As before, most conferences are staged in hotels. Meeting managers and delegates at exhibitions and congresses, who in context with the discussions on climate are seeking to reduce their ecological footprint, are finding a rising number of allies in the hotel industry.
ichael Stober has been keeping his climate promise: climate positive in 2018 – energy self-sufficient by 2025. The General Manager of Landgut Stober is one of 4,087 'Entrepreneurs For Future'. These are business persons supporting the 'Fridays For Future' campaign and climate- friendly business operations. Whenever young students – among them his own children – join in protests for climate protection, he's delighted "because this campaign actually expresses what we at Landgut Stober feel." Since 2012, Landgut Stober has been lauded as Germany's most sustainable meeting hotel. Located 20 kms westerly of Berlin, the 20,000-sqm estate features a bio-hotel with 300 rooms and 25 meeting rooms.
The climate discussion has been refueled by striking students and scorching summers, and Stober's clients are well aware of that issue. Presently, every second booking at Landgut Stober is made due to the estate's sustainable operations. "Sustainable conduct is not restricted to using recycled toilet paper, it's about scrutinizing all production processes," said Stober. When he bought the former estate, he refurbished the complex with a focus on sustainability. Since 2018, meetings at Landgut Stober are rated climate- neutral or even climate-positive.
Nevertheless, the hotelier still has to struggle with false preconceptions such as "Aah, so you're a greenie, and we'll have to sleep on straw then!" or "Oh, so it's going to be an expensive weekend!" Landgut Stober actually meets 4-star comfort standards and that – owing to sustainable business operations – at 4.6 percent lower rates. Stober qualifies as 'nonsense' the misconception that sustainable conferences cost more.
"Sustainability is at the center of the overall business strategy, development and innovation at Landgut Stober; there is resource-conservation without loss of comfort. Actually, a model for sustainable business management and meeting social responsibility," said Petra Naoum. The event manager at the German Aerospace Center is one of 16 auditors, and she sums it up in her audit report: "All quality requirements for Certified Conference Hotel & Certified Green Hotel are met with top grades."
It's the auditors that make this certification so special: they're all business travel and meeting managers. With their audits, they make life easier for planners. The criteria for the 105 Certified Green Hotels include energy (Which regenerative energy sources are being used?) water (Have flow restrictors been installed?), waste (Is waste being separated?), food & beverage (How high is the share of ecological products?), travelling (Is rail travel being recommended?), Corporate Social Responsibility (Has a CSR officer been appointed?), communication (Is the company advertising its sustainability program to guests and staffers?) and the strategic development (Is sustainability part of the company vision?).
The woodchip furnace at Landgut Stober cuts heating expenses by €60,000 per year.
PHOTO: LANDGUT STOBER
Among the Certified Green Hotels is the Radisson Blu Park Hotel & Conference Centre in Dresden Radebeul. The Radisson Group is the only hotel group compensating for the CO2 footprint caused by all meetings at their 1,100 hotels – at no extra cost. In cooperation with First Climate, this process compensates for more than 38,300 tons of CO2 per year –balancing the output of 8,300 automobiles.
These activities are based on surveys conducted by Radisson Meetings, which show that 76 percent of all planners are convinced that events are increasingly expected to take sustainability into consideration. Inge Huijbrechts, Global Senior Vice President for Responsible Business and Safety & Security, has been registering growing awareness in the aftermath of the Paris Climate Agreement along with the question: "What must the private sector do to contribute to achieving this global goal?" According to her, the hotel industry's CO2 footprint must have been reduced by 60% in 2030 and by 90% in 2050. Radisson's climate projects are in compliance with the UN's sustainability development goals.
CERTIFIED GREEN HOTELS*
1. Landgut Stober in Nauen 2. Dorint Resort & Spa Bad Brückenau 3. Best Western Plus Palatin Kongresshotel und Kulturzentrum in Wiesloch 4. Scandic Hamburg Emporio 5. Mintrops Land Hotel Burgaltendorf in Essen 6. Hotel am Badersee in Grainau 7. Sofitel Munich Bayerpost 8. TUI BLUE Fleesensee in Göhren-Lebbin 9. Dorint Hotel Düren 10. Gräflicher Park Health & Balance Resort in Bad Driburg www.certified.de
The CSR-strategy 'Hilton’s Travel with Purpose' is also oriented along the UN Sustainable Development Agenda.2030. By that year, Hilton Hotels want to have reduced its ecological footprint by 50%. In real terms, that means reduction of carbon emissions by 61 percent, consumption of water and waste quantity by 50 percent as well as doubling investments in social projects such as support programs for women. And in even more concrete terms: Hilton's 'LightStay platform' measures the CSR performance of the group's 4,600 hotels in 102 countries and assists these with obtaining certification according to environmental management standard ISO 14001 and energy management standard ISO 50001.
Each property is requested to contribute sustainable projects. There's the Hilton London Bankside, for example: upon special request, guests may book a vegan suite with vegan bed linen and eco-cotton carpets – certified by the Vegan Society.
Accor Hotels' new Eco-Lifestyle brand 'Greet' accommodates guests paying heed to their ecological footprint. The first German Greet-Hotel will open in Darmstadt in autumn 2020. Construction work for converting 'The Hotel Darmstadt' into an environmentally-compatible meeting hotel with 327 rooms and 26 meeting rooms has been ongoing since September. The first Greet-Hotel opened this April in Beaune, followed by properties in Marseille, Lyon Perrache, Paris and Rennes. Accor Greet has plans to have 300 hotels in operation by 2030.
In terms of SAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment standards, Meliá Hotels is sustainability frontrunner in the hotel industry. CSA in conjunction with S&P Dow Jones indexes is considered a global benchmark to assess the sustainability practices of 4,700 businesses. Meliá achieves the maximum 100-point score for meeting criteria such as climate strategy and social reporting. CEO Gabriel Escarrer considers that to be the highest-possible acknowledgement for Melia's management model in which sustainability becomes an essential element of company policies because they believe that the corporate world must exert positive influence on society as a whole and on our entire planet.