Marriott Reduces Water and Energy Use by Double-Digits

by | Jul 29, 2022

(Historic Marriott Syracuse. Credit: Petros PACE Finance)

Marriott is the largest hotel chain in the world if measured by the number of rooms it provides. It has 30 brands, 7,642 properties, and more than 1.4 million rooms in 139 countries and territories. Of the 8,100 properties under its name, most of them are  franchised.

From a 2016 baseline, Marriott has vowed to reduce water intensity by 15%, carbon intensity by 30%, and waste-to-landfill by 45% by 2025. It has also promised to run its hotels using 30% renewable energy while ensuring they meet the highest efficiency standards by 2025. 

“We want to be known as the world’s favorite travel company while fulfilling our global responsibility to be a force for good,” said Denise Naguib, vice president, sustainability and supplier diversity, Marriott  International, who has spoken at Environment+Energy Leader conferences in the past.

Among the steps it has taken:

  • Replacing smaller, single-use toiletry bottles in guest-room showers with larger bottles. When it is implemented across the globe, it will prevent about 500 million tiny bottles from going to landfills annually – in support of Marriott’s goal to reduce waste by 45% by 2025;
  • Planting 36,000 new trees in the United States and 9,000 in Canada. Marriott aims to curb deforestation and associated greenhouse gas emissions in a 2,770-square-mile (7,174-square-kilometer) reserve with significant land-use pressure in Brazil’s northwestern Amazon rainforest. As of year-end 2020, 98.7% of the Reserve remains preserved;
  • Marriott partnered with The Ocean Foundation to support the Insetting Carbon Through Sargassum Mitigation Pilot Project. The project aims to convert sargassum seaweed into organic compost that farmers can use. The concept removes the seaweed from the beaches and sequesters and stores carbon in the soil, generating extra income for the farmers.
  • The goal is to cut food waste prevention at its hotels by 50%, and 
  • They are using on-demand cooling systems to serve customers while delivering water and energy savings. The modern tools detect corrosion and use real-time data to respond immediately.

And sustainable buildings 

Better standards mean creating resource-efficient hotels, purchasing sustainable products, and supporting environmental initiatives. To that end, it started a program in 2016 to ensure its properties are environmentally efficient and certified by a third party by 2025.

By 2025, Marriott also wants to create 250 adaptive reuse projects. That means breathing new life into older buildings — as opposed to tearing them down and rebuilding them with more contemporary materials. “The embodied energy of the existing building reduces the overall carbon footprint compared to constructing that same building from the ground up. As of year-end 2020, Marriott has opened 184 adaptive reuse projects globally since 2016,” says the company’s 2021 sustainability report. 

What about energy and emissions? 

Marriott has signed on to the Science-Based Target initiatives, which aim to comply with the central tenets of the Paris climate agreement: keeping temperature increases to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius by mid-century compared to the dawn of the industrial revolution. In the immediate term, it wants to cut CO2 intensity by 30% by 2025 from a 2016 baseline — not part of the Science-Based Target initiatives.  

Furthermore, Marriott aims to source no less than 30% of its overall electricity from renewable energy by 2025. It has a long way to go: in 2020, it says it sourced 0.8% of its electricity consumption from green energy.

Globally, Marriott wants to install on-site renewable energy. For example, in 2020, it installed solar photovoltaic (PV) panels at one of its properties in Cartagena, Colombia. It expects to generate approximately 146 MWh of electricity. It did the same at its Ritz-Carlton in Turks & Caicos. It commissioned a 210.6 kW solar PV system for the property’s rooftop. The grid-tied rooftop installation will generate approximately 310 MWh of electricity and avoid over 240 tons of CO2 emissions annually. Finally, in late 2020 it installed nearly 1,800 solar panels that produce 50 kWh at its Riyadh Marriott Hotel. It may reduce the hotel’s annual CO2 emissions by approximately 89%.

What about water savings? 

Marriott aims to cut water intensity per occupied room by 15% from a 2016 baseline. The initiative targets dishwashing and water service at restaurants and events, major plant operations; landscaping/ irrigation; and golf course maintenance/operation. Marriott says it implements action plans, utilizes technology to reduce water leaks, and establishes standards to better manage water withdrawal at Marriott properties.

“Across the globe, Marriott’s full-service, managed properties can elect to use a water conservation action item for their annual signature project, such as the installation of low-flow toilets and shower heads, smart irrigation controllers, laundry water reuse systems, and high-efficiency irrigation spray nozzles,” says the sustainability report. “Many of these water conservation projects are also designed to improve energy efficiency.” 

In 2020, 66 hotels reported 68 water efficiency projects. That includes everything from upgrading showers and toilets to improving laundry services. Marriott says the improvements could reduce water consumption by approximately 8,233 cubic meters.

What about waste-to-landfill and food waste? 

Marriott aims to reduce waste-to-landfill by 45% and food waste by 50% from a 2016 baseline. How?

For example, five hotels in the Asia Pacific have water bottle refills — things that prevent the single-use of plastics. The Westin Kuala Lumpur aims to eliminate 400,000 plastic bottles a year. The hotel chain plans to switch from small toiletry bottles to residential-sized amenities. When fully implemented across the globe, the program may prevent about 500 million tiny bottles annually from going to landfills.

Meantime, in 2020 Marriott developed a food waste tracking and reporting methodology. It works with the World Wildlife Fund and others. It started tracking these things this year. 

“Our hotels also remained committed to our food waste reduction practices, including separating food waste for compost and donating leftover food to local communities in need,” says the report.

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