Sustainable Hotel

Welcome to the Sustainable Hotel Guideline, a comprehensive resource compiled by United Metric that provide the key performance indicators basd on the best practices and initiatives within the global hospitality industry. In this guideline, we explore the vital role of hotels as the heart of the thriving tourism industry, shedding light on the environmental and social challenges they face, their resilience and adaptability in the face of adversity, and the pressing need to embrace sustainability in alignment with the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The tourism industry has witnessed unprecedented growth in recent years, becoming a significant contributor to the economies of many nations worldwide. Countries have recognized the immense potential for revenue generation that tourism offers, prompting substantial investments in infrastructure, services, and attractions to attract visitors from across the globe. In 2019 alone, international tourist arrivals reached a staggering 1.5 billion, reflecting the industry's magnitude and its profound impact on societies and the environment.

However, with growth come challenges. The hotel sector, as the cornerstone of the tourism industry, faces unique environmental and social considerations. The continuous influx of guests, energy consumption, water usage, waste generation, and the strain on local ecosystems are just a few of the factors that demand our attention. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented an unforeseen crisis, significantly impacting the hospitality sector and highlighting the urgent need for resilience and adaptability.
 Amidst these challenges, the imperative for sustainability has become increasingly apparent. The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a comprehensive framework for addressing the world's most pressing social, economic, and environmental issues. Recognizing the profound impact of the tourism industry, these goals offer a roadmap for hotels to align their practices with sustainability principles and contribute to a more inclusive and equitable future.

Amidst these challenges, the imperative for sustainability has become increasingly apparent. The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a comprehensive framework for addressing the world's most pressing social, economic, and environmental issues. Recognizing the profound impact of the tourism industry, these goals offer a roadmap for hotels to align their practices with sustainability principles and contribute to a more inclusive and equitable future.

This guideline serves as a beacon of knowledge and inspiration, drawing upon the best practices and success stories from the global hospitality industry. By highlighting innovative approaches and case studies, we aim to showcase the tremendous progress that hotels have made in embracing sustainability. From energy-efficient operations and responsible waste management to community engagement and biodiversity conservation, these examples demonstrate the positive impact that hotels can have on the environment and society.

United Metric is proud to present this compilation, designed to support hoteliers, managers, and stakeholders in their journey towards sustainable practices. By adopting the strategies outlined within this guideline, we can collectively drive positive change, mitigate the environmental footprint of the hospitality sector, and foster a more resilient and inclusive tourism industry for future generations.

So, let us embark on this transformative journey together, guided by the principles of sustainability and the shared vision of a better and more sustainable future for the hospitality industry.

Sustainable Hotel encompasses 4 core dimensions to ensure a balanced and integrated approach: 

The United Metric has ranked the dimensions of sustainability for a hotel in the following order:

Economy Sustainability:
Economic sustainability is also crucial for a hotel's long-term sustainability. It involves maintaining profitability and financial stability while minimizing negative economic impacts on local communities. Hotels need to implement sustainable business practices, such as optimizing operational efficiency, reducing operating costs through energy and resource conservation, and supporting local economies by sourcing locally produced goods and services. 

The sub-dimensions are included: 

  • Energy
  • Water
  • Waste
  • Supply chain
  • Procurement
  • Brand reputation and customer loyalty 
  • Compliance with environmental regulations
  • Employee productivity and retention 
  • Income from organic products 
  • Market differentiation and competitive advantage 
  • Environmental certifications, sustainability reporting and recognitions 

Environment Sustainability: 
This aspect carries significant weight for a hotel to achieve sustainability. Environmental sustainability focuses on minimizing the hotel's impact on the environment by adopting practices that conserve resources, reduce waste, and promote eco-friendly alternatives. This includes implementing energy- efficient technologies, using renewable energy sources, reducing water consumption, promoting recycling and waste reduction, and supporting local biodiversity.
The sub-dimensions are included: 

  • Energy
  • Water
  • Waste
  • Procurement
  • Conservation of biodiversity 
  • Transportation
  • Supply Chain 

Society and Culture Sustainability:
 Social sustainability emphasizes the hotel's responsibility towards its employees, guests, and local communities. It involves promoting fair and ethical employment practices, providing safe and healthy working conditions, supporting diversity and inclusivity, and actively engaging with the local community through initiatives such as philanthropy, volunteering, and cultural preservation. Social sustainability also encompasses ensuring guest satisfaction, safety, and well-being. 
The sub-dimensions are included: 

  • Local Community Engagement 
  • Employee Well-being
  • Cultural Preservation
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Guest Satisfaction and Engagement 
  • Stakeholder Engagement 

