Energy Management Strategies for Achieving Net Zero in Hospitality

Man selecting net zero as a strategy

In the quest for sustainability, the hospitality sector faces a unique set of challenges and opportunities. Energy management is key to this journey, helping reduce environmental impact and save money at the same time.Implementing effective energy management strategies is very important, especially in an industry characterised by high energy consumption. Achieving net zero in hospitality not only aligns with global environmental goals but also enhances the sector’s attractiveness to the increasingly eco-conscious consumer.

This article will guide you through understanding the concept of net zero within the hospitality context, outlining actionable steps to achieve this ambitious goal. You will explore ways to overcome the common challenges encountered during the transition, paving the way for a smoother and more efficient adaptation process. We’ll also take a look at future trends and recommendations, offering insights into how the hospitality industry can continue to innovate and lead in sustainability. This roadmap will equip you with the necessary knowledge and tools to make energy management a cornerstone of your sustainability strategy.

Understanding Net Zero in Hospitality

Definition of Net Zero

Net-Zero carbon emissions signify an activity that releases net-zero carbon emissions into the atmosphere, aiming for a balance between the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) released and the amount removed from the atmosphere. This concept is crucial for the hospitality industry as it navigates towards sustainability, emphasising the need for operations that emit no carbon from the start, eliminating the need for carbon to be captured or offset. The SBTi Net-Zero Standard offers guidance and tools for companies, including those in hospitality, to set science-based net-zero targets, addressing emissions across their full value chain.

Importance for the Hospitality Industry

The hospitality sector, despite accounting for a relatively small amount of global carbon emissions, plays a significant role in the global economy and faces a substantial environmental impact. Achieving net zero is identified as the most ambitious sustainability strategy, essential for keeping global warming within 1.5°C. It requires the hospitality industry to not only reduce its own direct emissions but also to engage in carbon removal to balance out any emissions produced, without relying on third-party voluntary carbon credits. This approach is vital for the sector’s contribution to combating climate change and meeting global net-zero emissions goals.

Distinction from Carbon Neutrality

While both carbon neutrality and net zero aim to address carbon emissions, there are key differences between them. Carbon neutrality focuses on cancelling out a company’s own emissions using carbon credits, whereas net zero goes beyond this by seeking a complete balance between emissions produced and emissions removed from the atmosphere by the organisation themselves. For the hospitality industry, this distinction highlights the importance of not just offsetting emissions but actively reducing them and engaging in carbon removal practices.

Understanding Net Zero

Steps to Achieve Net Zero

1. Assessing the Carbon Footprint

To begin your journey towards net zero, first assess the total carbon footprint of your hospitality business. This includes all energy used on-site, emissions from refrigerants, and, any emissions from outsourced operations like laundry. You can use tools like the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative (HCMI) to calculate your footprint per occupied room and per area of meeting space, to help understand your impact, benchmarking, and setting measurable targets.

2. Setting Science-Based Targets

Align your decarbonisation goals with global standards by setting science-based targets. This involves tracking your emissions and designing a strategy that is consistent with climate science. For broader acceptance and validation, align with standards such as the Corporate Net-Zero Standard, which provides a clear and science-based definition of net-zero. Engage your supply chains in your decarbonisation journey by setting supplier engagement targets that cover a significant portion of your scope 3 emissions.

Energy management for hospitality

3. Developing a Decarbonisation Roadmap

Develop a scalable decarbonisation roadmap that includes both immediate and long-term actions. Start by implementing measures with a short payback period, such as upgrading to LED lighting or servicing boilers regularly. For long-term strategies, consider larger investments like installing energy-efficient appliances or a building management system. Iberostar’s roadmap for decarbonisation, which includes a commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, serves as a practical example for others in the industry.

4. Implementing Energy Efficiency Measures

Reduce energy consumption across various operational areas such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and lighting by adopting energy-efficient technologies and practices. This includes installing low-flow taps, insulating pipes, and using occupancy sensors for lighting. Such measures not only cut costs but also contribute to a significant reduction in your carbon footprint, aligning with net-zero objectives.

