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Single-use plastic toiletries, hotel thermostats and room service - all the things that we take for granted when we venture off on our holidays can rack up high environmental costs.
The hotel industry is a hotbed of carbon emissions, with research showing that the entire global sector needs to reduce its carbon emissions by 90 per cent per room by 2050.
“Hotels of all sizes are increasingly committed to addressing their impacts. As momentum grows, it is encouraging that we have industry innovators leading the way and helping to guide the wider industry to accelerate their path to net positive,” says Patrick O’Meara, interim chief executive of the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance.
Aiming to set a new sustainable benchmark, room2 Chiswick will embrace a “whole-life net zero carbon” approach upon its opening in December.
A cross between a boutique hotel and an Airbnb, the room2 “hometel” in west London is designed to provide guests with a home away from home – and this involves carrying over all the eco-friendly practices they’re committed to in their own living spaces.
When was the last time you spotted recycling bins in a hotel room during your travels? It’s a rare occurrence to say the least.
Two years of planning have meant that room2 Chiswick’s suites will be adorned with aesthetically pleasing, custom designed recycling bins to separate food waste, mixed packaging and general waste to be sent to waste-to-energy plants.
“It’s critical that we can best encourage our guests have the easiest access to recycling – so convenient, that when the consumers are given a choice they make the right decision,” says Robert Godwin, managing director of Lamington Group and room2.
The “whole life” model means paying attention to both embodied carbon, which is emitted during the production of building materials, and operational carbon, which is released through the way in which a building is used.
Bespoke furniture has been crafted for room2 Chiswick from FSC-certified timber which was manufactured within 10 miles of the hotel. To counteract the carbon emissions released from the trunk to table process, more than 5,000 trees have been planted in UK woodlands.
The “millions of tiny little changes” that have been implemented in the hometel add up to a much bigger picture, says Godwin.
“We need to focus on the biggest low hanging fruit, which is carbon emissions,” he says.
He envisages sustainability as an iceberg – with people thinking there’s only a few changes to be made, but below the waterline “it’s a huge topic which keeps going down into different levels of complexity”.
Two rooms will be converted into “labs” to continue the learning required to make sustainable changes, with data being collected on water use, air quality and guests’ energy behaviour patterns.
“For me, what is important is that we’re trying to lift the lid and wake the hotel industry up so they can compete with us and make the same changes,” says Godwin.