Why is it necessary to discuss sustainability in the hotel industry? What added value does it represent for stakeholders?
We discussed this on November 30th at the offices of ESA Engineering in Milan. The talk event, endorsed by GRESB and sponsored by Bizaway, addressed an incredibly complex topic, balancing sustainable design/management of accommodation facilities, the demands of an increasingly discerning clientele, and the new challenges imposed by the market.
Leonardo Gloor, Hospitality & International Growth at Dils, moderated the meeting. The speakers who shared the current state of the art and offered their perspectives were:
- Maria Chiara Di Vincenzo – Architetto e Real Estate Developer – IGEFI
- Mauro Vinci – Senior Director Business Development Italy – Radisson Hotels
- Michele Bradanini – Technical & Quality Leader, Sustainability Dept. – ESA engineering
The session was opened with an introduction by Michele Bradanini, who outlined the company’s long-term commitment to an integrated approach to design.
“Sustainability in hotels poses a design challenge for ESA – we are indeed dealing with buildings with the highest energy consumption and emission producers. At the same time, it is one of the usage destinations where ensuring high standards of comfort for end-users is of utmost importance.”
Environmental certifications, such as the well-known LEED and BREEAM, are valuable tools, but it is important that they are used judiciously to achieve reasoned goals, taking into account the context and possible innovative solutions to deploy.
In terms of well-being in hospitality, the WELL certification ensures healthy spaces and comfort for guests. However, it is a relatively recent protocol, primarily focused on office functions. Therefore, when applied to the hotel sector, it poses challenges and may present various difficulties.
Which strategies are currently in place? How important is raising awareness among end-users?
Mauro Vinci provided an operational perspective on how to reconcile customer expectations and the significant challenges for effectively raising awareness among customers on sustainability issues.
“In fact, people’s sensitivity and awareness are increasing, also following the energy crisis we have experienced. Clearly, expectations have changed differently across various segments. The strategy cannot be the same when referring to 3-star hotels, 5-star hotels, or Luxury 5-star hotels.”
Each case should be individually determined, but the foundational guidelines are based on: monitoring energy consumption, increasing the use of alternative energies, and the complete electrification of structures
Maria Chiara Di Vincenzo enriched the debate from the investment perspective. Responding to the question “Why invest in sustainability?“, she highlighted ethical reasons, the relevance of ESG policies, and emerging regulatory obligations. Financial benefits for investors arise from operational efficiency, increased investment attractiveness, and risk reduction.
Market demands are clear. “Today, tenants require every building to adopt and meet ESG criteria (Environmental, Social, and Governance). At the same time, investors are required to comply with increasingly stringent standards. Another push in this direction is due to the European SFDR (Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation), which obliges financial operators to provide investors with information on sustainability through a verification of alignment of their investments with European taxonomy.”
Overall, the event was a valuable moment of discussion and learning, highlighting how sustainability in hotels is a complex but necessary path for the present and future of the industry.