Carbon Emissions Series: Scope 1 for Hospitality

In my previous post, I identified carbon emissions as the significant metric to track for hospitality, and I explained why hospitality is one of the best industries to target for sustainability efforts. Now I’d like to delve deeper into the different types of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and how they relate to hospitality. My goal of this three-part explanation is to provide our readers with a broad understanding of the scopes of GHG emissions and with a general idea of the extent to which hospitality contributes to climate change. Let’s jump right in!

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol defines three scopes of emissions. Our discussion today will focus only on the first scope, as it relates to hotel properties: direct, on-site emissions.

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol, an internationally recognized accounting tool for business and government emissions reporting, identifies three “scopes” of emissions: scope 1, scope 2, and scope 3. For the purposes of our discussion, we’ll focus on the lodging sector of the hospitality industry. Today we’ll look just at scope 1, as defined by the GHG Protocol:

Scope 1: Direct GHG emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by the company.

Our discussion will be straightforward, since Scope 1 emissions for the hospitality industry are relatively simple. For scope 1, think of emissions that are emitted on-site. If a hotel property has a furnace, vehicles, or a generator, these are all on-site, owned sources that emit greenhouse gases. Scope 1 measures the emissions that essentially come from any fossil fuels burned on the property or that the property has direct control over. Here are some examples potential scope 1 sources from your typical hotel:

  • Service equipment, vehicles, shuttles, etc.
  • Furnaces and heaters that run on any fossil fuel
  • Kitchen equipment that runs on natural gas
  • Boilers
  • Backup generators
  • Fugitive emissions from refrigerants (e.g., CFCs, HCFCs, etc.)

It’s important to note that scope 1 emissions stem from the burning of fossil fuels on-site; it does not account for indirect GHG emissions from electricity consumption (we’ll get to this later, as this is scope 2). As such, scope 1 for hotels tend to represent the minority of emissions, but scope 1 is also source that is easy to control.

Given that most of a hotel’s scope 1 emissions come from owned assets, much responsibility lies on the property owner to take action (to some extent, the operator as well). Asset managers and owners who are concerned about climate change should therefore ensure that their properties use energy-efficient boilers, furnaces, vehicles, and equipment. Some may be surprised to learn that the seemingly large initial investment required to replace old, inefficient equipment will be paid back in a matter of a few years–and continue generating savings in the long run.

3 thoughts on “Carbon Emissions Series: Scope 1 for Hospitality

  1. I totally agree with you that unfortunately today, owners and makers of such decisions cannot understand the interest of an investment like that. Companies, whatever their domain of activity, do not take enough actions to produce and function with greener procedures.
    Why? In the case of hospitality, what are the barriers which lead the owner’s to refuse the investment: lack of financing possibilities, an unknown future so do they not want to take the chance, lack of information and education on the issue, lack of government pressure??? It could be really interesting to see in your case the barriers. The ones listed above refer to the Greek situation today in terms of Green investments.

    • Excellent point–and I’m glad to hear from Europe!
      American owners and investors tend to be short-term in their thinking, and the typical holding period for an owner might be 3-5 years. So if a major investment doesn’t pay off in that time, they won’t bother.
      Another barrier is our operators. Hotel operators are constantly pressuring owners to invest in front-of-house, which contributes to overall appearance and bolstering ADR (but generally does not increase efficiency). It’s the classic push and pull between operators and owners.

      • Exactly things are going too fast today, humans do not take the time to live life and business follows the same path. Ecology and evironmental strategy are long-term policies. I really wish new generations will react to this and calm down….

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