Environmental sustainability

As one of the world’s leading hotel companies, we understand the impact our operations have on the environment and take active steps to measure and manage it.


reduction in carbon footprint per occupied room for 2013-2017*

*from a 2012 baseline

We are committed to ensuring our business grows in a sustainable way, always mindful of the resources we use, as well as the opportunity we have to do things differently. We know it is important to our stakeholders, colleagues and guests that we demonstrate how seriously we take issues such as climate change, water scarcity, utility consumption, waste management and environmental preservation.

In 2017, we continued to work with our hotels and corporate offices to manage our environmental impacts, and during the year we reduced both our carbon footprint per occupied room and water use per occupied room in water-stressed areas. Since 2013, we have reduced our carbon footprint per occupied room by 15% (against a 2012 baseline). As a result of our efforts, we achieved our five-year carbon footprint target. During the same period, we reduced our water use per occupied room in water scarce areas by 5%. Whilst this represents a significant saving over our global estate of hotels, it does mean that we were not able meet the target of 12% reduction per occupied room that we set for ourselves in 2013.

Education is key to behaviour change, in 2017 we ran a number of training webinars and incentive programmes for our hotels. To support the training, we distributed toolkits with guidance and solutions for our hotels to adopt the most effective water and carbon saving solutions. As part of these toolkits, we identified appropriate vendors to help hotels implement the Green Solutions that deliver the greatest carbon and water savings. The actions we took resulted in $100 million of avoided utility costs in our managed hotels in 2017. Our actions delivered $470 million in avoided utility costs from 2013-2017. 

Between 2013-2017, our managed hotels reduced carbon per occupied room by 27%. Our franchised hotels delivered an 8.6% reduction over the same time period.  We strongly believe in the importance of carbon reduction targets that apply to all of our hotels globally and not just our owned and managed estate. We are proud of the engagement we have seen with our franchise hotels in reducing carbon at scale and this has helped us to exceed our five-year target.

From 2013-2017, our managed hotels reduced their water use per occupied room in water-stressed areas by 15% (against a 2012 baseline).  Our franchise hotels continued to present some challenges, and we are building on our learnings and developing strategies for our franchise operations which we will implement in 2018 and beyond.

We recognise that understanding of water stress and the efforts needed to address it are less mature than that of carbon. The Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative (HCMI), for example, became a standard across the industry in 2012, and IHG played a leading role in developing this. A similar initiative, the Hotel Water Measurement Initiative (HWMI), was developed and launched in 2016, four years later. Another key challenge lies in the subsides for water enjoyed in many locations around the world. As a result of a more advanced carbon programme, and clearer owner economics, we are realising the benefits of our carbon saving initiatives now, whilst progress on water has been slower.

We have been able to implement our carbon saving initiatives at scale, across our global hotel estate; however, we acknowledge that we need to embed new water initiatives at a local level, as the situation is more complex. To become better stewards of water in the future, we will develop new strategies to mitigate water scarcity and pollution, rather than consumption alone, thus ensuring that water is managed sustainably as a shared resource.

Underlining our continued commitment to managing our impacts on the environment, we have set a new target to reduce our carbon footprint by 6-7% from 2018–2020. In line with our expanded focus on water stewardship, we have also set a target to implement two new water stewardship projects each year.

We report on scope 1, 2 and 3 Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and water use across hotels and corporate offices, regardless of management type. Working with sustainability reporting specialists, Anthesis, each year the system size changes, giving our stakeholders greater accuracy and transparency in the disclosure of our Greenhouse Gas emissions and water use.