Hospace Conference 2021

14:35: Sustainability: If Not Now, Then When?
Featuring Sarah Duncan & Sue Williams

Sarah Duncan & Sue Williams — Sustainability - if not now then when?

  • Sue Williams:

    •  I care because I like to think of ourselves as ethical operators and I can also see that it is something that is not optional anymore. Climate change is a vast and complex area, which is challenging yet simple. It’s about respect.

    • There is a tension between the impacts of covid, a desire to regain profits and the consistent issue of climate change. There’s so much you can do to be sustainable that can actually save you money.

    • The key is to gather data so you can express your decarbonisation strategy and present yourself as a carbon conscious business.

    • Sustainability is a wonderful topic to drive a young team by and everyone can own it and be proud of the decarbonising journey. It can also help attract people into the industry — especially younger people (of which there is a shortage in early hospitality careers).

  • Covid-19 has made people question things a lot more which can result in sustainable solutions — for example, the reduced need for printers and paper due to increased remote working.

  • What is Sue most proud of?:

    • Getting the culture of sustainability embedded in the property and 100 people sharing a common goal is key.

    • Sustainability can be like trying to eat an elephant — one small chunk at a time. You have to establish the right team to go forward together as this is a fast-moving area and things are changing all the time (technology etc).

    • Whatley manor runs solely on LED and uses 75% less energy to light our property. There is no longer an optional scenario. We are in it and we only really have this decade to act upon this issue

    • These next ten years are the most significant of our time and the fundamental step to starting your sustainability journey is about accepting your errors.

    • Energy costs are going up so Whatley manor aims to transform their energy supply in the next 12 months — they have already moved to sustainable electricity.

    • Bioethanol made from sugar cane can be used to substitute outdoor heating in restaurants and bars. Legislation could mean outdoor heaters are banned so it’s important to look for greener alternatives. The sooner you act, you will get a jump start on what will soon become compulsory.

    • You're constantly juggling what is the right decision as opposed to the ‘trendy’ decision.

    • Planting trees is great but it isn’t as simple as that and you're forced to consider carbon v biodiversity. There is a lot to consider!

    • Whatley manor uses ‘Land app’ to do a full audit of the wildlife and trees on the plot.

  • Question for Sue: Sustainability is a buzzword at the moment and it is a term that is easier said than done. How do you ensure its approached with integrity?

    • It's about measurement transparency and governance.

    • Landing pages on websites that contain basic sustainable things — people will see through it and sometimes that is worse than saying nothing!

    • What did you make of cop26 (Sue Willaims)?

      • A lot of talk and not a lot of substance. It’s very alarming as I am now questioning the efficacy and mechanism of COP.

  • HOSPA’s Sustainability Toolkit will help hoteliers find the right path for them and the pendulum will swing on a number of subjects —  to be sustainable we have to nurture our people and give them a purpose.

  • When we talk about sustainability this is not just about carbon but it’s about environmental social governance.

  • We are a wealthy nation and there is climate injustice with millions of people across the world feeling the sharp end of climate change right now. 

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