What a sustainable hotel really is and what it takes to become one?
If we don´t look after it, in some years our world won´t be the same as we know it today. That’s why every day we are more aware about how important some habits as recycling, re-using certain objects or using public transport are. We are progressively integrating these new routines in our daily life but… what about during our holidays?
Travelling doesn’t necessarily mean leaving these habits back home, specially since we can find the so called sustainable or eco-friendly hotels. These are establishments that try to reduce to the minimum the consumption of natural resources, the expense of energy or the emissions and they take special care of the waste treatment so their environmental impact is as low as possible.
Sustainable hotels are usually designed respecting the environment and the area where they’re located. In many occasions, they implement to their facilities efficient lighting systems, low pressure water installations and try to generate their own energy.
In addition to this concern for the environment, eco-friendly hotels also try to fit in the area and help the community by consuming local products and services. This way, not only nature but also society is benefited.
Reducing consumption in order to not leave a mark
For a hotel to be considered sustainable, it must fulfill at least one of the following practices or features:
- Having had certain environmental, social and cultural principles into account at the time of its design.
- Respecting the natural surrounding, both in social and natural terms. This means not contaminating, respecting the local culture…
- Contributing to the community´s development supporting local businesses.
- Promoting the consumption of local and ecologic alimentary products.
- Basing the main part of its energetic supply in renewable energies.
- Using low-consumption illumination, water-saving systems…
- Using organic materials on items such as towels or bed sheets.
- Respecting the bioclimatic construction rules, that seek to reduce to the minimum the use of heating and air conditioning systems.
For hotel owners and managers to stand up for one or some of these practices proves their will to run their business respecting the environment and its surroundings.
This way of travelling is also known as sustainable tourism. World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) defines it as a model that “has a full awareness of the current and future impact of tourism in economic, social and environmental terms in order to satisfy the needs of visitors, industries, nature and host communities”.
Such is the importance of this new travelling model that the General Assembly of the United Nations has appointed 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
In this respect, UNWTO´s Secretary-General Taleb Rifai mentioned that “it is a unique opportunity to extend the contribution of tourism to the three main pillars of sustainability (economic, social and environmental), as well as to increase awareness about the sector’s real dimensions, which are usually underestimated”.
According to UNWTO, tourism is responsible for 5% of the global CO2 emissions. Of this percentage, 20% belongs to hotels, mainly based on their use of heating, air conditioning, bar and restaurant refrigeration and pool heating.
Sustainable hotels try to have the lesser impact in the world as possible. This is their main motto. For them to succeed in this mission would mean that the planet, as we know it today, would live for many years and would be a better place for future generations.