Make space for green hotel buildings in emerging markets

It is estimated that 80% of the buildings required in Africa by 2050 are not yet built – in contrast to Europe, where 80% of the building stock needed by 2050 already exists.

This presents a tremendous opportunity for investors and for property developers, whether in housing, retail, offices or hotels. It seems like this is Africa’s time to develop and grow a sustainable (hotel) building stock. And this week, which is 2017 Green Building Week (#OurHeroIsZero) is a good time to talk about it.

Over the past decade, many large hotel companies have significantly reduced their energy and water footprints. At Carlson Rezidor, for example, we took 25% of our energy and water consumption off in just five years.

However, to stay in line with the requirements of COP21, the carbon emissions of hotels will need to be drastically reduced: 60% by 2030 and 90% by 2050. This means we all need to step it up to decarbonize hotels. Such results can only be achieved if the new hotels that come online are truly green buildings.

Luckily there’s EDGE, the modelling tool and green building certification for emerging markets of IFC, a Worldbank division. A building is ready to be EDGE certified when it performs 20% better on energy, water and embodied energy compared with the country’s baseline.

The best positive impact is achieved when green considerations are incorporated from the design phase of a building. When sustainability is brought in from the start, building green does not cost more than building a hotel otherwise.

Stop and read this sentence again, as many misconceptions exist about the cost of green buildings.

Thinking about green design and using EDGE benefit both the hotel investor and operator. For example:

  • It is estimated that every dollar saved on operating cost increases the asset value by US$10
  • Green-certified hotel buildings have a higher RevPAR, with premiums from US$3 to US$10, according to EDGE and Cornell University
  • Reducing the wall to window ratio and installing high performance glass can save 20% or more on energy use in a building

Proof of the green hotel benefits is delivered by a rapidly growing group of Carlson Rezidor hotels:

  • Radisson Blu Ghana, part of the mixed-use development The Exchange, is the first EDGE Design certified hotel in Africa
  • The recently opened Radisson Blu Resort Swinoujscie in Poland is a great example of a LEED-certified upper-upscale hotel. It is the first LEED-certified 5-star hotel in Poland.
  • The Radisson Blu Aqua is LEED-Silver certified (read more here).

Bringing new green hotel buildings online in emerging markets makes business sense and is totally feasible.

The SPACE conference in June 2018 will gather interested parties and offer great insights in how to turn this ambition into a reality and to leapfrog to sustainable buildings in Africa. 

Read more tips during this week’s World Green Building Week.