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Lamington Group: The time for action is now

The sustainability manager of Lamington Group, Chantal Beaudoin, explains the firm’s movements towards sustainability and why it is essential that businesses particularly in the hotel industry take urgent action to tackle the climate crisis, having recently launched its first whole life net zero carbon hotel, room2 Chiswick, in an interview with Hotel Owner

How has Lamington Group incorporated sustainability within the company?

Sustainability is a journey not a destination. At the start our objective was to become operationally net zero carbon but after completing a full carbon assessment of our operations, buildings and supply chain, we realised that being operationally net zero alone ignores the majority of emissions that come from embodied carbon in our buildings’ construction and over their lifetime.

We thought we could do better which is when we aligned to best in class standards by the London Energy Transformation Initiative (LETI) and UK GBC Net Zero Building Framework to develop our new Whole Life Net Zero Carbon building specifications with specific targets that recognised our impact starts from the first brick laid, through the operation, to the eventual demolition of our buildings.

We reviewed our current portfolio of properties and developed a plan for them to reach net zero. We also upgraded our heating efficiencies to move our entire estate to 100% electric and source 100% renewable energy by 2030.

Our managing director Robert Godwin led the way in prioritising and investing in sustainability. He created a sustainability department and supported the establishment of a new sustainability programme called Team Planet to engage and incentivise staff across the business to be involved in sustainability and take on actions within their own area.

Tied to this is a sustainability bonus where individuals and teams get financial rewards for their performance and impact. This means that sustainability is embedded across the organisation’s culture and everyone is responsible for working towards our sustainability goals as a collective.

How is room2, Chiswick going to operate in a sustainable way?

Our flagship hotel opening in December is going to be the world’s first whole life net zero hotel and is set to be 89% more efficient than the traditional UK hotel. It is a real-life example of what is possible and sets a new benchmark for the industry in terms of carbon and sustainability.

The building is 100% electric and has a ground floor heat pump looping 200m underground converting all of the energy needed for heating, cooling and hot water. It has on-site solar panels as well as two ‘lab rooms’ providing real-time granular data on energy, water use and air quality to learn from sustainability interventions and guest patterns and behaviours. It will also have a blue roof for mitigating against local flooding and a green roof to increase biodiversity.

We put our values and standards on sustainability into room2 Chiswick, from the interior finishes prioritising local, reclaimed or recycled furniture, to selecting vegan toiletries. The hotel also includes custom-made 3-in-1 room recycling bins, separating food waste and mixed packaging. This will truly be a cutting-edge sustainable hotel like none other.

Do Lamington Group have any goals for the company’s sustainability efforts?

We have just published our net zero roadmap for the Lamington Group which includes three industry leading commitments.

Firstly, to only develop and operate whole life net zero carbon buildings, secondly, to reach our science based target of 46% absolute reduction of scope one and two by 2030, whilst growing from 300 keys to 5,000 keys, and thirdly, to report and reduce our scope three emissions including our supply chain and guest travel.

Why do you think there is a focus on being sustainable at this time?

We can no longer ignore the climate crisis and the science is showing us that we need to take urgent action in order to mitigate the worst consequences that are already being seen and predicted.

We are also seeing expectations and care from our customers, investors growing on sustainability issues, and I think in the post-covid world it is important that this focus remains as we build back better and create a green recovery.

Do you think we will see a shift to sustainability being one of the main decision-makers in the industry as a priority?

The climate crisis is our biggest challenge and the time for action is now.

The effects in action are having devastating impacts for people and our planet, with increased extreme weather events and food and energy insecurity that disproportionately affects the most vulnerable.

Coupled to that, buildings account for 40% of global carbon emissions and so for us we want to be part of the solution and lead the change.

The hospitality industry is currently not making enough progress to address the climate crisis. The sector needs to do better and shift to net zero to reduce its whole life carbon footprint.

Do you believe other hoteliers match Lamington Group’s sustainability efforts?

Most hotels have only set net zero operational carbon targets or have published partial data on their carbon emissions, whereas we have set a new sustainability benchmark to only build and operate whole life net zero carbon hotels. We have also published all of our carbon data, standards, and decarbonisation plans to reach science-based targets, for others in the industry to view and replicate.

We have shared our roadmap publicly so that it can serve as a blueprint to inspire and equip others to take-on whole life net zero carbon standards because we might be the first but we certainly cannot be the last.

Do you think a change of focus on sustainability will affect sales?

We hope that customers will vote with their values and choose us because of shared sustainability values and credentials and we also have not compromised on style or comfort, it’s just done in a more environmentally conscious way. Our guests can get the best of both worlds and be able to feel good, not only in the experience and services that we provide but on our environmental standards that enable them to have a net zero carbon stay with us.

 

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