Resilience and Adaptation: 
While resilience is an important aspect, it may not carry as much weight as the other three aspects mentioned above. Resilience in the context of a hotel refers to its ability to withstand and recover from unexpected events or disruptions, such as natural disasters, economic downturns, or public health crises. Implementing measures like contingency planning, risk assessment, and robust infrastructure can enhance a hotel's resilience, ensuring its conued operations and minimizing negative impacts on the environment, economy, and society.
The sub-dimensions are included: 

  • Sustainability Policy
  • Risk Assessment and Management 
  • Emergency Preparedness 
  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Employee Training and Awareness 
  • Climate Change Adaptation 
  • Business Continuity Planning 
  • Supply Chain Resilience 


Success Stories of Sustainable Hotels:

  • Hotel South Beach, Miami, USA:
  1. Implemented comprehensive energy efficiency measures, resulting in a 50% reduction in energy consumption.
  2. Utilized renewable energy sources, reducing carbon emissions by 40%.
  3. Engaged in local community initiatives, such as beach clean-ups and supporting local farmers, leading to enhanced guest experiences and positive community impact.
  • EcoHotel El Rey Moro, Seville, Spain:
  1. Implemented energy-efficient lighting and appliances, leading to a 30% reduction in energy consumption.
  2. Promoted local culture by using organic and locally sourced materials for furnishings and decor, enhancing guest experiences with authentic and sustainable elements.
  3. Received various sustainability awards, including the EU Ecolabel and TripAdvisor GreenLeaders certification, affirming their commitment to environmental responsibility.
  • Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, Aruba:
  1. Adopted a comprehensive waste management system, achieving a waste diversion rate of over 90% through recycling and composting initiatives.
  2. Collaborated with local suppliers to source organic and sustainable food options, offering guests a unique and environmentally friendly culinary experience.
  3. Engaged guests through educational programs, including turtle conservation and beach clean-up initiatives, fostering a strong connection between sustainability and guest satisfaction.
  • Basecamp Explorer, Kenya:
  1. Basecamp Explorer is a group of eco-lodges located in Kenya's Maasai Mara region. They have gained recognition for their sustainable tourism practices, focusing on community empowerment and wildlife conservation. 
  2. The lodges are constructed using locally sourced materials, employ members from neighboring Maasai communities, and contribute to community development initiatives. Basecamp Explorer also supports wildlife conservation efforts, particularly in protecting endangered species like lions and elephants. 
  3. Their sustainable tourism model demonstrates how tourism can benefit local communities and preserve the natural environment. 

Sustainable hotels are at the forefront of the hospitality industry's transformation towards a greener and more responsible future. By employing the outlined KPIs, metrics, and learning from successful case studies, hotels can effectively measure and enhance their sustainability efforts. Embracing sustainability not only reduces environmental impact but also enhances guest experiences, fosters community development, and contributes to long-term business success in an increasingly conscious market. The integration of sustainable practices is paramount for hotels seeking to make a positive difference in the world while maintaining economic viability. 

SDGs & Sustainable Hotel 

Sustainable hotels can contribute to several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their respective targets and sub-targets. Here are some examples:

SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

  • Target 7.2: Increase the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix
  • Sub-target: Implement energy-efficient technologies and practices in hotel operations, such as using solar panels for electricity generation, energy-efficient lighting, and smart energy management systems.

SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

  • Target 9.4: Upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable
  • Sub-target: Implement sustainable practices in hotel construction and design, such as using eco-friendly building materials, optimizing water and energy use, and integrating green infrastructure like green roofs and rainwater harvesting systems.

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

  • Target 11.6: Reduce the environmental impact of cities, including air quality, waste management, and transportation.
  • Sub-target: Adopt sustainable practices in hotel operations, such as reducing water consumption, minimizing waste generation through recycling and composting, and promoting sustainable transportation options for guests and employees.

SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

  • Target 12.2: Achieve sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources.
  • Sub-target: Implement sustainable procurement practices, promote local and organic food options in hotel restaurants, reduce single-use plastics, and engage in waste reduction and recycling initiatives.

SDG 13: Climate Action

  • Target 13.3: Improve education, awareness, and capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning.
  • Sub-target: Raise awareness among hotel staff, guests, and local communities about climate change, encourage energy and water conservation, and implement measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

SDG 14: Life Below Water

  • Target 14.1: Prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds.
  • Sub-target: Implement responsible waste management practices in hotels to prevent pollution of water bodies, particularly oceans, by minimizing plastic waste and properly treating wastewater.

SDG 15: Life on Land

  • Target 15.5: Take urgent and significant action to reduce degradation of natural habitats and halt biodiversity loss.
  • Sub-target: Promote sustainable land use practices around hotels, such as preserving and restoring natural habitats, supporting local biodiversity conservation efforts, and offering eco-tourism activities that raise awareness about local ecosystems.


These examples illustrate how sustainable hotels can contribute to multiple SDGs and help advance various targets and sub-targets. However, it's important to note that the specific actions and initiatives undertaken by each hotel may vary based on their location, resources, and priorities.