Scenic Hotel Group Champions Change Toward a More Sustainable Future
For over forty years, New Zealand-owned and operated Scenic Hotel Group have led the way in caring for visitors from around the country and the world. Part of this uniquely New Zealand hospitality experience is connecting guests with people, property and places; these include many of New Zealand’s most treasured environments and communities where tourism, along with primary industries typically agriculture are the key drivers of their economies.
Now, Scenic Hotel Group is amplifying its commitment to community and environment and building on forty years of caring at a local level to now champion change on a larger scale. Scenic Hotel Group CEO Karl Luxon says, “For forty years, our hotels have supported local community initiatives alongside a strong social and environmental mandate for their locations. We are now building on this foundation to take a group-wide approach to ensure a more sustainable future for hospitality and how we do business both in New Zealand and the world beyond.”
Luxon describes the process toward creating a more sustainable future as a “journey of discovery,” with the goal of identifying and aligning the group’s activities with six UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These were identified as part of a robust process involving the whole group to Address, Improve, Refine and Adopt sustainable strategies that could and would make a positive difference at a local and group level and, in doing so, demonstrate climate-positive action. Luxon says aligning our activities and goals to these SDGs offers a “potent benchmarking tool for the organisation that is also recognised and understood globally.”
Developing sustainable strategies has been an ongoing focus of the group, but the work of the past six months has stepped up to meet the demands of our customers and suppliers. Luxon points to increased enquiry, particularly from business, meetings, leisure and government customers around the group’s sustainable policies and practices. This thread is one that the group has now taken through to its procurement processes to ensure alignment with the organisations and products it is working with.
Taking a closer look at product origins, the total supply chain, ability to return packaging, recycling protocols and ‘take back’ schemes are all considerations in the procurement process, combined with deeper involvement in mid to longer term community and business sector projects. This has also been extended into how the communities Scenic Hotel Group is represented in can also benefit from sharing in such initiatives with Scenic investing in wider community infrastructure to fast track and enable change.
A holistic view of the whole business was crucial for giving it meaning and purpose. “It was important to look beyond just developing policies that looked good for our bottom line. We wanted to go beyond basic compliance to make a positive impact and demonstrate leadership in this space.” Luxon hopes that this work will prompt other businesses in the sector to take another look at their operations and says there is an “open door,” to share learnings and experiences for the betterment of the industry all round.
A robust audit process of the entire business, which engaged the services of Sustainability Consultant Annabelle Burgess of ‘Third Era’, provided the team with a clear understanding of the business’s footprint. Once established, the group collectively looked to solutions and practices that would work toward the specific SDG goals. Luxon summarises the process as being; Identifying Impact, Reducing Impact and then a little assistance by Offsetting the remainder. It is a goal to not need to be offsetting with credits within three years as the other projects will ultimately bring the largest reduction to our emissions. Scenic Hotel Group has teamed up with B-Corp-certified Kiwi enviro-tech company, CarbonClick. They have forged a global leadership position in delivering high-trust carbon offsetting programmes for more than 1000 companies worldwide.
Understanding the size of our carbon footprint impact was a “Big but fundamental piece of work.” Energy generation through general power usage and high energy units such as refrigeration, kitchen ovens, cooling and heating systems dominate emission levels. Grouped into this was also technology that has traditionally emanated from energy-hungry server rooms. Changing to cloud applications is one example of our immediate and positive impact.
Other elements Luxon says will take time and further capital expenditure from the business. Based on the mission, 20% of the Group’s CAPEX has been set aside to enable more energy-efficient equipment and systems.
The process has also offered many immediate opportunities to make a difference. One significant resourcing element has been the expansion of long-serving Property Development Manager Richard Hayman’s role which now adds the position of Environmental Policy Advisor to his responsibilities. Richard is a qualified Architect with a relentless enthusiasm for a sustainable approach to design and function.
While Scenic Hotel Group has always been about people and place, Luxon says, formalising and creating a plan and robust benchmarking against SDGs will be critical to the organisation’s success in taking immediate and impactful climate action.
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