Tips for hotels to be more eco-friendly

We already told you about 12 actions to reduce your plastic waste. But as you may know, reducing one’s plastic consumption is not the only way to go green : you can do more, notably to reduce energy and water consumption. Here is a sample of green initiatives for your hotel to be more eco-friendly. Some are easy to put into practice, and some require more investment. But keep in mind that green initiatives are often synonyms of money savings and additional visibility!

Evaluate your consumption

Monitor your water, electricity consumption and waste production. Not only will an audit make you realise how much your hotel consume, but it will help you see where to make meaningful short cuts.

Conducting a waste audit is easy, and we made it even easier for you. Check the template here and complete the table with your non-plastic data. For water consumption, you could report on how much you generate based on your meters and use this article to get an idea on how to do it. The same can be done for electricity. However, best is to have an expert come and assess how much electricity is used per room/device depending on the moment in time so that you can see clearly where to focus your efforts on.

Save energy and costs

Stop washing towels and bed linens every day

Electricity and water consumption are the two main costs for hotels (representing up to 80% in US hotels for instance). However, there are easy actions that can be taken to reduce these costs, such as not changing bed linens and towels every day. This should be your first attempt to go green and reduce your chemicals, energy and water consumption. Only change the bed linen every 3 days or upon check-out, unless guests request more frequently. For towels, just change them on request, and inform your guests of your policy with an eco card left in the bedroom as White Boutique Hotel does. With such a card, guests will be aware of your contribution to save important environmental resources. And what better than good reputation to bring in new guests ?

Eco Card at White Boutique Hotel
Eco Card at White Boutique Hotel

Regulate the temperature

Since this article is addressed to Cambodian hotels, we will talk only about A/C. 

Before anything else, check for air leaks at your doors and windows and resolve them. You can do your best to reduce your electricity bill, but if fresh air escapes because of bad thermal insulation, then it will be all for nothing. Moreover, good insulation can help you save money as rooms won’t need as much air conditioning.
Be responsible about air conditioning. Did you know that no matter the temperature set on the A/C you will be unlikely to be able to cool down a room up until 16 or 17 degrees? However, your A/C system will still try to reach this temperature and will consume a LOT of energy. So make sure to set your A/C system to cool down to a minimum of 19-21°C for both common areas and guest rooms to prevent abuse.

Make sure to always propose a fan in the bedrooms, so that guests have an alternative to A/C. Fans consume a lot less energy as they do not dispose of a cooling system, and yet they do a good job cooling down a room.

Navutu Dreams room terrace-min
A green room terrace in Navutu Dreams Resort

Also, a surprising way to naturally cool down a room is to put plants in it. By consuming hot air for their natural process, plants can decrease the room’s temperature up to 10 degrees and enable you to cut down your costs. They will also make the room look greener. The top cooling plants are ficus, aloe vera and areca palm.

Make sure to not use electricity for empty rooms

An efficient way to help you save energy is to opt for the key card solution. Install a device that switches on and off the lights and electronic devices thanks to a card holder. Each key card holder costs around $5 and can reduce electricity up to 30%. It also simplifies work for employees, who do not have to check electrical devices that might have been left on.

In the common areas, the ideal is to install daylight & occupancy sensors. The first one is going to adjust the light intensity in the room depending on how naturally lit up it is. The second will switch on and off the lights in a room depending on if it detects movement. One device costs between 10 and 40 dollars but is worth it as it can reduce up to 40% of your yearly energy consumption. ATS Cambodia has actually many solutions that can help you reduce your energy consumption, whether you are a budget hotel or a luxurious one. Saving costs while being better for the environment, what is there to lose?

Switch to solar energy

Besides these initiatives, you can also switch to solar energy. Cambodia being a sunny country, your solar panels will be put to use. Many hotels in Cambodia are making the switch, such as Anjali by Syphon, Navutu Dreams Resort, or House Boutique Eco Hotel where photovoltaic panels enable to heat their hot water. In addition, this can also improve your image towards customers! There are many companies in Cambodia that can help you go solar such as NGR Cambodia, Kamworks, or Solar Cambodia.

Solar panels on the House Boutique Eco Hotel
Solar panels on the roof of House Boutique Eco Hotel

Preserve water

Cambodia has seen a major drought in 2019, and these heat episodes will only intensify in the years to come due to climate change. Cambodia is actually ranked in the top 10 of countries the most vulnerable to climate change in the world, and amongst the top 3 in Asia. So taking actions to reduce water consumption is important.

Reduce water use in the bathrooms

There are many simple ways to reduce water consumption. Since the major part of it is due to guests’ use, start to take actions in the bedrooms. First, fix leaks : a single toilet leak can make you lose thousands of litres per day!

