instead of daily room cleaning significantly reduces the use of cleaning products compared to the classic hotel. Towels and bed linen are also used longer." In addition, there are regional and organic breakfast products or waste separation in the apartments and on each floor. Adagio participates in Accor's own Planet21 programme.

Property first

The SV Group is also focusing on the great effects of waste and F&B issues for the Residence Inn and soon also Stay Kooook brands. The trigger was an analysis in 2012, reports Kornell Otto, Project Management Director at SV Group. "It was not logistics or cooking, as was originally suspected, that was responsible for the majority of the climate impact, but the shopping basket. If SV Group really wanted to reduce CO2 emissions, it had to whet the guests' appetite for climate-friendly food." At the same time, the value chain was revised and cooperation with WWF Switzerland and Swiss Animal Protection was launched. But Kornell Otto sees the biggest climate factor in the property itself. "Here it makes sense, especially for growing brands, to take a particular interest in Minergie- or LEED-certified properties in the development process," he is convinced. But there is still a lot of potential on the road here, according to Helmut Dörfer, architect and energy consultant, partner at Dörfer Grohnmeier Architekten Partnerschaft: "So far, the topic of sustainability has been given little consideration in the planning and realisation of temporary housing projects. A major reason for this could be the investor/user dilemma." The laws do not yet stipulate stricter guidelines, so that often only the minimum energy standard is realised in new serviced apartment projects. "The dilemma is that higher investments in better energy standards or resource-saving technologies are not reflected in the calculation and setting of lease prices," he adds - "even though there is considerable potential for savings in operating costs and CO2 emissions," and it would usually be too costly to implement them retrospectively. From the operator's point of view, Matthias Niemeyer, Head of Development Europe at Adina Apartment Hotels, confirms this: "Sustainability starts with construction, and here, far too little attention is paid to sustainability. Serviced apartments could have a competitive advantage if implemented successfully, as guests identify more with "their" apartment due to the longer stay." Ultimately, however, it would depend on whether guests want to pay for sustainability. "This is not the case so far."

The power of the employee

So the guest factor plays a big role. The employee factor perhaps an even bigger one, Living Hotels would say. "The challenge of a really effective sustainability concept lies in not simply prescribing the measures from the central or board level, but in actively involving the employees," Lorenz ter Veen, COO Living Hotels, is convinced. For this, one has to inspire the employees for the concept, "because the employees make lived sustainability their project" and see their own ideas implemented, he adds and at the same time looks at the new Living Moments philosophy, which affects all areas. "At the moment we can't implement as many good suggestions and ideas as we get," says Lorenz ter Veen. In addition, he says, a firm, sensibly implemented mindfulness philosophy increases the company's performance and is demanded by employees and long-stay guests. The 16 Living Hotels have been certified with the Green Globe seal since June 2019. Only green electricity flows in the hotels. Disposable cups, plastic straws, packaged food on the breakfast table and products made from palm oil are banned. Individual measures range from carpooling to organised garbage-good-by-city tours for employees, guests and citizens. And the whole thing comes with a development obligation:

Within one year, a sufficient number of new measures must be deposited. So praising the status quo is pointless. Perhaps some people still know: the towel policy was once a staff idea. At least that's what the legend about a Scandic employee tells us. The time is ripe for new, green legends.