May 20, 2024

Leading the way

Already ahead in the sustainability stakes, serviced apartments are taking strides to become even greener, says Catherine Chetwynd

When it comes to travelling more sustainably, serviced apartments are a step ahead of the game. Compared with hotels, they have much lower food waste and fewer communal areas to light, heat or cool with air conditioning. In addition, operators are installing more efficient boilers, providing eco-friendly laundry products and giving the option for less frequent housekeeping.

“Sustainability is no longer a box ticking exercise. Corporates need to see evidence that providers are adopting sustainable business practices,” says Kerry Douglas, Head of Programme for ITM.

“In ITM’s 2022 survey of buyer members, 60% said they require suppliers to meet sustainable targets and 72% of buyers said suppliers with science-based targets would have an advantage in securing their business.”

The trend is backed up by figures from Mansley Serviced Apartments. “More than 60% of RFPs contain ESG/sustainability related questions and at least 50% about specific credentials or certifications,” says Head of Sales and Marketing, Clive Dlima.

The shift to fewer, longer trips, often with family, also has a positive impact on the environment and plays to the strengths of serviced apartments, which have more space and allow greater independence at a more wallet-friendly price.

The debate at SilverDoor’s 2022 Partner Engagement Day showed corporates would pay more for sustainability improvement.

But better communication is required, says Group Head of Partner Relationships for SilverDoor, Alex Neale.

“While many property providers are making great progress with sustainability best practice, they are not necessarily communicating that – and with data. We are comfortable telling businesses they need to pay more but it’s critical they have the data to support those conversations.”

Zero emissions

Those that are beating the drum include Lamington Group’s room2, which opened the first whole life net zero ‘hometel’ in Chiswick at the end of 2021 and plans to open three new properties in Belfast, Fulham and Liverpool in 2023. All emissions associated with its production and build, materials used, operations, maintenance, refurbishment, and even the eventual clearance of the building, will equal zero.

The company has also signed the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism.

“The space is a  minefield of information, with corporates at a loss on what is accurate and what is fabricated”

Reducing energy use by 15% by 2025 is Frasers’ objective, and paperless check-in at some properties has brought both a 40% improvement in operational efficiency and up to 40% drop in paper use. Meanwhile, a smart adjustment of air conditioning and lighting brings electricity savings of 10% and 90% of the group’s properties has phased out single-use plastics. It will reduce water use by 20% in Singapore properties by 2030.

The business has also committed to five outcomes by 2050: to become net zero, to be climate resilient and install mitigation plans by 2024, to green certify 80% of owned and managed assets by 2024 and to bring in green and sustainable financing by 2024. It has already met one goal by training all employees on sustainability by 2021.

STAY serviced apartments in London’s Camden has achieved a Gold Award from Green Tourism for initiatives that include a minimum of 95% recycling and reuse, with waste transferred on canal barges rather than by road. It has also introduced Smart Green meters to reduce energy consumption, is selecting suppliers with reasonable environmental social and ethical standards, and is protecting colleague welfare through an employee assistance programme.

Mansley Serviced Apartments is working with Green Tourism to achieve a gold medal rating. Measures include replacing old boilers, switching to LED lights and using eco-friendly cleaning materials. In future, guests will be able to opt out of daily housekeeping, with savings donated to WWF.

Step by step

‘Be More Starfish’ is Situ’s campaign to promote the idea that small steps can make a difference, like the young man who threw beached starfish back into the sea one by one, rather than being daunted by the task.

“Starfish holds Situ’s promises, objectives, achievements, and actions in one place, including work to encourage key stakeholder groups to take action and make a difference,” says founder and MD Phil Stapleton. 

“CORPORATES NEED TO SEE EVIDENCE THAT PROVIDERS ARE ADOPTING SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS PRACTICES”

Staycity developed an ESG strategy in 2021 based on greenhouse gas emissions, health and wellbeing, and waste management. It identified 13 workstreams via the UN Sustainable Development Goals with short, medium and longer terms objectives to 2030. The company is measuring and documenting its energy, carbon, water and waste use and emissions, both directly through operating buildings and indirectly through purchasing.

Jo Layton, CEO CAP Worldwide and co-Chair of CHPA’s sustainability committee, says the industry needs standardised emissions information. “Only when a formal global measurement of emissions by unit per night for all serviced apartment operators can be provided to an agent at the time of booking, will global agents be able to offer corporate buyers a trusted and comparable emission count for their programmes,” she says.

Vivi Cahyadi Himmel, CEO and co-founder AltoVita, believes: “The space is a minefield of information, with corporates at a loss on what is accurate and what is fabricated.”

AltoVita reports on qualitative measures and requests evidence, with photographic evidence geotagged to ensure accuracy.

See our 2023 Guide to Serviced Apartments

Wilde Edinburgh