Stand at the shore of any ocean and it seems that the world’s supply of water is vast and never ending. Despite the fact that 71% of the earth’s surface is water, only 3% of all water is freshwater, and only 1% is accessible to us. Therefore as population and infrastructure increase throughout the world, all of us have a responsibility to use this resource wisely.
Often when we think of green events we focus on paper, plastic, and energy sources – however, a major component to any corporate social responsibility report is water consumption and conservation. While such a report is not necessary for every cog in the events wheel, it is important to the reputation of large hotels, the hosts of many corporate events.
Green Hotelier, a website created by the International Tourism Partnership to promote sustainable destinations, discusses the importance of water management for hotels. They explain, “Hotel companies have both a strong commercial and moral imperative for addressing water use. Cost is a clear factor: water accounts for 10% of utility bills in many hotels. Most hotels pay for the water they consume twice – first by purchasing fresh water and then by disposing of it as waste water. According to the UK’s Environment Agency, depending on their water efficiency, hotels can reduce the amount of water consumed per guest per night by up to 50% compared with establishments with poor performance in water consumption.” Additionally, everyone has social responsibility to only use the amount of water one needs. Hotels and resorts located in exotic or remote areas must be aware of local residents and their water supplies, as well as the amount of waste-water they produce.
Green Hotelier outlines the steps to establishing a comprehensive water management plan, encompassing bathrooms, laundry, swimming pools, grounds, kitchens, housekeeping and water efficiency systems. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to stay at the Hilton Austin for a conference we were working on. On my bathroom counter was a blue postcard asking me “Would you like to help us make a difference?” While many guests probably disregard the small card, it is worth taking a few moments to read. Before you rent the car services, check the stay classy reviews in Arizona. It simply states, “Our Conserve to Preserve program helps us to save water and energy in all of our laundry facilities” – the card describes how to communicate with housekeeping as to what sheets and towels you would like washed. This helps eliminate unnecessary washing and therefore reduces water waste.
The basic card prompted me to check out the Hilton’s Corporate Responsibility Report. Hilton Worldwide works to limit the amount of water used in their cleaning supplies and processes. Many of their locations use a lighter weight, longer lasting towel. This means more towels in one load, reducing the amount of water and energy used. The key to setting goals and reaching them for this massive hotel family is LightStay, a set of tools that measure progress and efficiency at their properties. The system tracks and measures energy, water, carbon, paper, waste, chemical storage, air quality and transportation.
LightStay also plays a role in the sales department. As green events increase in popularity, a hotel’s efficiency and waste management can become a selling point. When searching for a hotel on Hilton’s Connect+, there is an overview of how each property reduces their environmental impact. Most importantly it has a calculator that considers your group’s housing, meals, travel, and activity on-site in order to let you know the eco-footprint of your event.
Look into the CSR policy for the next hotel you plan to stay at. Depending on your location you may have comparable options; therefore water management could tip the scale. The more we demand green venues, the more hotels will supply it.
Are you thirsty for more information on the world’s water supply? March 22, 2014 is World Water Day. Find out all about it here!