The study, published in the International Journal of Hospitality Management, found chain hotels are more likely to use energy efficient light bulbs; train staff to turn off lights, heaters and air conditioning in unoccupied rooms; buy in bulk to reduce packaging; use safer cleaners and chemicals; and give guests tips on how to save water and energy.
Some hotels found greener building designs alone could cut 30-50 percent of their energy costs, a savings that for a full-service hotel could equate to as much as $6.75 on the daily room rate, according to the study.
A chain hotel’s centralized management and economies of scale make it easier to see an advantage in such approaches even if similar steps can save a single, independent hotel as much in percentage terms, according to the university. As a result, independent hotels may be losing a competitive advantage in drawing customers, the university says.
According to the university hotels have the largest environmental footprint in the hospitality industry.
In September, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts announced that it cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 8.4 percent by the end of 2010, compared to 2006 levels.
The chain is one of 12 international hotel companies, including Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott, that are trying to create a single methodology for calculating carbon footprints and emissions.