Also, invest in low flow features for the bathrooms. They are cheap and easy to install, and can make you save up to 30% of your normal water consumption. They exist for taps, shower heads and toilets.

You can also provide a unique and fun guest experience by using efficient shower heads from Hydrao that change color (from green to red) depending on the amount of water used by guests, which can contribute significantly to reducing water consumption.

The director of the Hostelling International mentioned that “if each guest showers for 30 seconds less, [the hotel] saves around one million gallons of water each year,”. Despite the initial investment, the costs are often rapidly offset (after one year for Hydrao’s intelligent shower heads).

There are also low cost solutions such as putting a bottle in the toilet tank, so that it uses less water when flushing. It’s a simple solution, but it’s efficient !

Be smart when watering the plant and use rainwater

Avoid watering plants during the day. Water will evaporate before penetrating the soil because of the heat, and will possibly burn your plants and grass. Prefer the early evening to do so, and don’t water the plants if it has rained a lot during the day already (that might sound logical but many hotels are still watering plants during rainy days!).

In addition, you can harvest rainwater. Collect it in a barrel linked to your downspout, or in a tank either on your roof or in your garden. You can use the water for watering the plants, for example. Collecting some of the water you use will make you more independent, and contribute to money savings.

10.000 litre rainwater tank
10.000 litre rainwater tank

Swimming pool

Is having a swimming pool and being eco-friendly compatible ? Well, despite that traditional pools are usually not eco-friendly, there are many actions that can be taken to reduce water use. As always when it comes to saving energy or water, regularly check for leaks. Check the pump room floor, ladders (as leaks can be due to loose fixtures), underwater tiles but also the floor around the pool. If there are any cracks or if the floor remains wet when there is no swimmer, you may have a leak. Since Cambodia is a warm country, cover the pool when not in use to avoid water evaporation and protect it from the dirt. Also, prefer a backwash system that recapture water instead than one that just flushes it away.

To avoid using chlorine, switch to salted water (like Anjali by Syphon has). You add salt to your pool water, and the salt chlorine generator converts it to chlorine. Salt chlorine generators typically cost $1,700–$2,500 upfront and last about 3–7 years. They’re easy to maintain, keep the water clear, and annually cost less than traditional chlorine.

If you can, opt for a system of purification by plants. In a bio swimming pool, all the processes of cleaning and maintenance are performed through biological filters and plants. So maintenance costs are less high than for a conventional pool, and the installation costs are not higher. The pool is never emptied and filled, as with traditional pools, so no water is spoiled. Moreover, you can design your own pool and create a unique look for your hotel.

Natural swimming pool
Plant-filtered swimming pool

Reduce and sort your waste

Sorting out waste is often difficult because of the lack of information and equipment, but you can make it less obscure. First, provide recycling bins in the kitchen and in the back office for your staff. You can also put tags on the bins saying what goes where.

Think about using your organic waste as compost for your garden to replace chemical fertilizer. It is easy to do but needs also a bit of maintenance.

Want to ensure that your staff sort out the waste appropriately? Make sure to train them about waste management, and make them understand why it is so important to reduce waste but also recycle it. Implement rewards for the employees if they sort the waste well and give ideas about how your hotel can further reduce its waste. We never say it enough: engaging your staff in your green actions can have a tremendous effect on your hotel’s impact but also on their own actions !

Were you aware there are plenty of businesses that can take charge of your hard-to-recycle items ?

Eco Soap Bank collect your guests’ used soap bars and process them into new ones. They will then provide hospitals, clinics, schools, orphanages and village communities in soap.

Your used cooking oil can also be employed to do good: give it to Naga Earth, a local NGO, that will convert it to biodiesel and soap. Naga Earth also collects glass bottles in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.

Soap box from Naga Earth
Soap box from Naga Earth

Promote eco-friendly places and transportation to your guests

After all these efforts you made, you are eager to involve your guests in the green movement ? Show them they can help you make a difference. Offer them bikes they can use whenever they want for their visits around the city, meals etc.. Every bike-ride is as much less CO2 in the air !

Try your best as well to orientate them towards eco-friendly and responsible places. You can for instance tell them about Clean Green Cambodia and/or leave a booklet at the reception or in their rooms with sustainable cafes, restaurants, shops as well as tips for them to be more responsible travelers (bring your reusable bag, reusable bottle, be Child Safe and so on). It will contribute to bringing more awareness on environmental issues and their solutions in Cambodia. This will also make people talk more about your place!

What do you think about our article? Any other tips for hotels to be more eco-friendly? Feel free to comment below and share this article on social media if you liked it ! Did you like this article ? Share it on the social media, and read more here.

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