Peter Till, Managing Director of Choice Hotels UK & Western Europe and Ufi Ibrahim, the former CEO of the British Hospitality Association, today announced the launch of The Energy & Environment Alliance, a new coalition of hospitality businesses and investors, to transform the industry to become climate positive. Peter Till will be the Chairman and Ufi Ibrahim, the CEO.

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The Alliance seeks to capitalise on a surge in enthusiasm from government, investors and consumers to see businesses acting in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner. The immediate priority is to help tackle the climate change challenge by cutting consumption of fossil fuels. In time, the EEA plans to broaden its scope to sustainable materials, operations, including water and waste management, and pioneering new environmental initiatives.

The launch coincides with the publication of a report by Ignite Economics, which reveals that the UK accommodation sector has increased its energy usage by 47% from the turn of the century to 2018 – more than any other industrial sector – while the overall economy has seen its energy usage decline by almost 20% over the same period.

As the accommodation sector has grown by around 70% during this time, increases in energy usage may not seem so bad. However, it is still only one of three industry sectors to have seen energy intensity (the amount of energy required per unit of economic output) increase since 1990, at a time when the overall UK economy has reduced energy intensity by 53%. Ignite Economics also estimates that the industry could save 15-20% of its energy usage, which is up to £270m/yr, or up to 660,000 tonnes/yr of CO₂.

The Alliance will assist its members in three practical ways, first by bringing the industry together with scientific experts, regulators and specialist services, to combine resources, share knowledge and implement new technologies; second, by enabling member companies to acquire their energy 100% sustainably; and third by helping members achieve world-class sustainable operating standards in a highly cost-effective manner.

For most members who own or manage hotels with more than thirty bedrooms, the cost of membership will be substantially outweighed by savings on energy bills and by an increase in property value, by achieving high sustainability standards. Members will also be able to demonstrate to customers, investors and others, that they are doing everything that can be expected of them, from an environmentally responsible management perspective.

From launch, the Alliance will be able to offer members a pathway to net-zero by virtue of a relationship with Businesswise Solutions, a specialist energy trader, which procures renewable energy on the wholesale markets, at a scale and on commercial terms most hotel chains could not match, and makes it available to members via its Renewable Energy Basket.

Cost-effective achievement of world-class operational standards will be delivered through an exclusive partnership with BREEAM, which is known as the world’s leading sustainability assessment method for master-planning construction projects, infrastructure and buildings. Under the partnership, BREEAM and the EEA will be co-creating the first global, scientifically robust standard for sustainable building management in the hospitality industry, covering: energy, water, transport, management, waste, pollution, health & well-being, land use & ecology and materials. EEA members will gain complementary access to BREEAM’s technical platform via the internet, enabling them to undertake a self-assessment of their property and generate a benchmarking report on their current performance.

Ufi Ibrahim said: “The world has changed. Business as usual is no longer viable and externalising the cost of natural and social capital belongs to a bygone era. Delivering the triple bottom line of profit, people and planet is now expected and long-term environmental risk is beginning to worry investors. The trend is gathering momentum and the challenge for the hospitality sector is how to get ahead of it. The Alliance is responding by bringing the industry’s leaders together to pool brainpower and to focus on credible initiatives we can benchmark.”

Frazer Durris, CEO Businesswise Solutions, said: “We are really excited by the formation of the Alliance because it makes sense on so many levels. Hotels save energy; the industry moves towards decarbonisation in a measurable way, consumers and investors approve and we get to facilitate – what’s not to like!”

Dr Shamir Ghumra, Director, BREEAM, said: “I’m convinced that this is the start of what will become a valuable long-term strategic partnership for BREEAM, as we will be forging working relationships with industry leaders to evolve a set of operational standards that will enable hoteliers to keep improving the way they manage their assets.”

Peter Till concluded: “We have an exciting new vision of the world, one which is clean, green and sustainable. It is a world that will no longer rely on burning fossil fuels for energy. Whilst that vision has not been achieved yet, the Energy & Environment Alliance will help hotels and other hospitality businesses tackle the challenge of climate change and lead the way to this brighter future, in the most effective way possible.”