Sustainable Development Success Stories

International Hotels Environment Initiative

Location  Global.
Responsible Organisation

The Prince of Wales Business Leaders Forum.

Funding is provided by Accor, Bass Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Forte Hotels, Hilton International, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Marco Polo Hotels, Marriott International Inc., Radisson SAS Hotels Worldwide, Scandic Hotels AB, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., and The Taj Group of Hotels. CH2M Hill and American Express Establishment Services provide additional funding.


IHEI was founded in 1992 by a consortium of chief executives from ten multinational hotel groups. IHEI is an ongoing educational charity that functions to encourage continuous improvement in the environmental performance of the entire hotel industry. IHEI is a catalyst and a conduit for its members to pool their resources and to share their successes via a non-competitive platform. Its primary objectives are to:

  • raise environmental awareness in the hotel industry

  • develop hotel-specific environmental information, enabling hotels of all sizes to implement environmental programs

  • promote good practice internationally by working with hotel associations, governments, NGOs, and tourism bodies

  • enable the hotel sector to position itself as a leader in sustainable development within the tourism industry work with partners that can multiply IHEI's reach and impact.

Issues Addressed Industry initiatives, influencing consumer behaviour, promoting broad-based sustainable development while safeguarding local cultures and the environment, and the coastal impact of tourism.
Results Achieved
  • In 5 years, IHEI has evolved from a fledgling industry initiative to an organization of global proportions. In concert with its members, representing more than 8,000 hotels on five continents, IHEI has succeeded in raising environmental awareness amongst the international hotel industry, tour operators, government bodies, the media, academia, and hotel industry suppliers. For example:

  • Since 1993, IHEI's initiatives have reached hotels in 111 countries; member hotels now represent 1 million guestrooms.

  • Hilton International's Vienna Hilton and Vienna Plaza hotels save approximately 164,000 kg of laundry annually by giving guests the option of not having their towels changed daily.

  • Marco Polo Hotels has been running a company-wide Eco-Tournament since 1995, to generate ideas and support from its staff for company efforts to improve environmental practices

  • Water conservation initiatives at the Singapore Marriott Hotel and Tang Plaza hotel complex save about 40,000 cubic meters of water annually, a saving of nearly 20%.

  • Raddison SAS Hotels' corporate purchasing department has forged long-term relationships with vendors that already supply or can prove they are willing to develop environmentally preferable products.

  • Scandic Hotels has pioneered a 97% recyclable hotel room, and is building or refitting about 1,500 such rooms annually. Other environmental improvements by Scandic include using about 20% less water per guest than it did three years ago.

  • In 1998 IHEI launched a new hotel industry initiative, the Siting and Design Programme, with a vision towards defining specifications for new hotel development that will cause minimum environmental damage, and minimise routine operational environmental impacts.

Lessons Learned

Experience has taught IHEI to understand the convergence of social and economic issues as they relate to sustainable development and tourism. As a consequence, the urgent need to confront these moral and ethical matters is being communicated to its member hotels, and many are translating that understanding into action. The success of these efforts by IHEI is largely the result of:

  • promoting the business benefits associated with sound environmental practices and socially responsible business practices

  • a dedicated focus on a single sector (hotels) a genuine commitment from senior level executives

  • the fostering of a non-competitive, self-help approach for use by the wider industry

  • collaboration with partners that have substantially helped to multiply the reach and impact of IHEI's programs.

Contacts Ms. Karen Fletcher,
Director International Hotels Environment Initiative
15-16 Cornwall Terrace Regent's Park
London NW1 4QP United Kingdom
Tel. (44) 171-467-3620; Fax (44) 171-467-3610
E-mail: info@ihei.org
Web page: www.ihei.org

Mr. Charles Nouhan,International Hotels Environment Initiative
15-16 Cornwall Terrace, Regent's Park,
Tel. (44) 171-467-3623
E-mail: charles.nouhan@ihei.org