Paul Snyder, IHG Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and GSTC Board Member

Paul Snyder, IHG Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and GSTC Board Member

An interview with IHG’s Paul Snyder about the successful Green Engage program.  

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is the newest sponsor of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), and one of the leading hotel companies, with 4,700 hotels around the world. You are probably familiar with their well-known hotel brands, including InterContinental®, Crowne Plaza® and Holiday Inn®. IHG’s Corporate Responsibility programs focus on environmental sustainability, sustainable communities and disaster relief.

IHG’s environmental sustainability program, IHG Green Engage, is a system that measures the impact IHG-branded hotels have on the environment, and helps them manage costs. At the beginning of this year, IHG made a powerful demonstration of their ongoing commitment to protecting the environment and rolled out the program across the company’s global estate of over 4,700 hotels.

IHG Green Engage measures and monitors the daily usage of energy, carbon, water, and waste, as well as creating action plans to reduce resource usage while benefitting the bottom line. Additionally, IHG Green Engage is aligned with third-party certification programs to help streamline the process for IHG-branded hotels to achieve these recognitions. This includes GSTC Recognized Standard and Member- Green Globe and GSTC Member Green Key Global. The program’s sustainability system is also aligned with LEED® building standards.

Rooftop garden on Hotel Indigo, San Diego, California

Rooftop garden on Hotel Indigo, San Diego, California

More about IHG Green Engage

IHG’s decision to sponsor the GSTC was influenced by Paul Snyder, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility. In an interview, Snyder explains why IHG joined the GSTC as a sponsor and how the IHG Green Engage program works-

Why did IHG choose to support the GSTC?

The leadership initiative that the GSTC has taken on, as well as the quality and scope ofmembership were important factors that we considered in the decision. GSTC is a group that we felt we could both contribute to and also learn from.

How does IHG fit into the GSTC mission, principles, and community?

IHG has a franchise business model, and many IHG hotel owners and operators around the world are committed to environmentally sustainable business practices. Part of IHG’s Corporate Responsibility focus is to empower our owners and operators to create a sustainable hotel and business, so we put the strategies, systems and tools in place to help them achieve their goals at .

Overall, Corporate Responsibility is a part of the way IHG does business and at the heart of everything we do. We go beyond environmental sustainability, and also make an impact at the community level, where our hotels operate in more than 100 countries around the world. IHG Academy is designed to meet that need by providing collaboration between IHG hotels and local education providers to give local people skills training to help them find work and opportunity at IHG or in the hospitality industry.

Also, when disaster strikes, we help our hotels respond effectively and quickly to the needs in their local community through the IHG Shelter in a Storm program.

Solar panels on Holiday Inn Express & Suites El Centro

Solar panels on Holiday Inn Express & Suites El Centro

 How does the IHG Green Engage program make the “business case” to encourage participation, engagement, and promotion of the program? What about the “sustainability case”?

Honestly, the business case makes itself. We have performance, cost and impact data from 2,800 hotels, over half of our global estate. Because of the tool’s ability to compare similar hotels, it is easy to see what solutions work to reduce energy, waste and water. This reduction of resource use directly translates to financial savings, so hotels also see the impact to the bottom line

IHG Green Engage is divided into levels, and Level 1 certification has been proven to pay back in less than a year and have a significant positive impact.  Most importantly, we have many hotel owners and operators that deeply care about the environment and community, and they are motivated to build a better hotel that is more sustainable. It’s just the right thing to do.

 Since the inception of the IHG Green Engage program, is there a hotel that came up with an innovative and exciting solution to improve environmental standards?

Sometimes it is about just getting down to the basics and changing simple practices that can have a big impact. For example, a number of years ago we started planting climate appropriate foliage to save water. This may seem obvious, but it is a practice that can go unnoticed.

We have hotels that get creative and add roof top gardens and beehives. They are able to harvest and incorporate this food into hotel restaurant menus, and that also provides a way for guests to learn about the hotel’s sustainability program. Also, in 2012, IHG partnered with Clean the World that recycles soap and shampoo products discarded by the hospitality industry. Through the distribution of products to at-risk people, we are able to help prevent deaths caused by hygiene-related illnesses. With over 200 Green Solutions, IHG Green Engage is a very comprehensive program that has a true impact on environmental sustainability and our business.