For more than 30 years, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, the winner of Kostuch Media Ltd’s 2023 Green Leadership Award for Outstanding Commitment to Environmental Stewardship, has been an environmental leader among eco-friendly hotels. As one of the first luxury hotel brands to achieve emission-reduction targets, it has embraced the sustainability initiatives developed by its parent company, Accor.
From housing rooftop beehives to innovative water-reduction techniques, the brand has long been recognized as having one of the most comprehensive eco-friendly programs in the North-American hotel industry.
In fact, the forward-thinking team at Fairmont wrote the book on sustainability in the hospitality industry — literally — with its first edition of the Green Partnership Guide. Today, as one of several brands owned by Accor, the company has continued to strengthen its mandate for environmental stewardship, placing sustainability at the heart of its overall business strategy
“Both Fairmont and Accor have a long-standing history in sustainability stewardship,” says Marina Elsener director, Sustainability & DEI at Accor. “The Green Partnership program was built around the notion of collaboration. And this was a roadmap for organizations across our industry on how to green their operations. Collaboration really is key when it comes to driving sustainability forward.”
Following the success of the program, the company was not content to rest on its laurels, and continued introducing sustainability initiatives at every level of its operations.
In 2022, Accor, along with Fairmont, launched its School for Change program, an ambitious training program that has provided Fairmont and Accor employees with access to a training path focused on the fundamentals of climate change. This aims to improve individuals’ understanding of the causes of climate change and its impact on biodiversity and communities, and facilitates the sharing of solutions to create positive change at every level.
Caring for the planet isn’t something the Fairmont team takes lightly, recognizing that being sustainable isn’t just a matter of turning off lights or planting an organic garden, although these are important. The hotel brand prioritizes six key pillars to drive its sustainability programs: guests; people; partners; communities; buildings; and food.
The company’s goal, says Elsener, is “to embed sustainability into the way we do business. Sustainability is the responsibility of everyone, regardless of your department, division or level. In order to bring that to light, we need to ensure that our teams feel empowered to take action and work together with our stakeholders.”
In continuing to set the industry standards in sustainable practices, Accor and Fairmont have announced the goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions and Accor is the first international hotel group to make a long-term commitment to de-carbonize all its operations and achieve net zero by 2050, including a 46 per cent emission reduction by 2030, validated by the science-based Targets initiative.
Given that more than 60 per cent of the group’s carbon footprint is energy related, accelerating energy transition is central to this commitment and depends on a low energy, low-carbon approach. This includes promoting a low-carbon mindset with all its supply chain, and fully transitioning to smart, sustainably designed hotels, as well as accelerating the use of green energy.
“When we look at how we approach this, our roadmap is built around four pillars,” explains Elsener. “The first is promoting low-cardon mindset through measurements, targets and training; prioritizing low-carbon procurement; and circularity to reduce carbon emissions across our value chain. The second pillar is energy efficiency, which involves implementing energy-efficiency upgrades, electrifying our hotels, enhancing design standards to improve building performance. The third pillar is related to renewable-energy procurement and our fourth pillar is providing offerings to our guests and clients to balance our emissions today.”
On the food side, the company has banned six endangered fish species and implemented a healthy and sustainable food charter with the aim to nurture an appetite for healthy and sustainable food and waste-free diet.
Across its hotel portfolio, Accor/Fairmont has introduced the “plant-for-the-planet” initiative to encourage guests to re-use their towels and linens. In return, half of the company’s savings in this area are directed to re-forestation efforts, resulting in 7.5 million trees being planted around the world.
Fairmont’s newest initiative is a digital pilot at five of its hotels, where it has installed cameras and hive-tracking devices. This state-of-the-art technology tracks the number of visiting bees and the distance they travel each day. Teams then collect data on the honey and analyze the flower, tree and plant nectars the bees prefer and compare this data to the classification of colour and grade of the honey according to the Pfund scale.
Accor opens a new hotel every day on average, and renovates hundreds every year, always integrating sustainability criteria in its constructions and renovations. It is increasingly converting existing hotels into Accor properties, in line with its circular economy mindset.
“We have re-examined all of our brand standards to align them with some of the most ambitious sustainability goals in our industry, adds Elsener, adding that designing low-energy buildings using low-carbon materials and improving buildings’ efficiency has become top priority.
Some examples of the company’s sustainable design features include eco-designed beds made from wood-sourced from sustainably-managed forests (FSC certified), as well as bedspreads and pillowcases made from recycled bottles; eco-certified soap, shower gel and shampoo available in guestrooms; and the use of environmentally friendly, eco-certified cleaning products.
So, is all the company’s hard work actually making a difference? The answer is a resounding yes. Overall results have been stellar. To date, 70 per cent of the company’s hotels are Green-Key certified; 97 per cent of its employees are trained in sustainability; and 84 per cent of global hotels have featured zero-use plastics in the guest experience in 2022.
“This really is all due to the hard work of our hotel teams to bring Accor’s ambition and vision to life,” says Elsener.
BY AMY BOSTOCK