Since environmental issues related to scarcity of clean water, air pollution, acid rain, global warming, the increased amount of hazardous chemicals in our food, are becoming global and health concerns among the world’s population are rising, sustainability cannot remain solely a hot topic for discussion, sustainability should become a business imperative across all industries.
The 21st century customers exude greater awareness of the aforementioned issues and create whopping demand for greener products and services that enable them to live in a more sustainable way.
To be successful in the years to come, organizations should realize that by incorporating sustainability practices into their business activities they can gain greater market share, more loyal customers, and as a result boost profits. Moreover, sustainability helps companies differentiate themselves, enhance their image in front of shareholders and the public, spark innovative ideas, attract and retain employees who are passionate about jobs where they can make positive impact on the environment and society.
Boutiquehotel Stadthalle, the world’s first city hotel with a zero-energy balance and the first hotel in Vienna (Austria) that was awarded with the EU eco-label, provides a telling example of how business "can do well by doing good”. Michaela Reitterer, the owner of the hotel, emphasizes that " the time is right for a paradigm shift towards the responsible and sustainable use of resources. The Stone Age didn’t end because the stones ran out, but because change was inevitable. The same applies to tourism and real estate. Therefore it seemed logical to construct a building which wasn’t dependent on the volatile and overchanging prices of gas and electricity. In the future green buildings will sell for higher profits”.
Perfect notion of current and upcoming trends, creative thinking and decent dose of enthusiasm, a wonderful team of A-players helped Ms Reitterer substantiate her vision despite early skepticism that "it couldn’t be done because it’s never been done”. Efforts of Michaela didn’t go unnoticed, hotel gained recognition and numerous awards. Follow the link to see all awards:
Ethos of sustainability is woven into hotel’s DNA and makes Boutiquehotel Stadthalle an enticing place for the guests from around the globe. Michaela Reitterer and hotel team believe that sustainable business, sustainable relationship with their guests and staff , and sustainable use of energy and resources are goals of the first priority.
To achieve these goals, team of the Boutiquehotel Stadthalle employs the following strategies :
1.Operate the building efficiently, focus on energy and material saving
According to CSR report, " in the course of the year Boutiquehotel Stadthalle creates same amount of energy that is required to run it”. Michaela Reitterer mentions : "Using 160 m² of solar panels, we are able to produce hot water, our 93 m² photovoltaic system allows us to produce our own electricity. Ms Reitterer also adds : "We applied for 3 urban wind turbines to be installed on the roof in order to produce electricity, and are waiting for approval”. In the entire hotel, only energy-saving lamps and LED lamps are used. Rain water is collected and used to flush toilets. This activity encourages to minimize the use of tap water for cleaning purposes. Thermoactive construction methods enable to warm rooms in winter and cool them in summer.
200 m² lavender field planted on the roof of garden building is a fascinating and one-of-a-kind place. It’s renowned not only for its charm and lavender aroma, it also makes it possible to use no air conditioning in the rooms below garden. To save energy, towels and bed sheets are changing according to the guest’s request. In the offices only energy saving machines are utilized. Both sides of the paper are used when printing documents for internal use.
2. Develop waste stewardship and greener cleaning practicesIn order to minimize environmental footprint, staff at Boutiquehotel Stadthalle elaborated waste stewardship and greener cleaning practices. "In the reception and the kitchen 4 different rubbish bins are provided. On the chamber maid trolley waste is separated straight away into paper, plastic and glass bottles. There are 5 different rubbish bins (paper, organic, plastics, metal, non-recyclable waste ) in the disposal room. All of these bins are getting collected once a week, non-recyclable waste twice a week.
Hazardous waste is collected separately and gets transported to a special waste disposal site once a month. Bottles are collected separately in a public waste container.”
To limit exposure to toxins and chemicals, "cleaning products are used sparingly and are biodegradable”. "Reliance on cleaning products is reduced using microfiber cleaning cloths and a specialized cleaning plan designed just for the Boutiquehotel Stadthalle”. "Only organic fertilizers and herbicides are used in the hotel garden”.
3.Use materials and packaging with a high post-consumer recyclable contentUse of materials with a high post-consumer recycled content is another ecidence that underpins the hotel staff’s statement : "Waste reduction and proper recycling are important to us ".
Fabrics for curtains and seat covers are produced according to the cradle-to-cradle principle. Toilet paper is made of recycled fibers. Napkins are also made of recyclable materials.
