Opportunities for sustainability in the hospitality and leisure sector

What does your hotel stay cost the planet? The CO2 emissions for an average hotel room are 31.1kg / night. This is roughly the same as that of a family home per day. Furthermore, the annual cost of food waste in the hospitality sector is £3 billion. With the effects of global warming more evident than ever before and the rising cost of energy prices, it is clear the sector has a critical role to play in mitigating climate change.

In May 2018 Edie released a report on the state of sustainability in the hospitality and leisure sector. The report evaluates to what extent low-carbon, resource-efficient business models have been embedded using results from a survey of various UK hospitality and leisure firms including some of the big industry names.

Some of the key findings are displayed below.


Of organisations are more committed to sustainability than they were 12 months ago


Of organisations identified Engagement Programmes as the one of the top significant sustainability investments for their business


Of organisations identified Energy Efficiency Upgrades as one of the top significant sustainability investments for their business


Of organisations listed an ambitious resource and waste strategy as a top priority for the government over the next 12 months

Whilst there is clear ambition and commitment within the sector, Edie’s report flags a number of potential barriers.

However, with every challenge there comes an opportunity.

42% of organisations find external behaviour change difficult

To combat this, visual messaging was noted as an ‘extremely effective tool’ for this sector.

Creating a ‘green’ brand can make sustainability exciting, capture people’s hearts and minds and inspire behaviour change.

We’ve worked with Village Hotels since 2011, to design and maintain a behaviour change programme using visual aids.

1 in 10 People in the world’s work will involve the hospitality sector.

So, the impact of resources on the environment extends wide and far

Currently, there is a lack of understanding around supply chain impact and management and transparency is perceived as a key challenge within the industry.

In order to clarify the impact your business is having on the environment, a first step should be to quantify your emissions in order to define targets and implement a strategy. We have helped many organisations to report on their annual Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG).

15-18% increases in cost are expected for the sector this year

Energy management is a major focus for hospitality operators, with the sectors, with annual energy costs of approximately £457m per year.

To manage a growing business and mitigate against cost increases it’s vital to set clear targets. Twelve companies in the hospitality sector have set or committed to a Science Based Target, recognizing the importance of aligning their targets with climate science. We helped 2 of the only 5 companies in the world to set and achieve a science based target, one of which was Tesco.

Limited Resources

Sustainability and energy practitioners within hospitality & leisure are being forced to make do with limited resources

Engaging with staff, providing support and tools to encourage behaviour change can have a massive impact on energy savings and requires little time or technical resource. These little changes to behaviour can have the biggest impact and it is these quick wins that are one of the best returns on investment.

We have worked with numerous organisations, including everyone active to deliver behaviour change programmes; focusing on communication and saving energy through clear and effective measures that individuals can lead without detailed technical knowledge.


It’s recognised that the hospitality and leisure sector will need to fundamentally improve its approaches to sustainability and energy reduction strategies to fall in line with the levels of carbon reduction and resource efficiency required to mitigate global warming and guarantee security of supply. The business benefit is also clear. Costs savings and an enhanced customer image. Businesses within the sector can achieve up to a 40% reduction in energy costs through energy efficiency measures.