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One of the greatest difficulties in doing sustainable tourism? Measuring!

But we don’t give up! The experience at Hotel Loveno with the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative (HCMI). 

HCMI logos

I would have loved to write about the results (positive or negative) of the first measurements made at Hotel Loveno between November and December 2022 in 2021. But instead, I have to write about the considerations on a path that was practically blocked before it even started. 

Last summer, I dedicated my research to delving into corporate social responsibility and, more generally, to standards and methods companies from different sectors use to measure their performance.  

If you want to reread the topics, you can find them here Corporate Social Responsibility, The GRI criteria.

I then wanted to try to apply the theory to practice, so I looked for tools that could help to make accurate measurements, something that was available for free and that showed what data was needed to calculate the carbon emissions generated by the activity in the hotel, the water use and the waste produced. 

I started dealing with the first two: carbon emissions and water use.

On the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance website, I found two tools that I found exciting and relatively easy to use (after a little study).

Sustainable-Hospitality-Alliance logo-–-Advancing-responsibility

The Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative (HCMI) and the Hotel Water Measurement Initiative. 

The Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative (HCMI) is a methodology and a free tool for hotels to calculate the carbon footprint of hotel stays and hotel meetings.

The HCMI enables a hotel to calculate

  • the total carbon footprint
  • the carbon footprint per occupied room daily
  • the carbon footprint per meeting space area on an hourly basis
  • renewable energy and electricity as part of total consumption.

HCMI is free of charge for all hotels. Using the tool will help hotels to:

  • understand their carbon footprint
  • compare their performance
  • set measurable targets
  • complete company reports
  • present reports to corporate clients (RFPs)
  • assist customers in their booking decisions
  • Prepare reports as part of the Glasgow Declaration commitments for climate action in tourism.

HCMI data can be used by hotels participating in the Cornell Hotel Sustainability Benchmark Index (CHSB), the hotel industry’s largest annual benchmarking on energy, water and carbon. The HCMI methodology is also used by the Hotel Footprinting benchmarking tool.

Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? 

An internationally recognised tool created by colleagues in the hospitality industry, used by 30,000 other hotels. I downloaded the Excel file to fill in, the sample Excel file, the presentation and the how-to guide.

Here is the big BUT! 

Hotel Loveno 2022 drone pictured
The only information I could enter was as follows: 

  • The total area of rooms and corridors (thanks to cadastral maps)
  • Total number of rooms
  • Total number of rooms occupied in the reference year (2021);
  • Electricity purchased in 2021 (data calculated by adding up the quantities shown on the bill);
  • Natural gas purchased in 2021 (data calculated by adding up the amounts indicated on the invoice).

The information I could not enter: 

  • The amount of energy consumed for the laundry (outsourced hence inherent to Scope 3) in 2021;
  • The amount of laundry washed (outsourced, therefore inherent to Scope 3) in 2021;
  • Any refrigerant gas leaks. I could not include this information for two reasons:
    1) we do not have air conditioning or an extensive cooling system;
    2) only the refrigerators we have purchased and not inherited from previous operators indicate the refrigerant gas used (but not in what quantity, i.e. how much they consume). 

Gas is used for Paolo’s car and everything in the hotel, from shopping to picking up guests. This is the information we could monitor starting this year.

In conclusion, the measurement was too much of an estimation, and the reality is that information from partners, if the structure outsources some services, could be more easily measurable. 

We must understand that we are all connected through suppliers, customers, employees, and owners. So many levels exist to measure, and we should go beyond our little hives. In the same way, however, this is a small step to understanding where we are before deciding where we want to go. 

In the specific case of Hotel Loveno, the different choices that could be made limited to carbon emissions are: 

  • Choose energy suppliers that supply energy through a higher percentage of renewable sources; 
  • installing renewable systems such as photovoltaic panels, solar thermal or domestic wind power;
  • Install automatic power shut-off systems in rooms and where currently not present in common areas;
  • request, together with the association promomenaggio, more precise information from laundry service providers.  

I started by mentioning that we are stuck on this path because the only feasible options for our current situation as managers are to change energy suppliers by choosing those with a higher percentage of renewables in the energy mix and to request more precise information from the laundry service providers.

I would be delighted to know what you think of this evaluation of one of the most promoted tools for measuring in hotels!!!
Have you experimented with this tool? Do you know any other interesting ones?

Write to me so we can talk about it!

Hotel Loveno results HCMI - hotel carbone mesurement Initiative

Sara – tourism sector consultant

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