To further sustainability and avoid waste, staff at Boutiquehotel Stadthalle considers packaging of products that are delivered to hotel : "If possible we use large packaging units to avoid waste. For example, we prefer a certain Austrian cottage cheese of great quality in a 5 kg jar over 34 little cups of BIO-cottage cheese. We do not serve packaged foods at our buffet except for Becel Butter and Nutella”. Moreover, all suppliers are requested to take package material with them and dispose it correctly.
4. Purchase products from the local suppliersPurchasing regionally and seasonally takes priority at Boutiquehotel Stadthalle. Hotel staff underscores : "We choose to cooperate with partners who share our approach to and standards for quality. We try to ensure that transportation of goods is efficient and kept to a minimum. For example, egg supplier and beekeeper whose honey we purchase live in the same village, so they alternate delivering their products to us on a weekly basis”.
"All of the wines on our wine list come from Viennese vineyards, to promote the exceptional quality of local wines and to support regional businesses”. Local purchasing practices help Boutiquehotel Stadthalle achieve several goals : eliminate transportation costs, reduce greenhouse emission caused by transportation of goods, get organic products from trusted suppliers. Hotel staff mentions : "We prefer to buy apples from Austria rather than papayas from Venezuela”.
5. Provide training opportunities for employeesThe hotel team is strongly commited to excellent hospitality and green tourism : "Environmental awareness is a priority for each and every one of us. Working together in a zero-energy hotel is our way of preserving the environment for our children and grandchildren to enjoy. Living and breathing environmental awareness is a matter of pride for all our team members”.
Staff at Boutiquehotel Stadthalle is given an opportunity to attend training on sustainability. "When starting work employees receive a starter package that provides guidelines regarding recycling in the employee’s first language. First aid training courses are organized for hotel team. Michaela Reitterer states : " We pay for all seminars of our employees and offer those actively”. An up-to-date information on sustainability helps employees generate and adopt innovative ideas.
Stress-free work environment and mutual interest in practices that ensure better environmental performance keep employees motivated. Hotel owner Michaela Reitterer underscores : " Sustainabilty has a lot to do with congenial working environment; we recognize the strength of our employees and encourage them. High performance is rewarded through a revenue bonus system.
6. Encourage customers to act in a sustainable mannerStaff at Boutiquehotel Stadthalle firmly believes that business can make utmost contribution into environment and society only in that case when both business and customers act in a sustainable manner. To encourage environmentally friendly behaviour, Boutiquehotel Stadthalle offers "green bonus” for the guests who travel by train, bike or any other eco-friendly way to Vienna. Green bonus presents in itself a 10% discount on the price of the room during stay. Green bonus is also valid for NGOs and environmental organizations, repeat guests for their loyalty.
Hotel’s own e-bikes are always available for rent. Michaela Reitterer mentions : "We built a bike garage for our guests, with its own charging station. We rent e-scooters to our guests, so they can explore the city using bike path and without polluting the air. We only call taxi services which have hybrid cars”. Green ideas of the month presented at hotel’s website enhance Boutiquehotel Stadthalle’s brand of hospitality and environmental consciousness and makes guests internalize green spirit.
7. Donate to projects that focus on the solution of the environmental and social issuesTo bring sustainable practices on a higher level and express its commitment to solving social and environmental problems, Boutiquehotel Stadthalle partners with charity organizations and supports a great variety of projects. "From all guests that do not stay with us we request a donation of 5 euro per person for guided tours. The full amount is donated to charitable organizations, in particular Wiener Tafel”.
According to CSR report, " in the year 2010, Boutiquehotel Stadthalle received 5000 euro in prize money for Hotelforum’s Blue award, at the Expo Real in Munich. Boutiquehotel Stadthalle donated this prize money to 3 single mothers all of whom were raising a child with disabilities, and who needed help”.
The whole hotel team with Michaela Reitterer at the helm is focused on the expansion of the hotel and aimed to adopt new sustainable and innovative practices. Ms Reitterer states : " Personal feedback and suggestions from returned questionnaires continue to surprise us with their creativity and attention to detail. It gives us the chance to continuously improve our services and amenities”.
The sky is the limit for the hotel team. Members of the team don’t stand still. They develop new projects and move towards advancement because they are driven by the motto : "You must be the change you wish to see in the world”.
Written by Natalie Myhalnytska