2020 Foresight

Marriott International is seeing green as it looks to the future

By 2020, Marriott International intends to reduce its energy and water consumption by 20 percent throughout its numerous properties.

The company’s efforts to date show promising returns. As of 2015, Marriott had reduced its energy use by 13.2 percent, water use by 10.4 percent, and greenhouse-gas emissions by 13.2 percent—each from 2007 baselines. As of the same year, the company—which includes brands such as Courtyard, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Renaissance, Residence Inn, and Ritz-Carlton—counted 142 of its properties as either LEED registered or certified.

Not content to rest on its laurels, Marriott is also employing outside help to identify ways to further its progress toward its decade-end goals. In 2015, Marriott entered into a partnership with the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) to determine the best ways to chart its progress.

Bing Dong, UTSA’s assistant professor of mechanical engineering, developed proprietary software to capture, model, and analyze real-time occupant behavior and energy consumption data. The tool helps users identify ways to increase energy efficiencies to lower operating costs and utility bills.

In a February 2015 press release, Rob Bahl, Marriott’s vice president of engineering and facilities, said the collaboration with UTSA would help the hotelier long into the future.

“We are very excited to be working with UTSA and Bing’s team to improve our energy conservation processes at Marriott so that we can accomplish our long-term goals for reducing our global energy footprint,” he said in the statement.

According to the Green Lodging News website, Marriott outlined some of the ways in which it’s pushing toward achieving its 2020 goals, such as more energy-conserving lighting and using rainwater for landscaping. The company also now counts more than 263 properties across the United States with electric vehicle-charging stations.

In August 2016, Marriott joined 17 other international hotel groups in launching the Hotel Water Measurement Initiative, a tool by which hotel companies and individual properties can measure and report on water consumption in a consistent way.

Although aspects of energy conservation, such as water retention and charging stations, are some of the big-picture ways of getting efficiency numbers closer to the 20 percent goal in the next three years, Marriott’s also focusing its efforts on a room-by-room basis. The UTSA collaboration can help track occupant behaviors, but a February 2016 agreement with in-room solutions provider Enseo puts the option of being a better environmental steward into the hands of those occupants.

Through the agreement, Enseo provides HDTV and digital signage throughout Marriott properties, and it also will provide high-speed Internet access and remote management tools throughout hotel rooms. This gives guests the ability to control the power remotely by managing energy consumption through either in-room controls or an interface accessible via the room’s TV set.

Moving forward, the company appears to be pushing its sustainable goals not only in the United States, but also through its multiple brands around the world. Updates to the London Heathrow Marriott earned the company the 2016 Green Hotelier Award, and in March 2016, Marriott announced that four of its hotels in Phuket, Thailand, would steer an effort to plant at least 2,700 mangrove pods each quarter, resulting in at least 10,000 new plants in the ground by the end of 2016.

It all amounts to an effort that, as the company explains, “reaches beyond the doors of our hotels to preserve and protect our planet’s natural resources.”