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Corporate Responsibility Report
Green Engage is our Group-wide online sustainability management system
Paul Snyder, our VP of CR and IHG's Global lead on Environmental Sustainability, explains how the system works and how it is playing a key role in helping IHG achieve its CR goals.
What is Green Engage?
Green Engage is our comprehensive online sustainability system. It tells our hotels what they can do to be a 'green' hotel and gives them the means to conserve resources and save money – by measuring, managing and reporting on their hotel energy, water and waste consumption, as well as benchmarking and the ability to create action plans to track progress. We believe this offers a huge advantage to owners for whom energy is the second largest cost in their hotels. It also puts us in a strong position to respond to rising energy prices and any future carbon taxes IHG and our hotels may face.
Green Engage proves the value of our commitment to innovation and collaboration. We look for better ways to manage our carbon footprint than merely offsetting emissions and we engage with our partners to create a 'green' culture where owners actively explore solutions that enhance their business.
In 2011 Green Engage became aligned to LEED making us the first hotel company to have an existing hotel programme approved for LEED pre-certification. Find out more about our LEED alignment of Green Engage.
How does Green Engage work?
Hotels input their site data into Green Engage. The system automatically generates reports and an energy benchmark so that hotels can compare their performance to other hotels. Green Engage then provides 'green solutions', advising both new-build and existing hotels on the specific actions they need to take to reduce their impacts, depending on their climatic location.
The advice offered covers every aspect of the hotel lifecycle from picking a suitable site, to selecting the correct lighting for the hotel through to choosing responsible cleaning materials and providing staff training on sustainability. The return on investment, carbon reduction and potential impact on our guests is calculated for each action item suggested.
Finally, the system produces reports which allow IHG to review an individual hotel's progress.
What kind of benefits is Green Engage bringing?
Green Engage can help our hotels be up to 25% more energy efficient. At the time of writing we have over 2,270 hotels signed up to the system. If all the hotels in our 4,500-strong portfolio achieved 25% in energy savings, the estimated aggregate savings for hotel owners could be over $300 million.
We believe Green Engage gives us a significant competitive edge. It makes our hotels cost-effective and ultimately allows us to improve the value of service we offer our guests, who tell us they would prefer to stay in a green hotel. We also know that our Green Engage hotels are beginning to drive new business through their sustainability commitments. Thanks to Green Engage, IHG won a corporate contract worth 3,000 room nights – £300,000 a year over a period of seven years.
- Watch our video, aired on CNBC, and find out how two of our hotels are benefiting from Green Engage.
- You can also read how the Holiday Inn Salisbury Stonehenge in the UK is using Green Engage to cut their environmental impacts and costs.
How does Green Engage integrate with existing green building certifications?
Green Engage is a point-based metric system, like LEED, BREEAM and Green Globes. These systems establish both a minimum level of sustainability and outline opportunities for improvement. But Green Engage goes further, providing ongoing tracking, reporting and analysis as well as point-based certifications. We believe this sets Green Engage apart in that it encourages improved performance and recommends solutions to sustainability challenges.
In some cases, Green Engage can be linked with external certifications. For example, hotels can earn credit in Green Engage by gaining certification with the Green Restaurant Association's Certified Green Restaurant® Program. In the United States and Canada, all InterContinental hotels have achieved this certification:
This makes InterContinental Hotels & Resorts the first hotel brand to have all of its locations in North America become Certified Green Restaurants®.
What next for Green Engage?
The original pilot went live in 2009. The system was quickly extended to our entire owned and managed estate and then opened up to any other hotels who wanted to participate. We had a good uptake and hope to maintain this momentum. In 2011 we developed version 2.0 of Green Engage, based on user feedback about making the system easier to use.
Green Engage is an evolving tool and our dedicated Green Engage Council and Working Group will continue to recommend enhancements to the system. Insights from a recent content focused Usability Study will also help us develop the system. We appreciate that some of our hotels have limited resources for this sort of activity. To help them we will be making the system more intuitive with user-friendly functionality. In 2012, we rolled out a carbon calculator as part of Green Engage to help individual hotels monitor and minimise their carbon footprint.
Throughout this site there are examples of how Green Engage is already benefiting IHG and individual hotels. We will continue to report on how more and more hotels are using Green Engage to achieve real benefits. We will continue to expand Green Engage further into our franchised estate.
Q&A with the Holiday Inn Select San Antonio Airport (SATAP)
A herb garden on the roof of the Holiday Inn at San Antonio Airport is watered by wastewater from the air conditioning system.
Why did SATAP sign up to Green Engage?
The hotel had already set out on its ‘green journey’ and partnering with IHG on Green Engage just made sense. Prior to the development of Green Engage, our environmental programme covered water consumption reduction, recycling and energy saving; by signing up for Green Engage we have expanded our programme significantly.
How have you been using the system?
We first started using the system mainly for reporting purposes, but as the site continued to develop, it has become a learning tool and action planning system.
What are some of the big initiatives you've undertaken as a result of using Green Engage?
Our water-saving programme started with low flow toilets: with Green Engage it expanded into finding additional ways to water our landscape without using City water. We capture air conditioning (AC) condensate, pool backwash and chilling tower blow-down water to water our landscape. We also researched roof-top gardens and implemented a roof-top herb garden watered by AC condensate.
How are you encouraging guests to behave in a more sustainable way?
We have a recycling bin in each guest room, and a letter on the desk detailing our programmes and success in each category: water, recycling and energy. We also encourage guests with information such as ‘did you know, on average, 3 USA Today newspapers = 1 lb... please help us recycle’. We also have associated material about our towel re-use programme, and a nifty little sign on the dual-flush toilet – to push the right button.
What are some of the benefits you've found from using Green Engage?
Our statistics from 2008 clearly indicate the business impact of effective resource management. Our water-saving programme reduced consumption from 202 gallons per occupied room to 120, saving over 7 million gallons of water. Our recycling programme is a full single stream programme starting from every guestroom. We recycled 83.5 tonnes of material. The hotel retrofitted all lighting ballasts to accommodate CFL light bulbs instead of incandescent light bulbs – saving 553,000 kWh in a year.
From a staff standpoint, we have had many employees tell us that they never recycled at home until the hotel started doing it, and they feel good about doing it.
What are some of the challenges you've experienced in terms of creating a more sustainable hotel?
We started our journey through the ‘school of hard knocks’. We picked one thing – recycling newspapers – and started a programme. The biggest challenge has been finding vendors willing to support the programmes – we were in the vanguard of some of these ideas in our market.
How could Green Engage be improved?
Developing the central training programme/work so hotels can benchmark themselves against similar properties and share best practice.
How could IHG and the CR team help support you more in your general sustainability efforts?
We think IHG has done a great job of telling hotels about Green Engage, but there needs to be more done to expand the initiatives at the property level.
What are your plans for Green Engage?
We continue to expand our programmes as we learn more. We are currently piloting a food composting programme with other hotels and restaurants in the area. We have started planting some of our landscape with food-bearing plots that can be utilised in the hotel kitchen or by the staff. Spring will include the expansion of our roof-top garden. We are planning on handing out seed packets at the front desk with seeds from the herb garden as a parting gift to departing guests. Another spring programme – ‘What's the buzz at the Holiday Inn?’ is a beehive to help our garden. If we’re lucky, our gift shop will sell Holiday Inn Honey.
Green Engage, fantastic programme. We started measuring – what we do, how we do, where to improve and looking at the steps to reduce our numbers in consumption of energy…we managed to save 10% year on year on our energy consumption which helped to reduce expenses and produce better profits.
Mathieu van Alphen,
General Manager InterContinental Budapest