Sustainability Matters in Hospitality

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White Lyan is a sustainable bar that uses no ice or citrus and generates just one bag of garbage per week.

At a recent hospitality industry conference in New Orleans (no, not Tales – that’s next week!) the topic of sustainability was discussed by Diane Estner, president of DANNI Enterprises, and Michael Duffy, director of technology for Seaport Companies. More precisely, the topic of sustainability was presented at it relates to the world of hotels. That doesn’t mean, however, that independent bar and nightclub operators can’t learn from another hospitality segment.

Estner and Duffy revealed the top sustainability trends, along with the hospitality industry’s current “green state”:

  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
  • LEED growth and green momentum
  • Economic incentives (tax rebates, etc)
  • Greater cost controls (utilities, etc)
  • Energy, water, wastes (food, e-waste, etc)

As business owners, operators are acutely aware that CSR is a hot topic. We hesitate to refer to it as a trend because it’s so important and is becoming the standard expected by today’s customers. Small business owners may not be scrutinized to the same scale as their massive corporate counterparts but customers still want to know that they’re supporting responsible companies. Going green may seem like a daunting task but leaps in technology are making it easier. As an added incentive, going green and becoming sustainable can lead to tax rebates and other returns on investment.

While not every tech solution applies to all operators (yet) – virtual servers and blade computing, for instance – some of what is available will certainly help bars and nightclubs adopt and embrace sustainable practices. Cloud hosting is one of these technologies, and it’s also a convenient way to communicate and share files with business partners, management, and employees. Do you print a lot at your bar or nightclub? If you answered yes you should look into printer tech and awareness. Software is available that can analyze and reduce waste, and you should utilize the double-sided print feature to reduce paper usage and waste. In terms of power management, several solutions exist that can help you monitor power and HVAC usage remotely. And while it may sound simple, turn your monitors off at night to reduce power usage.

Guest-facing sustainability solutions include low-flow plumbing features, LCD and LED lighting, green purchasing practices, and green transportation options. Green purchasing products include paper products, sustainable food and beverage items, and sustainable cleaning products. As far as green transportation, you can implement and scale down employee-subsidized public transportation and bike sharing for your bar or nightclub. You should certainly make your customers aware of your green efforts, but be careful to avoid coming across as doing it just to grab their attention and money.

Of course, no discussion of going green would be complete without bringing up the blue. Water is arguable our most precious resource. Some hotel groups are using water harvesting solutions to become more sustainable. Research whether or not harvesting and using rain water is feasible and legal for your bar or nightclub, and partner with your landlord (should you have one) when considering this solution. Seaport Companies uses electrolyzed water cleaning solutions as well. The system produces a cleaning solution from regular tap water which is run through an electrical process that adds salt. These systems are usually approved by local agencies but make certain before you make the investment. The best part of electrolyzed water cleaning products is the ROI. Once you’ve paid for it you won’t have to spend money on cleaning products. This solution is excellent for your business, employees and guests as it’s non-toxic and great for the environment.

Other sustainability solutions are:

  • Organics recycling
  • Bio-digestors
  • Rooftop apiaries
  • Green roofs
  • On-site gardens and hydroponic pods
  • Locally sourced products

Now, before you run out and buy a beekeeper’s suit, make sure that you’re permitted by law to maintain an apiary on the property. Gardens and apiaries are not only excellent sustainability solutions for the environment, they’re incredible conversation and marketing pieces. Making your own ingredients such as honey, herbs and fresh produce is rewarding on many levels.

Sustainability is of vital importance to our communities and our world in general. While not every solution is feasible for all bars, nightclubs and restaurants, much of what is being tested out and used by the big name corporations in the hospitality industry can be scaled down. Finding the solutions that work best for you is not only rewarding, it presents an opportunity to be innovative and create guest loyalty.