I wrote this paper in the final semester of my masters program at Harvard Graduate School of Design. It talks, as the name suggests, about hotels during the recession and the effect recession had on their eco-friendliness.
Here is an abstract of the paper:
For the purpose of this study, I considered what makes or defines a hotel as green, how costly and how effective would it be to build green hotels and whether or not the guests or users want to pay a premium for a green hotel over a regular hotel.
I also talked to developers, hotel owners and green experts to see whether all the cost-cutting during the economic downturn has led to developers trying to invest more in green products and building techniques (for lower life-cycle costs) or invest more in other products (that may not necessarily be eco-friendly, but ensure lower initial costs).
Consecutively, I researched on how the trend of the sustainable and eco-friendly buildings has been affecting the hotel industry in general. As far as commercial buildings go, saving the environment doesn't stop just at the building stage, but needs to go on during operations as well.
I concluded by taking the example of the number of LEED-registered hotels and mapped out the trends in green hotel building during the last ten years, both in the US and worldwide, and also compared them for the big hotel brands too.
Here is an abstract of the paper:
Hotels and guests have changed over the last decade in terms of being eco-friendly. The hotels have begun to provide in-room thermostats, recycle-bins, shampoo and lotion dispensers. They have started educating guests on how much water and electricity they can save.
As customers are also getting more and more aware of sustainability issues and the world is trying to get greener, developers and building owners are increasingly turning toward eco-friendly buildings.
While lagging behind a little bit, hotel developers considered it necessary to keep up with the sustainable movement. The last few years have seen the maximum growth in the number of LEED-registered hotels and eco-friendly hotel chains. Today most, if not all, of the luxury hotel brands in the United States have properties that are either going for LEED certification, or other green-hotel certification, or simply adopting green practices in their operations.
But at the same time, when the world saw an onset of recession, there came an increasing pressure from stakeholders and lenders to cut down budgets of all new projects, not excluding the hospitality industry. And while all this was happening, hoteliers still needed to cater to the demand for increase in the “luxury” factor from local and international travelers.
Therefore, this paper intends to be an analysis of green hotels and how the juxtaposition of the green movement and global economic downturn affected the hospitality industry. Overall, it will study these effects through a question “Did the recession make the “green” hotels any (un)greener?”
The paper covers topics on introduction and history of green hotels, green initiatives by hotels, costs of development of green hotels and whether or not the guests care. It then analyzes the number LEED-registered hotels in the US in the past decade, and the percentage they are of the total hotels built. The growth in the number of LEED registered hotels of most prominent hotel brands in the US has also been analyzed.
Such a study can find out, or attempt to find out, the discrepancy between what eco-friendliness means to the hotel developers and to the end-users and how that gap can be bridged. Also, an analysis on the effects of recession on hotels can help us understand how hotel budgets can be manipulated to help maintain their eco-friendliness. It can help developers draw on the theory “being green can also mean being profitable”.