“What gets measured, gets managed”: why EP100 member Hilton is investing in smarter energy use

14 January 2019

When Hilton first rolled out its corporate responsibility measurement platform in 2009, it was a strategic investment in making smarter use of energy.

With more than 5,500 properties spread across 109 countries and territories, the hospitality company knew embedding energy efficiency into its business strategy would have a measurable impact on reducing  emissions and saving money.

All Hilton hotels are required to use LightStay, Hilton’s corporate responsibility measurement system, to set annual targets for energy, water and waste usage. The platform measures goal progress, tracks energy use and carbon output.

If you just look at this from the perspective of running a business, energy is typically a hotel’s second-highest operating cost. We’re focused on creating innovative solutions to do more with less,” says Daniella Foster, Senior Director for Corporate Responsibility, Hilton.

“By tracking this and by proactively investing in LightStay, we were able to save US$1 billion. So, the business case is really powerful.”  

Innovating for smarter energy use

Hilton joined The Climate Group’s EP100 initiative during  Climate Week NYC 2018 with a commitment to expand its smart energy management system and achieve a 40% energy productivity improvement by 2030, from a 2008 baseline.  

In May Hilton announced Travel with Purpose 2030 Goals to cut its environmental footprint in half and double social impact investment by 2030. The company will use LightStay to track its goal of reducing carbon emission by 61% by 2030, a goal approved by the Science-Based Targets initiative, making Hilton the first major hotel company to institute science-based targets. 

Since 2008, Hilton has already reduced its energy and water consumption by 20%, and its carbon footprint by 30%.

“If you just look at this from the perspective of running a business, energy is typically a hotel’s second-highest operating cost."
Daniella Foster, Senior Director for Corporate Responsibility, Hilton.

The company is one of 38 members of EP100, which, delivered in partnership with the Alliance to Save Energy, aims to significantly scale up corporate action on energy productivity. A recent report by the International Energy Agency shows  global energy efficiency gains since 2000 prevented 12% more energy use and 12% more greenhouse gas emissions in 2017.

For Hilton, increasing energy efficiency is leading to further benefits. “When we  added our smart laundry technology,  we discovered hotels use  less energy and  water,” says Foster.

Hilton is also reducing energy with its Connected Room Technology.   Using the Hilton Honors app, guests can use their mobile phones as the in-room remote to control the heating, lighting and air condition.

“From a sustainability perspective, this has tremendous potential,” says Foster. “We know guests typically spend 70% of their stay outside the room. If you could make sure the lights are off in that time, with the climate at a reasonable state, that can have a great impact.”

Daniella Foster, Hilton, at Climate Week NYC 2018

Daniella Foster, Senior Director for Corporate Responsibility, Hilton, at Climate Week NYC 2018

A powerful business case

Smart innovations like Connected Room allow individuals to play an active role in saving emissions from Hilton properties, directly responding to growing consumer demand for greater sustainability.

In 2018, Hilton asked guests about their buying preferences. Approximately  1/3 of 72,000 respondents said they research a hotel’s social and environmental efforts before booking.

“This survey has definitely helped make the business case for advancements in sustainability at our hotels,” Foster explains. “If you look internally at our business as well, I’d say nearly half of our team members are millennials or younger. These are issues that our Team Members care about. As part of operating a long-term, sustainable business, we have to think about the future.”

Hilton is part of a growing movement of businesses increasingly taking action. A recent report by EP100 member Johnson Controls shows 59% of organizations plan to increase investment in energy efficiency and smart building technology within the next year. The top five drivers for doing so include energy cost savings, brand reputation and employee retention.

“Lowering energy use right across the private sector is vital if we are to achieve no more than 1.5 degree global warming, so it’s encouraging to see large companies like Hilton step up,” says Mike Peirce, Corporate Partnerships Director, The Climate Group.

“Putting energy efficiency at the heart of growth strategy makes business sense – it lowers risk, saves money, and delivers on the expectations of shareholders. We call on businesses everywhere to seize the opportunity.”

Read more about EP100 here.

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