EMMA AI helps businesses to identify trends in energy usage and highlights any irregularities in energy consumption and the necessary corrective actions. By analysing half-hourly electricity and gas feeds, EMMA AI identifies areas where energy is being wasted and comes up with actionable steps. The platform directly informs on-site Managers and employees how to prevent this waste via simple, human-like automated emails. EMMA AI works as an integral solution to a business’s overall energy and carbon reduction strategy.

5. Investing in Renewable Energy

Transition to renewable energy sources like solar or wind power to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and stabilise energy costs. Consider installing solar panels as they not only reduce operational costs but also appeal to eco-conscious consumers. Explore government incentives for renewable energy to minimise initial costs and invest in energy storage systems to enhance energy resilience. Establishments like Mitchells & Butlers have successfully adopted solar energy, aiming to generate a significant portion of their energy consumption through these means.

By following these steps and continuously monitoring and adjusting your strategies, you can effectively move towards achieving net zero in the hospitality sector.

Renewable energy sources

Overcoming Challenges in the Transition

Financial Barriers

One of the significant obstacles in achieving net zero within the hospitality industry is financial constraints. Smaller properties often struggle with the high costs associated with making substantial infrastructure changes necessary for energy and water efficiency. To address this, exploring government incentives and innovative financing solutions such as zero-interest loans or green funds can be crucial. These financial aids can help alleviate the burden of upfront costs associated with transitioning to net zero.

Stakeholder Engagement

Engaging stakeholders effectively is vital in the net zero journey. Building a convincing business case that aligns with the interests of various stakeholders, including investors, customers, and employees, is essential. Investors are increasingly considering environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in their decision-making processes, making it crucial to present a clear, science-based strategy for emissions reduction. Additionally, educating and involving employees in sustainability practices increases their engagement and productivity, thereby accelerating progress towards net zero.

Data Collection and Quality

Accurate and comprehensive data collection is fundamental to informed decision-making in the transition to net zero. Many organisations face challenges due to incomplete or inaccessible data on their carbon emissions. Implementing robust systems for data collection and ensuring the quality of this data are critical. Tools like carbon accounting software can aid in accurately calculating and validating an organisation’s carbon footprint, enhancing the credibility and effectiveness of net zero strategies.

Stakeholder engagement

Future Trends and Recommendations

Policy Changes and Compliance

In response to increasing regulatory pressures and customer demands for sustainable practices, significant policy changes are underway. From 2023, all hospitality businesses in England are required to separate food waste from general waste. Continuous monitoring and improvement of climate commitments are essential to align with these new regulations and enhance the sector’s sustainability efforts.

Technological Innovations

The hospitality industry is witnessing a surge in sustainable technology adoption. Investments in energy-efficient technologies, such as LED lighting and solar panels, not only reduce environmental impact but also offer long-term financial benefits. Advanced energy storage solutions and smart grids are becoming crucial for managing intermittent renewable energy sources and improving energy resilience. Additionally, digital solutions like card readers and digital check-ins are minimising the use of plastic and paper, further contributing to sustainability.

Building a Sustainable Corporate Culture

Creating a culture of continuous improvement is vital for adapting to evolving industry trends and guest preferences. This involves assessing the current organisational culture, defining clear objectives for improvement, and involving all employees in the change process. Recognising and celebrating achievements in sustainability practices can enhance employee engagement and retention, which is crucial in the high-turnover hospitality sector.

Looking to the future


 Achieving net zero in the hospitality sector requires a comprehensive approach that includes assessing carbon footprints, setting science-based targets, creating a decarbonisation roadmap, improving energy efficiency, and leveraging renewable energy. These steps not only help reduce environmental impact but also offer significant economic benefits.

Implementing these strategies can position the hospitality industry as a leader in global sustainability efforts. However, overcoming challenges like financial barriers, engaging stakeholders, and ensuring accurate data collection is crucial. Continuous improvement, adapting to policy changes, and incorporating new technologies will further enable the sector to reach its net-zero goals.

EMMA AI can be a key part of this journey by providing real-time insights, predictive analysis, and automated recommendations to optimize energy usage. By integrating EMMA AI into your energy management strategy, you can enhance efficiency, save on costs, and contribute to a sustainable future.

Consider EMMA AI as your partner in achieving a profitable and environmentally responsible operation, ensuring your business stays ahead in the evolving global economy.

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