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Making Sustainability Data Accessible and Engaging: Q&A with Hyatt’s Marié Fukudome

The Hyatt 2020 Vision set new ambitious sustainability targets in 2014. Over the next six years, Hyatt needed to engage hotels around the world in pursuing 25% reductions in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions per square meter, and water use per guest night compared to a 2006 baseline for each region. A 30% water reduction goal was set for water-stressed areas.

Hyatt Hotels Corporation president and CEO Mark Hoplamazian prioritized sustainability when he joined in 2006, says Marié Fukudome, senior manager, environmental affairs for Hyatt. “There is the business case of reducing costs related to energy and water use,” she says.

Fukudome spoke about incorporating data analysis into performance monitoring at the 2017 Environmental Leader Conference in June. We caught up with her recently to find out how Hyatt engages hotel teams around the 2020 sustainability goals.

What are Hyatt’s main sustainability goals?

We have a suite of goals that fall under our 2020 vision. Our main goals, especially with engaging our hotels, are energy and carbon reduction per square meter, which is a 25% reduction goal by 2020 per square meter compared to 2006. For our water per guest night reduction goal, which is also 25% by 2020, we emphasize the hotels in water risk areas with a 30% goal. We’re working on a waste diversion goal to reach 40% at our hotels around the world. Another goal is to reach 50% responsible seafood purchasing by volume by 2018.

Carbon and water are major topics for every industry. Hyatt has been working on those for a number of years. We set goals through an in-depth process where we benchmarked leaders outside of the hospitality industry, compared our competitors, and dove into our own data. We had external consultants help us analyze what would be a realistic goal, what a stretch goal would look like, and determined where we could land by 2020.

Where does your sustainability data come from and how is it managed?

We are decentralized and in 56 countries with close to 700 hotels. We have a sustainability database, Hyatt EcoTrack, through which hotels report their consumption of various types of energy sources, water sources and consumption, and waste.

We were one of the first hospitality chains to start collecting consumption data from hotels in the US going back to 1990. It’s been an evolution. Now we have interfaces at all of our hotels where colleagues key their meter or bill data into our database or review automated data feeds so we have a centralized repository of utilities and can do things like carbon calculations.

The hotels enter energy based on whatever unit of measurement they’re getting it in, whether that’s natural gas in therms or cubic meters. We feed in business metrics like occupied rooms, food covers, and even external data sources like cooling degree days and heating degree days to do further analysis. We also collect [information about] initiatives such as lighting upgrades or the installation of variable frequency drives. We moved to a new software service a couple years ago to make the user experience more intuitive. It’s a one-stop-shop system through which we can understand what hotels are doing and how they’re progressing on sustainability.

How do you engage hotel teams around Hyatt’s sustainability goals?

Our business structure is a combination of owned, managed, and franchised hotels, which means that most of our hotels have a different owner who has financial control over the properties. In addition, being in different cities and climate zones, having a new building or an older building, a resort or a business hotel all means there’s rarely a one-size-fits all solution. We rely on our colleagues on the ground to identify solutions, make the business case, and advance sustainability at their hotels.

We’ve been working on customized goals: We set reductions based on how an individual hotel is doing compared to similar hotels in their market and what they’ve already accomplished. By setting customized goals, we are providing data back to hotels in a broader context. They can see how they’re doing and where they should be as opposed to just “are we better or worse than last year for the same time period?”

We’ve also been working on intuitive dashboards within our EcoTrack system. We have a long history of data, but for a while it was not understandable except maybe to the engineers at the hotels. Bringing in more charts and graphs, and showing that information in an engaging way was important. And the data doesn’t just live in EcoTrack — we feed it into our financial systems so hotel and corporate leaders can access that.

How has having more accessible, intuitive data made a difference?

One example is what we did in California with our water conservation effort starting a couple years ago, when the droughts became a major issue. We set a directive for our hotels to implement conservation plans, which sounds simple, but it brought everyone to take a more organized approach in developing a plan to prioritize what sorts of technology they can install in the near-term, mid-term, and long-term. In addition, they developed a plan for how to put standards in place for engaging colleagues.

Strategic effort was being placed in each hotel to evaluate opportunities they might not have considered otherwise. It could be as simple as replacing shower heads or adjusting toilet flows to things like smart irrigation technology that might require an upfront investment.

A more documented approach resulted in quick reductions. Just in that year, for the California hotels the water per guest night was reduced by 12%. Obviously there was already a focus because of the water crisis, but providing structure alongside the data as well as identified best practices and solutions supported the effort.

What are you currently working on and what does the future look like for sustainability at Hyatt?

Colleague engagement is something we continue to improve. While our colleagues are passionate about sustainability, frequently they’ll see it as the responsibility of the manager or the engineering team. Everyone can play a role on a daily basis, whether it’s a housekeeper turning off water or someone in the kitchen making sure the burners are off. Since [joining Hyatt in 2009], I’ve seen a broader engagement in different departments, each person gaining more understanding about what sustainability means within their field. Taking on roles to advance our initiatives, that’s where we’re headed in the future.

Marié Fukudome spoke about incorporating data analysis into performance monitoring at the 2017 Environmental Leader Conference in Denver.

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