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Environmental Issues Are Constantly

Environmental issues are constantly a topic that is being brought up in every industry. With global warming increasing and natural resources decreasing, this is an issue that the hospitality industry should take more seriously. There has been some change in the industry that include being more environmentally friendly, but ultimately hotels could do better. My idea for innovation in the hospitality industry is the addition of green roofs or areas in hotels. Making green roofs and spaces an industry standard could have a huge impact on the hospitality industry and the world.

Green roofs originated back to the 1970s in Germany, but it has only recently become a popular idea of sustainability. A green roof is a type of roof system that utilizes plant life as roof covering for a building instead of traditional roof materials. For the green roof to function correctly, it would have to consist of a slab of concrete that would be the base, a suitable waterproof membrane, a draining layer, a filter fleece, a growing medium, and of course the plant life itself. There are different kind of green roofs for different types of buildings and their roof structures. The simplest type is the extensive green roof which would only have a thin layer of soils and low-growth grass and plants. The next type would a semi-intensive green roof which involves a deeper level of soil, and it would only grow shrubs, herbs, and grasses but not trees. Lastly, there is an intensive green roof which holds the deepest layer of soil, and can grow any variety of plant life including small trees. If an establishment decides to integrate a green roof, they have to be conscious of the amount of planning and cooperation it takes to build a green roof. Also they have to be conscious of the costs it takes to building a green roof, and the costs to maintain it.

Green roofs and spaces have become a popular idea of sustainability in recent years. Not only because of benefits to the environment, but also benefits to consumers and businesses alike. There are different types of green roofs and green spaces that could accommodate pretty much every type of property. First, the benefits to the average customer will be explored. This is a great innovation as it does not need to target a specific customer and everyone could enjoy it. Green spaces would provide an area for guests to relax and enjoy beautiful scenery. Sitting areas can be placed here for people to congregate or get some quiet time. Also, customers looking to get fresh air would be able to do so without leaving their hotel. It would also be a competitive advantage to hotels not offering it because it would be a beautiful feature that guests are probably not used to.

Benefits to the hotel are also an important factor. Hotels that implement certain green roofs or spaces could benefit based on the amount of storm water they collect, which could be reused in different areas of the property. Since the green roof would replace common roof materials, and the plant life absorbs the rays of the sun it would help to reduce operation costs such as heating and cooling costs. Which company wouldn’t like to save money in any way possible? With the growing trend of “Going Green”, establishments with a green roof can use that to their advantage to attract more people to their building, and it’ll also give the building a good reputation of being ecofriendly. Also, if a hotel has rooms that view the green roof they can sell those rooms and maximize their revenue. Furthermore, a green roof can be very profitable for a building since it can be used as a venue for events. Small weddings, company parties, or a regular party can be held in a green roof due to the beautiful scenery which would be a profitable usage of space. A green roof also expands the value of a property since the building has an increase in its efficiency. Even though building a green roof can take a big dip in an establishment’s fund, the building will begin seeing a profit in five years after setting up the green roof.

Aside from just benefitting the establishment a green roof can help our environment. Green roof reduces Urban Island Effect, noise levels in urban areas, and can introduce new wild life in the roof top garden. Also it can bring positive effects to the community, can create a more relaxed environment for employees, and create more job opportunities related to manufacturing, plant growth, design, installation, and maintenance. Green spaces are also not just specific to hotel properties. This innovation could be implemented in restaurants, private clubs or convention and meeting centers due to versatility which would benefit the entire hospitality industry.

In order to translate this innovative idea in terms of a hotel, I collected some data regarding implementing this. Upfront costs of green roofs vary greatly, however would only occur one time. I thought it would be more beneficial to look up recurring costs to see how feasible it would actually be to implement this. In my hypothetical property, the square footage of the roof is around 10,000 square feet. Costs for green roofs in the United States range from about $15 to $20 per square foot. This would mean my upfront cost for my green roof would be between $150,000 and $200,000. Using cost estimates for green roofs, maintenance at my hypothetical hotel property for this green roof costs approximately $18 per square foot including the trimming, the fertilizer, and new grass seedlings if they are needed. However, with all the storm water stored and energy savings will lead to a benefit of approximately $19 per square foot, so the establishment will actually have a $1 profit per square foot.

Additionally, there is a minimum of three maintenance visits per year that is required for an extensive green roof during the establishment period. After the establishment period, the visits would decrease to only to two visits per year for an extensive green roof. Many cities and states provide tax credits for roofs that support living vegetation and meet storm water and green space regulations. This could help offset costs of the roof since properties could potentially receive tax breaks. Green roofs could also save energy costs equivalent or exceeding the cost of implementation over it’s life span.

Naturally, there are challenges to this innovation. First and foremost being the price points of implementing green spaces. However, as mentioned earlier in this report, there would be ways for the industry to recuperate the loss. With the benefits of being able to add revenue with pricing on events in the green space or just providing an added appeal to the overall property, overtime the money would make itself back. Realistically, there would most likely not be opposition from the target population as customers would either think the idea was great or just not have an opinion on it at all. I do believe that millennials would be more of the target customers for this idea.

Millennials do not just care about the basic expectations anymore. They expect more as a generation and would like to feel as if they are contributing to something. This idea would give them a greater sense of purpose when choosing what properties to visit, our have a meeting or event. This would help add value to the dollars they are deciding to spend within our industry. I anticipate that if hotels and businesses alike would adapt this idea on a larger scale that it would become what’s expected, such as the idea of all hotels having a pool area, and other’s not doing the same would be forced to keep up. Thus providing a better source of renewable energy for hotels and putting out better emissions into our environment. The potential for this idea is vast as it can be implemented in many different ways on many different scales.

Green roofs and spaces also provide a great impact to the surrounding community of the property. One way this impacts the community positively is by aiding in reducing their carbon footprint, thus help making the city a more desirable place to visit and live, especially in largely urban areas. Having a green roof or green space provides more jobs for people in this community. Like stated before, it is important to provide maintenance on these sort of locations. Hotels and properties alike could do this by either hiring their own staff or contracting out to local landscaping and greenery based businesses thus helping boost local economy. This might not benefit the hotel directly, but it does provide a positive image of them to people in the community which could boost business or increase brand loyalty.

The hospitality industry has not widely accepted the idea of green roofs and green spaces, but hotels are always looking for ways to reduce costs and green roofs can assist with that. Green roofs are attractive, appealing, sustainable, and can set a property apart from other properties. Green roofs are just not to make a profit for a hotel, but also aids in the bigger picture as a step forward into taking care of our environment.

Freelance Writer

I’m a freelance writer with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Boston University. My work has been featured in publications like the L.A. Times, U.S. News and World Report, Farther Finance, Teen Vogue, Grammarly, The Startup, Mashable, Insider, Forbes, Writer (formerly Qordoba), MarketWatch, CNBC, and USA Today, among others.