A landmark Cornell University study has compiled and analyzed industry-wide data to develop sustainability benchmarks for hotels in 30 geographic areas in China, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Using these benchmarks, hotels in and near these 30 locations can see how they stack up against their peers.
With data contributed by nine global hotel companies, the benchmark data collection and analysis effort focuses on two key components of sustainability: energy usage and carbon emissions. The report, "Hotel Sustainability Benchmarking," by Howard G. Chong and Eric E. Ricaurte, is available at no charge from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) and the Cornell Center for Real Estate and Finance (CREF).
"We greatly appreciated the support of the hotel firms in developing the Cornell hotel sustainability benchmarks," said Ricaurte, a CHR research associate. "We had monthly utility usage from nine major lodging companies with over 2,000 hotels, which allowed us to calculate detailed results for 30 geographic areas. One thing we noticed right away is that hotel benchmarks are very different from those for other commercial buildings, even on the same street."
"This study builds on existing sustainability reporting efforts, such as the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative," added Chong, who is an assistant professor at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration and a faculty fellow at the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. "With the data we had available, we could take the essential step of accounting for local climate in our sustainability benchmarks, which means that each location has its own distinct data set. But we also found that the benchmarks change according to a hotel's chain scale segment, and we even found great variations in energy use for hotels with similar attributes located in the same city. It depends on a hotel's operations and amenities."
Chong and Ricaurte conclude that further study is needed to quantify additional drivers of energy use. As an example, they showed the variety of energy effects resulting from different approaches to handling the laundry wash. With continued industry support, the research will be repeated annually to further expand the benchmarks and improve understanding of the components of sound hotel energy modeling.
In addition to the benchmarks' value in sustainability reporting and regulatory compliance, the authors anticipate that the benchmarks will be useful as a continuous improvement tool for hotel companies and to document results of capital improvements. Moreover, meeting planners and travelers can incorporate the benchmarks into their carbon calculation for the hotel portion of their travel arrangements.
About The Center for Hospitality Research
A unit of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, The Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) sponsors research designed to improve practices in the hospitality industry. Under the lead of the center's corporate affiliates, experienced scholars work closely with business executives to discover new insights into strategic, managerial and operating practices. To learn more about the center and its projects, visit www.chr.cornell.edu.
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