The concept of sustainability has now become one of the main aspects of tourism management, and this paradigm shift is the result of raising awareness about the impact tourism activity has on the environment, society, and destinations.
According to the “Ecological and Sustainable Tourism: Profiles and Trends” report, 66% of tourists are willing to pay more for sustainable hotels and brands. The data confirm that the tourism industry is responsible for around 5% of global greenhouse emissions, of which 1% corresponds to the hospitality sector.
Until recently, the architectural aspect was not given much importance within the sustainable tourism framework; however, as buildings become more prominent within the tourist landscape, the need to apply environmental criteria in their construction becomes clearer.
In addition, different projects have been introduced to align tourism with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); among them, the declaration of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development by the United Nations.
Given its size and high impact on the environment, sustainable hotels are a key element to work on within the sustainable architecture framework. In fact, according to a study carried out by Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and the Hotel Technology Institute (ITH), 90% of the travelers surveyed would choose a sustainable hotel to stay, and 34% of them would be willing to pay more for this type of accommodation.
What Is a Sustainable Hotel?
A sustainable hotel is one that is designed respecting the environment and whose operation does not have a negative impact on the place where it is built or its surroundings. Likewise, a sustainable hotel actively participates with the local community, using resources in a respectful way and promoting the economic and social development of the town.
Just as sustainability entails, this type of hotel does not only bring benefits to the environment but also to the society and the communities with which it interacts.
What Are the Features of Sustainable Hotels?
For a hotel to be considered sustainable, it must have at least one of these traits:
- Consider the environment, culture and society of the place where it is built at the time of design. This means that the hotel will be part of the local landscape, being in harmony with the natural elements and, above all, with the people who are in the place and their culture.
- Respect the surroundings, both from a natural and social point of view. This includes preserving the biodiversity of the local environment, reducing non-recyclable waste, and avoiding the use of non-renewable energy sources that consume local elements and deplete them.
- Contribute to the development of the community and promote local businesses. On the one hand, sustainable hotels function as sources of employment since the community finds a job at the hotel and, on the other, hotels point travelers to the use of the community’s services.
- Promote local products consumption, which brings economic benefits and favors the development of the destination’s local identity while enhancing the elements that make it stand out from other places.
- Use renewable energy sources to supply most of the hotel’s energy demands. This includes the use of solar energy, wind energy or construction of the building following bioclimatic design principles.
- Use organic and recycled materials, including construction materials, cleaning materials, hotel consumables, among others.
- Respect the principles of bioclimatic design, so that the use of air conditioning and heating systems can be completely reduced.