With the development of such initiatives as the Paris Agreement and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), many of the world’s nations are pledging action to address concerns regarding carbon production and energy use. Likewise, a substantial number of hotel companies are participating in carbon-reduction efforts, even as the lodging and travel industry continues its rapid growth. The ability to measure the industry’s environmental performance is an essential first step toward addressing the industry’s conservation efforts. Building on the data collected for the Cornell Hotel Sustainability Benchmarking (CHSB) Index, this study is the first to lay the groundwork for measuring the industry’s collective impact by combining several data sets to estimate the total supply, energy usage, water usage, and carbon emissions of the hotel industry worldwide—based on room count. Taking the next step, the study uses results of Hilton’s LightStay program—a value-chain approach to improving environmental performance that engages franchisees and centers on management—as an example of its analytical methodology. Applying this sustainability management platform, the analysis finds that Hilton reduced its portfolio-wide energy usage intensity by 22 percent, water usage intensity by 22 percent, and carbon emissions intensity by 34 percent from 2008 through 2018. Through this example, the study demonstrates methods to evaluate the industry’s overall ability to improve performance and collaboration. Most critically, the analysis demonstrates a method that can be applied by any hotel or firm, regardless of size, including franchisees and independent properties.
Foster, D., Ricaurte, E., & Farrar, L. (2019). Calculating hotel industry impact: The case for Hilton Lightstay. Cornell Hospitality Report, 19(6), 1-16.