Fairmont: The Green Hotel Leader

Over 17 years, the chain has woven its commitment to eco-friendly policies into its everyday business, impacting its 51 properties in nine countries. In Canada, efforts include the Adopt-a-Beluga program at Quebec's Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu, which is located within a biosphere reserve, and an 18th floor highrise-herbarium in Toronto's Fairmont Royal York, the fruits of which are used in the hotel's three kitchens.

Over 17 years, the chain has woven its commitment to eco-friendly policies into its everyday business, impacting its 51 properties in nine countries. In Canada, efforts include the Adopt-a-Beluga program at Quebec’s Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu, which is located within a biosphere reserve, and an 18th floor highrise-herbarium in Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York, the fruits of which are used in the hotel’s three kitchens.

Inspiration

The Fairmont was founded on an enduring connection to the land and the communities where it does business. Its Green Partnership focuses on improvements in the areas of waste management, energy and water conservation, as well as community outreach through local groups and alliances. This includes everything from recycling and organic waste diversion in the hotel’s kitchens to retrofitting energy-efficient lighting. It also includes redistribution of household goods and food to those in need.

Execution/communication

The partnership is managed corporately (there is a dedicated director of environmental affairs who oversees corporate strategy and long-term plans), but each property has its own Green Team made up of volunteers who mould the program to reflect the values and needs of the geographic area and ecosystem where their hotel is located. The teams compete for environmental superiority and the title of Environmental Hotel of the Year through the partnership ‘Environmental Incentive Program.’ These teams have been instrumental in increasing awareness of the hotels’ programs given their interaction and partnerships with local community and academic groups. To further encourage this, a number of collateral pieces have been developed:

• The Green Partnership Video

‘The Power of Many,’ featuring the chain’s top execs, was created as an internal communication piece to motivate Green Teams to environmental action by showing how their local initiatives contribute to global improvements.

• Green Partnership Guide

This comprehensive handbook for those in the industry wanting

to make an environmental difference provides a 17-step guide to

greening a hotel, from waste management to energy and water conservation strategies.

• Environmental Policy

The policy identifies the company’s commitment to environmental protection and sustainability and is online at fairmont.com/environment.

• Green Partnership Brochure

This is an in-room communication piece to the hotels’ guests, providing an overview of the company-wide program. It’s available in English, French and Spanish.

Marketing

With the demand for green options growing, Fairmont is catering to companies and governments looking to minimize their ecological footprint.

Eco-Meet, for example, is a green conference option offered to guests consisting of four components:

• Eco-service provides ‘disposable-free’ food and beverage services and recycling stations in the meeting rooms. So china and cutlery are used instead of disposable items, linen napkins instead of paper. White boards are used rather than paper flip charts.

• Eco-accommodation offers in-room information, recycling bins, optional sheet and towel replacement at select properties, energy-efficient lighting, and water-conserving showerheads, toilets and tap aerators.

• Eco-cuisine menus incorporate local, seasonal and organically grown foods wherever possible.

• Eco-programming provides activities and guest speakers to complement the Eco-Meet experience. Whether it’s a keynote address or a full-day

team-building eco-experience, Fairmont’s eco-programming educates delegates. There are also paperless services available for events including a dedicated TV channel to provide information and updates to delegates, electronic paperless check-in/

check-out and e-mailed contracts and information used where possible. The chain will also assist meeting planners to offset their event’s greenhouse gas

emissions by purchasing green

tags/energy certificates.

Overall results

The partnership has considerable PR value for the company as it demonstrates Fairmont’s commitment to CSR. This is increasingly important as the environment is more top of mind for mainstream consumers and media, and is fast becoming a factor in determining both destination and accommodation venues.

The program has been recognized with numerous awards including the 2006 Global Tourism Business Award from the World Tourism & Travel Council, that recognizes the best example of responsible practices within the tourism industry. It has allowed the chain to show that being green is good for business with demonstrated case studies of capital works improvements and ROI.

Above all, Fairmont’s CSR platform has allowed the Green Partnership to become a point of differentiation for the brand.

What the Fairmont did right was change the thousand little things that it does as a hotel – everything from the way it picks up garbage, processes foods and heats the rooms. [It's] an example of how hotels are getting it right.

Marc Stoiber, Change