A hotel with no fridge, harvests rain: Sudima Hotel shows why the carboNZero rating is vital for a nation that sells itself as clean and green

A hotel with no fridge, harvests rain: Sudima Hotel shows why the carboNZero rating is vital for a nation that sells itself as clean and green
Picture owned by Sudima Hotel
Sudima Auckland Airport, part of the Sudima Group, recently became the first hotel in New Zealand to attain carboNZero certification. You read correctly – New Zealand, which sells itself to the world on the clean and green platform, took until 2014 to present a carbon neutral hotel to domestic and international travellers, and for now, we’re on our own.

Here’s why we know it matters. From anecdotal feedback from both travellers and those working in the tourism industry, we have learned how consumers choose their accommodation providers and that eco-awareness is playing a large part in decision-making. Most of our clientele travels for business, and many companies have sustainability as a criterion in choosing suppliers so will select us over our competitors.

Vetting suppliers

We operate in the same manner – we met individually with our 20-plus hotel suppliers to encourage sustainable practices, which helped our bid for Sudima Auckland Airport to become the country’s first carboNZero hotel. But, this is just one string in our bow and there are still many other factors businesses must consider when focussing on sustainability. The carboNZero accreditation process helps a business to count emissions and pinpoint the places where big changes can take place – from there, continual improvements can take place over and above what is required under this one particular certification.

Why it matters in the long run

To boil it down, why focussing sustainability efforts benefits business in the long run:

  • It is not just your customers (and potential customers) that want to support companies with a progressive approach to sustainability; your would-be employees want to work for those companies. If you want the pick of the bunch working in your business, you need to demonstrate why this is the kind of forward-thinking company the best people want to be with;
  • It’s a way to streamline your systems and output. The steps you take in order to qualify for certification will highlight any dark corners you might have overlooked in suppliers or operational areas. You will be forced to examine expenses and wastage in every area of your business, and unless you already run an exceptionally tight ship, you are likely to find ways to save money just by going through the process;
  • You’ll set yourself apart from your competition in a tangible, measurable way. In some sectors, such as FMCG, sustainability has become a common touchstone, but in the hotel industry (and others) there’s a long way to go. Depending on your industry, you have a chance to really make your mark – and consumers are taking note and making spending decisions based on this factor;
  • It will get you noticed and potentially set a standard that elevates your industry. Enviro-Mark Solutions, a subsidiary of Landcare Research, owns and manages the carboNZero certification programme, and its CEO Dr Ann Smith reports that since Sudima Auckland Airport made its announcement, Enviro-Mark Solutions has heard from other hotel operators in New Zealand that want to discuss certification. Why not be the one to lead?
  • It’s an important proof point. Sudima Auckland Airport is a new hotel that opened three years ago with many green elements in its design, construction and décor. However, existing and potential guests and potential visitors weren’t necessarily aware of our advanced position compared with other providers, and the certification is a tangible item that people recognize. If you’ve already worked hard on sustainability in your business, getting certified can validate your efforts; there may be unexpected benefits.
  • Entering the Enviro-Mark Solutions ‘family’ opens you up to collaboration and knowledge-sharing among its members, and you will likely make connections that will enhance your business through new custom and referrals. 

The path to carboNZero certification

  • Start with Enviro-Mark Solutions, the subsidiary of Landcare Research that owns and manages the carboNZero certification programme. Whatever your business or line of work, before you start out they can advise you on the feasibility of pursuing certification and the steps you need to take;
  • For all applicants, the process is roughly the same. Start by measuring your company’s greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the ISO standard for reporting greenhouse gas emissions and removals, and then put in reduction plans and work to offset all remaining emissions;
  • In our case, we took six months to determine current actual carbon emissions by measuring all goods and products supplied to the hotel by more than 20 other companies; assessing use of natural gas and electricity and the quantities and disposal of waste; and tracking air and car travel by our staff;
  • Once emissions are determined the equivalent carbon credits can be purchase, and the company will be required to change practices and features where necessary to reduce and mitigate its emissions year-on-year.