How large are the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from running a hotel? And what about the emissions from all the hotels in a hotel chain in Scandinavia? A pilot project was performed in 2008 to answer such questions and assemble a GHG account for Choice Hotels Scandinavia. This paper presents how the account was made and the results from the undertaking.
Considering the immaturity of both GHG accounting and environmental assessments in the service sector, the paper also aspires to contribute to methods development and standardisation with regard to GHG accounting. There are two initiatives in particular directed toward harmonisation of models and methods for calculating GHG emissions, namely Global Reporting Initiative (Fransen et al., 2003) and the work of British Standards on the PAS 2050 (BSI, 2008). The method employed for the specific case presented here is compared and contrasted with the recommendations from these two initiatives. The paper concludes with methodological considerations for GHG accounting in general and in particular when applied for services and not products.
Several efforts addressing issues of methodology for GHG accounting from products and services have been presented during the last decade, e.g. by UNEP/SETAC, BSI/Carbon Trust, ISO, the Swedish Environmental Management Council and WRI/WBCSD. One common feature in these efforts is that principles of life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology are being employed, recognising the need to consider the entire life cycle of products or service and also to relate the GHG account to the specific function(s) delivered by the product or service under scrutiny.
One important reason for the evolvement of GHG accounting approaches has been the recognition that emissions from enterprises are not limited to the manufacturing of products, but from support functions as sales management, marketing, and purchasing of goods and services as well. Thus, activities related to transportation of goods and people, production, and energy use should be considered as equally important areas in GHG accounting. This implicates an extension of systems boundaries compared to those generally being adapted in environmental accounting.
A challenge in making an account of an enterprise's emissions is that one needs to consider emissions in two dimensions, as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1 An enterprise's contribution of emissions in two dimensions.
Hence, the company is responsible for all direct emissions from the use of materials or energy as well as the emissions associated with having them produced or handled after end-of-useful-life given in the figure as:
1. The value chain related to the different products or services consumed by the company (horizontal arrow)
2. The activities the company performs to fulfill its function(s)/purpose(s) (vertical arrow)
Figure 2 below illustrates which products and materials that have been included and excluded in the specific analysis of GHG emissions from Choice Hotels Scandinavia. System boundaries are further elaborated in the final paper and methodological decisions discussed in relation to the PAS and GRI methodologies.
Figure 2 Categories/activities included in the GHG account for hotels.
Analysing the GHG emissions from hotels services may be particularly troublesome as hotels offer activities and services in addition to the traditional overnight stays. Thus, these additional functions of hotels must be included if hotels are compared to other hotels or with other ways to offer the same activities and services.
Other difficulties in producing GHG accounts arise in the actual collection of consumption data and the modeling of emissions from the consumption. Limited availability of data may be one reason for an inability in overcoming narrow system boundaries.
The paper presents which data are used and how they are collected for the specific case from the hotel industry.
The total climate account for the 149 hotels in the Choice Hotels Scandinavia shows emissions of appr. 20.000 tonnes CO2 equivalents. Energy use from operating buildings constitutes appr. 13.500 tonnes CO2 equivalents. Employees' transportation to/from work places comprise appr. 5.500 CO2 equivalents, and contributions from business travels appr. 800 tonnes CO2 equivalents.
To compensate for differences in size, capacity utilization and functionality of the hotels, specific indicators for energy use and transportation were developed and shown in the paper.
The results from this project shows that it is possible to work out a climate account for Choice Hotels Scandinavia. Even if the account does not include all activities and aspects presented above (fig. 2) it still is a useful foundation for further elaboration of the methodology. The results are based upon validated data to indicate the hotel chain's total climate gas emissions and to identify areas where actions should be taken in order to reduce emissions substantially.
Climate accounts are still in an early phase of development as an environmental management instrument and the case study presented here is seen both as an input to the general discussion on the relevance and usefulness of the approach, and also as an contribution to the understanding of the specific environmental challenges facing the hotel business.
BSI (2008): “Specification for the assessment of the life cycle greenhouse gas emission of goods and services”, PAS 2050:2008, British Standards, London.
Fransen, T.; Bhatia,P.; Hsu, A. (2003): “Measuring to Manage : A Guide to Designing GHG Accounting and Reporting Programs”, The Greenhouse Gas Protocol, WRI & WBCSD.