Sustainability has been a long-term priority for the hotel industry, with many hotels taking action to reduce their impact on the environment and to promote a responsible stay. As hotels work toward forward-thinking goals in reducing environmental harms, building and operating sustainable hotels, and sourcing sustainable goods and materials, AHLA aims to communicate, educate and advocate on behalf of the lodging industries’ various sustainability efforts. With the help of AHLA’s Sustainability Committee, which is comprised of senior subject matter experts from major brands, owners, and management companies, AHLA has targeted four main pillars of focus: energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction, and responsible sourcing.
Hotels around the country are working to increase their energy efficiency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save on costs. Hotel companies are embracing science-based targets and enlisting practices that will help reduce their energy needs and carbon emissions at a large scale. Hotels are reducing their reliance on fossil fuels by identifying the operational activities that are most energy-intensive and adopting more efficient designs and technologies. Additionally, many hotel brands are taking measures to protect and restore natural ecosystems. As technology and innovations continue to improve, the hotel industry is excited to implement innovative solutions that will support energy efficiency.
Policies: AHLA supported the enhancement of three pre-existing credits in the Inflation Reduction Act designed to accelerate and further enable what hotels are doing to increase energy efficiency, and we lobbied to ensure they were included in the final legislation:
• The Energy-Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction (26 US §179D) provides tax deductions for certain on-property energy efficiency improvements.
• The Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit (26 USC §30C) supports increased incentives for EV charging station installation.
• The Solar Investment Tax Credit (48) reduces the federal income tax liability for a percentage of the cost of a solar system.
Hotels are focused on reducing water consumption and have increasingly begun to measure their water usage, create water-reduction projects (including retrofitting), and train staff in water use-reduction practices. Some of the focus areas have included: restroom water (installing low flow faucets, showers, toilets, etc.), laundry water (upgrade or retrofit laundry equipment), designing water-smart landscapes, and kitchen improvements (ENERGY STAR certified dishwashers, ice machines, etc).
Policy: AHLA supports green tax incentives for commercial building energy efficiency – including tools for water saving success. Within the Energy-Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction (26 US §179D), installations eligible for credits include “heating, cooling, ventilation, and hot water systems”.
Food waste is a critical sustainability issue that’s relevant across the broader hotel industry. In the US, about 63 million tons of food are wasted each year, with 40% coming from consumer-facing businesses, including restaurants and hotels. This waste occurs while 41 million Americans, including 13 million children, are food insecure. Reducing food waste is one of the most effective ways to reduce the environmental impact of our food system and feed our communities. The hotel community is working to be part of the solution.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and AHLA came together and launched the Hotel Kitchen program, providing an educational platform for the hospitality industry to understand and reduce food waste. Through hands-on research and a series of workshops with hotel properties across the country, innovative strategies were identified to engage staff, partners, and guests in cutting waste from hotel kitchens. Participating hotels saw reductions of food waste of up to 38% in just 12 weeks. If scaled across the industry, these practices could eliminate half a million tons of waste within a year.
Policy: AHLA is proud to amplify and educate hotels on the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (42 U.S. Code § 1791) which provides limited liability protection for those who make good faith donations of food to non-profits. The act also limits liability protection for those who distribute the food, such as food banks.
AHLA also supports legislation like the Food Date Labeling Act of 2021 (S.3324), which addresses food waste by establishing requirements to standardize the quality date and discard date labels on food packaging. With more uniformity and clarity, hotels throughout the country would be more comfortable in donating food instead of discarding it if proper labels were used.
AHLA is proud to support The Zero Food Waste Act (H.R.4444/S.2389), which directs the EPA to provide grants to local governments and nonprofits to research and implement ways to reduce the quantity of food waste. Grants used to improve food waste reduction infrastructure and increase the ease by which food can be donated would be particularly meaningful for hotels.
Each year, 32% of all plastic packaging across the globe ends up in oceans. Plastic waste, along with other types of preventable waste, greatly contributes to pollution, negatively impacts wildlife, and increases greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing the amount of plastic used in hotel operations, especially single-use plastics often used for packaging, is a critical piece of sustainable travel and the fight against climate change. As a demonstrated commitment to reducing their environmental footprint, many hotel companies are committing to significantly reducing (or eliminating all-together) their use of single-use plastic items. Additionally, hotels are dedicated to reducing other types of waste and maximizing opportunities for recycling and composting. Through innovative federal advocacy, focused on encouraging recycling and composting, the lodging industry can reach its goals of reducing waste more quickly.
Policy: AHLA supports the Recycling Infrastructure and Accessibility Act (S.3742), as well as other similar federal/state/local legislation, that would establish a grant program for improving recycling accessibility, through investments in infrastructure and policies, in communities throughout the country.
Hotels are increasingly concerned about advancing responsible sourcing of products and services. Many hotels are considering suppliers who share a commitment to responsible business practices, trying to be forward-thinking and identifying ways to be more sustainable. AHLA supports any corresponding policy that will incentivize and encourage hotels to source responsibly.
Responsible Stay Toolkit
Reconsidering the Food Journey in Hotels
Toolkit: Fighting Food Waste in Hotels
Hotel Waste Measurement Methodology
Repurposing Food Guide
Fighting Food Waste Poster
"Don’t Feed the Food Waste Monster" Campaign Resources
Fighting Food Waste in 16 Weeks: Champion's Guide
Food Waste Bin Tracker
A Toolkit For Communicating Food Waste To Guests
AHLA is the singular voice representing every segment of the hotel industry including major chains, independent hotels, management companies, REIT’s, bed and breakfasts, industry partners and more.
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