Langham Hotels International has forged a partnership with EarthCheck; the world’s largest certifier of sustainable travel and tourism operators. The deal will result in all Langham and Eaton properties upgrading to EarthCheck so that they align with international standards of best practice.
The companies are no strangers to one another as The Langham, Auckland first certified using EarthCheck science, back in February 2008. Since then, it has held the prestigious EarthCheck Silver Certification for two years running, while Eaton Hotel Kong Hong and Langham Place Mongkok, Hong Kong are pending Silver Certification Audits later this month.
Langham recently decided that all its properties will now benchmark with EarthCheck and aim for a minimum certification level of Silver. This is in direct response to the need to address major environmental challenges such as climate change, waste reduction and non-renewable resource management.
“Environmental advocates and stakeholders are calling on companies to demonstrate the role they must play in climate change mitigation and policy development,” explains John Dick, Vice President – Eaton Hotels International and the group environmental champion for both Langham and Eaton hotels. “This is reflected in the number of companies that are reporting on their policies and engagement efforts in response to new regulations including the Green House Gas (GHG) Protocols.”
The EarthCheck Approach
EarthCheck’s science-based approach is considered at the forefront of sustainability management systems. It should be, when you consider it was developed by the world’s largest not-for-profit research centre into sustainable tourism – the Australian Government-funded Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre.
The Program also leverages some $260 million worth of academic research and contains more than a decade of industry benchmarking data. More than a thousand operators already use EarthCheck, and which provides them with a framework to increase operational efficiencies, maximise the benefit of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, and minimise environmental impacts.
There’s a growing awareness within the travel and tourism industry that for a certification scheme to actually mean anything, it must:
• Include standardised scientific reporting that is consistent and comparable across country and sector;
• Minimise financial and reporting burdens by using one centralised ICT reporting platform;
• Harmonise information collection to a common metric; and
• Create baselines of ‘high environmental integrity’ to enable responsible forward planning.
The EarthCheck scientific benchmarking system and certification programs are based on all of these requirements and this ensures Langham and Eaton properties will remain at the forefront of sustainability.
For Langham, brand recognition and credibility in market are also important.
“As the sustainability movement has evolved, so have the number of misleading environmental claims and operators who are misusing industry-developed labels to influence consumer behaviour,” states John Dick. “Schemes that can be accused of this include those with no common benchmarking criteria, no year-on-year performance expectations, no scientific reporting or international standards, and no 3rd party verification.”
Langham Hotels Across the Globe Align with EarthCheck
Langham’s alignment with EarthCheck provides the company with a means to reduce operational overheads without compromising the guest experience. Where some “green” labels espouse the marketing benefits of displaying yet another badge, EarthCheck remains focussed on quantitative reporting and risk evaluation, whilst identifying areas for operational savings.
The global luxury hospitality group has arguably become one of the best examples of how sustainability policies can be practically and consistently applied across a multi-national business. Typical savings are in the region of 25 per cent, with levels of savings varying between each property according to its operational footprint.
Langham has opted for a companywide strategy to ensure a consistent approach is applied across the group and help them identify key milestones. To date, some of their best practice ratings include; The Langham, Melbourne who benchmarked 56.1% better than Best Practice Level for Potable Water Consumption; The Langham, Auckland who came in 33.8% better than the Best Practice Level for Potable Water Consumption and 22.2% better than the Baseline level for Waste Sent to Landfill.
The Langham, Boston also achieved 16.9% better than the Best Practice Level for Energy Management, and 26.4% better than the Best Practice Level for Potable Water Consumption. Those savings directly correspond to financial savings and that all goes directly to bottom line profits!
Environmental awareness has grown significantly in some market segments. For conference bookings, the facts are clear: there has been a steady increase in the number of corporate clients requesting details specific to CSR programs.
“There is definitely an added sense of awareness and concern reflected in the questions and level of detail being requested from our hotels.” says John Dick. “As regulations surrounding climate change develop, so too does the expectation of guests. This is reflected by a number of international booking engines such as Expedia, that are now offering clients ‘environmentally sensitive accommodation options’ in response to growing demand.”
Waste reduction continues to be a challenging issue in a hotel environment. Although few have as yet found ways to turn trash into treasure, Langham properties are well on their way.
After identifying opportunities to save valuable work space, improve staff productivity and related hire costs for bins, The Langham, Auckland purchased a series of air compressor baling machines to aid with waste reduction initiatives.
A cardboard and plastic bag baler was purchased in addition to a Styrofoam extruder, which recycles used Styrofoam boxes into solid blocks. The introduction of the new systems enabled the hotel to increase recycling efforts by an additional 6 tons per month and, once baled, the material was of direct value to the hotels contractor’, resulting in a monthly premium for the material. By leveraging such technology, the hotel was also able to reduce local contractor transportation by over 2000 kilometers per year, creating a win-win situation for both parties.
The Langham, London installed a state of the art Envac Food waste system, which separates organic material from inorganic, via a dewatering and vacuum suction system. Once processed, the final product is collected commercially and used as a source of bio fuel.
The Langham, Langham Place and the Eaton Hotel in Hong Kong formed a partnership with the Foodlink Foundation. Through this partnership participating hotels collect leftover food from their F&B outlets and donate this to local shelters in the community. This proactive approach provides valuable opportunities for team building and ensures less fortunate members of society have direct access to food
From an operational point of view there are always areas for continual performance improvement. There is never an end point when you’re in business and sustainability is a life long journey that will continue to influence society’s perception of value.
Hotels are in a position of influence and use their purchasing power to influence suppliers, partners, stakeholders and colleagues. But without the ability to actively measure, report, evaluate and communicate performance, it can be hard to see the triple bottom line value.