Monitoring energy consumption in coastland-hotels helps reducing their emissions and having a more efficient use of resources: new paper out

imatge paperA new article has been released in Science of the Total Environment where the UNESCO Chair ESCI-UPF has collaborated with the Escola d’Enginyeria d’Igualada UPC, Cyclus Vitae Solutions, Usak University and the Instituto Andaluz de Tecnología. The article’s title is “Inventory analysis and carbon footprint of coastland-hotel services: A Spanish case study” and it can be downloaded from the journal’s website.

 

Tourism is a key sector in the Spanish economy: our country ranked world top three by international tourist arrivals and by income in 2015. But this industry is also responsible for 5% of global emission of CO2. Although the development of tourism industry is essential to maintain the established economic system, construction of new infrastructure and continuous pollution due to the increment of tourists may significantly increase the depletion of the local ecosystem. Environmental requirements must be considered in order to avoid damage to local resources from which tourism depends. On the other hand, the exponential growth of the global tourism sector, its scale of consumption and level of impacts on the environment, need an urgent and imperative response.

In line with the Sustainable Tourism Program (of the 10-Year Framework of Programs on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns), this work evaluates the average carbon footprint of an overnight stay in a Spanish coastland hotel by analyzing 14 two-to-five-stars hotels through a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) perspective. The obtained inventory data proposes resource consumption averages that can be useful to establish best practices to promote hotels environmental performance.

According to the results, 2-star hotels have the highest carbon emissions values followed by 5 and 4-star hotel categories, while energy and water consumption are proportional to the number of stars and the occupancy rate. The main identified hotspots are electricity and fuels consumption, which are proportional to the number of stars and unoccupancy rate and produce more than 75% of the impact.

The paper concludes that voluntary implementation of environmental monitoring systems (such as EMAS, EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) promotes collection of detailed and accurate inventory data, which facilitates mitigation of resource use through the establishment of best practices within the hotel, which in turn would be a primary opportunity to promote sustainable consumption patterns in Spanish hotels.

Several approaches have been taken on the identification and evaluation of the environmental impacts of tourism sector: the paper includes five different subsections -environmental impact assessment of tourism sector, environmental impact assessment of holiday packages, energy audit in hotel buildings, life cycle energy analysis, and environmental impact of food consumption-, which facilitate a complete overview of the analysis.

This is the first time that a study presents an inventory data of Spanish hotels, which will be useful for tourism related managers to calculate sustainability key indicators, which can lead to achieve real sustainable-tourism goals. Data collection should be expanded in future projects by gathering data from more hotels, other accommodation facilities and also other products and services offered by the tourist sector in Spain on the way towards a sustainable tourism private sector.


 

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