The beginning of 2016 is seeing a renewed push for sustainability measures in hotels, kick started by a large-scale push from Pebblebrook Hotel Trust.
The real estate investment trust identified more than $8 million in energy-related savings through sustainability initiatives, which the company will invest in on an individual asset basis. In one example, Pebblebrook recorded more than $525,000 in annual savings at the Hotel Monaco in Washington, D.C., while the overall cost per occupied room fell more than 40 percent. This is a notable example because the building the Hotel Monaco resides in was built in 1839, and older historic properties have traditionally posed a challenge for the implementation of sustainability solutions. Over the years, advancements in technology have slowly eroded the barriers to greening up these buildings, evident in a steam to natural gas conversion Pebblebrook invested in at the property after purchasing it in 2010.
Jeremy Tobin, asset manager for Pebblebrook, told REIT.com that he expects the real estate industry to take notes from hospitality for sustainability improvements in the near future. "Pebblebrook is definitely a proponent of sustainability initiatives. It’s a great way to invest in our assets and has a favorable return on investment for the owner," Tobin said.
Vehicle charging stations are another major sustainability investment growing in importance. The Des Moines Register reported that the Holiday Inn & Suites in Des Moines, Iowa, is officially the first property to bring Tesla charging stations to the city. The hotel received the stations through Tesla's "destination charging" program, through which hotels and resorts can sign up for installation. The hotel added them after fielding a number of requests from guests.
Carbon is another concern for hotels, and 16 properties in New York City made headlines at the end of 2015 as they pledged to cut their carbon emissions by 30 percent over a decade. Other hotels are seeing the savings and following suit, with the Mohegan Sun Pocono in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., announcing in a release that it plans on reducing its carbon footprint by 14 percent. The casino hotel will be dropping its carbon by installing a new combined heat and power system in March, which will be fully operational by fall 2016. The installation is expected to cost $3 million, but 30 percent of the bill will be financed by a grant from the Commonwealth Financing Authority in Harrisburg, Pa.
"Once fully operational, the electricity and heating from the system is likely to reduce Mohegan Sun Pocono’s carbon footprint by 3,900 metric tons annually, the equivalent of removing 820 vehicles from the road, carbon sequestered from 3,200 acres of forest or the planting of 100,000 trees," Mike Bean, president and CEO of Mohegan Sun Pocono, said in the release.