How green was my hotel?

I recently met Jan Peter Bergkvist director of all things green at Scandic, one of the biggest hotel groups in the Nordic region. He told me, that it has managed to reduce its carbon footprint more than any other hotel chain in the world.

What the chain has done is calculate how much carbon is consumed per guest per night. When it started its calculations it found that its guests used up 5.5kg of carbon each night. After an overhaul of its operations, Scandic has reduced that figure to 3.6kg per guest night. It would be nice to compare these figures (which have been independtly audited by Acona), with other hotel groups. But other groups not only don’t only publish their figures, it is thought that they have yet to collate them.

The closest claims are made by the Mariott hotel group which back in April announced that it was on schedule to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% over a ten year period from 2000 to 2010. But that still wouldn’t come close to Scandic’s achievements.

“We don’t only address the carbon footprint,” he told me, “we look at the whole ‘unsustainable’ footprint.” The hotel groups has made many changes. From small things, like wooden pens and wooden keycards. Then you notice that the floor is wooden, that each room has water efficient taps and recycle bins. Neither does the chain use bottled water, instead each guest is presented with an empty water jug and asked to use the tap.

Like most hotels, guests are encouraged to reuse their towels for more than one day. But even here Scandic goes further; sending all laundry to an eco-labelled laundry. While all the waste food goes to an organic waste recycling mill where it is converted into biogas, the first hotel to use such a system. It has also reduced the number of cleaning chemicals it uses from 55 down to 17, 70% of all cleaning products – including the kitchen – are eco-labelled.

By contrast The Proximity Hotel, which is about to open in the aptly named Greenboro, North Carolina is making similar environmental claims. But that’s only a single hotel