Flying is widely regarded as the most environmentally damaging aspect of any holiday. But in some cases, the amount of carbon generated by staying in a hotel could actually be worse.
To help travellers make informed choices about the accommodation they choose, new travel start-up Staze (staze.com) has established a hotel-specific methodology used to calculate the emissions of your stay for more than three million hotels globally.
Users can search by destination for a range of properties, all given a CO2 calculation compared to the local average. When people book via the site, Staze will double-offset the carbon footprint.
Where is most carbon generated during a hotel stay?
“It’s great to tell guests to reuse their towels, but if the hotel’s washing machines are powered by coal then the carbon footprint of your stay will still be huge. Academic research shows 75% of the carbon footprint of a hotel comes from energy usage. Therefore to accurately calculate the carbon footprint of any given hotel around the world, we look at how much energy is used each time a new guest stays there and what types of energy are used as well as eight other factors, including the location and number of rooms.”
Which cities have the most eco-efficient hotels?
“Hotels are limited by how green the local energy is, which means the most eco-efficient hotels are located in cities with access to green energy. For example, London (nightly average: 10kg CO2) and Amsterdam (nightly average: 18kg CO2) feature high on the list, whereas hotels in Dubai (nightly average: 67kg CO2) are much less eco-friendly.”
Which chains are best?
“Of the smaller hotel groups, Scandic and NH Hotel Group are the most impressive. They run the most sustainable hotels in many of the Northern European cities in which they operate.”
Why can your gradings change daily?
“A key part of understanding the carbon footprint you contribute when staying at a hotel is its occupancy. If you are the only guest in a 1000 room hotel, then you are creating a much greater carbon footprint than if you are the 999th guest in that hotel. Our gradings can change daily due to changes in hotel occupancy.
“It’s important to factor for number of guests when calculating a hotel’s footprint, because otherwise a tiny hotel could get away with having the same total footprint as a massive hotel.”
How do you offset?
“We support projects such as Charm Industrial, which converts biomass into a stable, carbon-rich liquid to then pump it back deep underground, and TIST which helps farmers plant trees around the world.”
Are a lot of the big hotel groups guilty of greenwashing?
“Unfortunately, many hotel groups have not yet set science-based emissions reduction targets, so any sustainability claims they make could be very weak.
“The only way to cut through greenwashing is with data. Even when a hotel group is doing its best to be more sustainable, it’s not enough to want to be more sustainable. Guests deserve transparency on how effective the actions are that are being taken, and that’s exactly what Staze aims to provide.”
In the bigger scheme of things, is choosing a hotel with lower carbon emissions really going to make a difference?
“Hotels are one of the most carbon intensive types of buildings, but we naturally tend to underestimate how important our hotel choices are on the environment.
“For example, if you take the train to Manchester and stay for a week, your hotel is the largest part of your carbon footprint. If you fly to Barcelona and spend a week, then depending on your choice, your hotel stay could easily create a larger footprint than your flight. So far, Staze guests simply choosing greener hotels have saved the equivalent emissions of an 18,000-mile car journey.”
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