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Hotels on the way to net zero

A green globe with three green arrows and a small green flower.

At the "Green Transformation of the Hotel Industry" panel at ITB Berlin, industry representatives discussed resource conservation and sustainability

How can hotels help to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint? Experts examined this from a scientific and business angle at a panel discussion at ITB Berlin. To begin with, Prof. Sandra Rochnowski of Hochschule für Wirtschaft und Recht Berlin (HWR Berlin) presented a pilot study undertaken in collaboration with Hotel Relais & Châteaux Gut Steinbach in Bavaria. At the subsequent discussion round, leading hotel industry stakeholders presented examples of best practices.

Hotel Relais & Châteaux Gut Steinbach in Bavaria is surrounded by 35 hectares of woods. As well as being a place to relax it also stores CO2. In a pilot study, Sandra Rochnowski, professor of tourism economics and head of the Institute for Sustainability at HWR Berlin, also examined how forests could offset emissions.

After her keynote speech, Sandra Rochnowski moderated a panel discussion with industry representatives. Richard Seusing, authorised signatory for B&B Hotels, talked about explaining sustainability to guests in practical terms without lecturing them. Initiatives included minimising the amount of packaging at breakfast and “shower challenges”, using the least amount of water indicated as possible.

Many B&B Hotels now have charging points provided by Wirelane. Hakan Ardic, vice president, Hospitality & Mobility at Wirelane, emphasised the importance of using electric transport for sustainable tourism. One obstacle to expanding the charging infrastructure for EVs was confusion among landlords and property lessees over responsibilities, which delayed or even blocked approval in some cases. In that context, Yvonne Brabant, head of Asset Management Hospitality at Union Investment Real Estate, stressed how important it was for operators and landlords to show a united front.

However, even apparently minor product decisions can positively affect the environment. A hotel using Ada Cosmetics’ sustainable soaps displayed a certain mindset, said André Roeske, senior vice president, Sales at Ada Cosmetics. Darvin Nowak, CSR director at Greif Mietwäsche, emphasised how important suppliers were in the certification process for hotels. According to Andreas Westerburg, head of Hotel Development & Member Services at BWH Hotels Central Europe, in addition to having the right partners it was particularly important to raise awareness among employees for sustainability issues and spark their fascination for the subject.