Cornell Study Proposes Uniform Sustainability Reporting Framework for The Hospitality Industry

Jul 18, 2011

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Cornell Study Proposes Uniform Sustainability Reporting Framework for The Hospitality Industry

Customers and investors want to know about hotels' carbon footprints

Ithaca, NY, July 18, 2011 – Travelers and other consumers increasingly want to know about the carbon footprint and other sustainability information connected with their hotel stay. In response, most hotel companies have developed methods to answer this question—but so far, no single method for calculation has been widely adopted. As a result, travelers find it difficult to compare one hotel to another, and many industry leaders have called for a uniform method of reporting on the many items relating to sustainability.

A new report from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) analyzes the wide diversity of sustainability factors, and explains how those measurements can be compiled to report on sustainability performance. The report, "Developing a Sustainability Measurement Framework for Hotels: Toward an Industry-wide Reporting Structure," by Eric Ricaurte, is available at no charge from CHR at In addition to the carbon footprint, the report examines energy use, water consumption, and waste generation, all of which are at the forefront of stakeholder information requests. Ricaurte consults companies on corporate responsibility and sustainability.

"The CHR commissioned this report after we received requests from lodging industry leaders at several CHR roundtables and conferences," noted Professor Rohit Verma, CHR executive director. "We were delighted when Eric Ricaurte took the lead in developing this measurement framework. He had the able assistance of Paul Hildreth, of Marriott International, David Jerome at InterContinental Hotels Group, and Faith Taylor, of Wyndham Worldwide. Now, the industry needs to move this process forward."

Ricaurte added: "I want to underscore the fact that the lodging industry has moved quickly to respond to requests from guests, investors, and other stakeholders regarding sustainability. Although most hotel companies have developed platforms to address these requests, it's hard for consumers to make use of the data because the individual reports, assumptions, and measures are not always communicated uniformly. What we need now and in the future is industry collaboration to gain agreement around these issues."

The study presents a comprehensive framework for sustainability reporting, which is then tested using actual 2010 data from 20 hotels operated by InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott International, or Wyndham Worldwide. The study determines that standard metrics are certainly feasible, although no single catch-all industry benchmark will adequately represent the environmental footprint of guests' hotel stays, nor is comparison a straightforward matter. Instead, the industry can provide measurements that allow the accounting and comparison of carbon footprints that stakeholders request.

Thanks to the support of the CHR partners listed below, all publications posted on the center's website are available free of charge, at

About The Center for Hospitality Research
A unit of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, The Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) sponsors research designed to improve practices in the hospitality industry. Under the lead of the center's 78 corporate affiliates, experienced scholars work closely with business executives to discover new insights into strategic, managerial and operating practices. The center also publishes the award-winning hospitality journal, the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly. To learn more about the center and its projects, visit

Center Senior Partners: ASAE Foundation, Carlson Hotels, Hilton Worldwide, McDonald's USA, Philips Hospitality, SAS, STR, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, and TIG Global

Center Partners: Davis & Gilbert LLP, Deloitte & Touche USA LLP, Denihan Hospitality Group, eCornell & Executive Education, Expedia, Inc., Forbes Travel Guide, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Fox Rothschild LLP, French Quarter Holdings, Inc., HVS, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, Jumeirah Group, LRP Publications, Maritz, Marriott International, Inc., Marsh's Hospitality Practice,, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Proskauer, Sabre Hospitality Solutions, Sathguru Management Consultants (P) Ltd., Schneider Electric, Thayer Lodging Group, Thompson Hotels, Travelport, and WATG

Center Friends: • Berkshire Healthcare • Center for Advanced Retail Technology • Cruise Industry News • DK Shifflet & Associates • • EyeforTravel • Gerencia de Hoteles & Restaurantes • Global Hospitality Resources • Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) • • • Hospitality Technology Magazine • Hotel Asia Pacific • Hotel China • • International CHRIE • International Hotel Conference • International Society of Hospitality Consultants (ISHC) • iPerceptions • JDA Software Group, Inc. • J.D. Power and Associates • Lodging Hospitality • Lodging Magazine • LRA Worldwide, Inc. • Milestone Internet Marketing • MindFolio • Mindshare Technologies • PhoCusWright • PKF Hospitality Research • The Resort Trades • Resort and Recreation Magazine • • Shibata Publishing Co. • Synovate • The Lodging Conference • The Wall Street Journal • The TravelCom Network • Travel + Hospitality Group • UniFocus • USA Today • WageWatch, Inc. • WIWIH.COM • Wyndham Green