Running one of the West Country's oldest coaching inns, the management team at the http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2010/06/18/333846/caterer-roundtable-on-the-green-challenges-for-hospitality.htm" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">Bear hotel](http://www.thebearhotel.net/) in Devizes knows it has much to address when it comes to environmental performance. Being a small business it can be tough to know where and how to start, but the Bear now has the opportunity to benefit from some expert know-how, having won Caterer and [VisitEngland](http://www.visitengland.com/)‘s competition to pilot a new [Green Start tool](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2010/06/18/333846/caterer-roundtable-on-the-green-challenges-for-hospitality.htm) and honestly evaluate the process.
Located in a large, Grade II listed building and owned by [Wadworth Brewery](http://www.wadworth.co.uk/), the Bear hotel faces challenges familiar to many a tourism business when it comes to environmental programmes. Despite the hotel being recently refurbished, managing director Clive Sherman is well aware of the constraints involved in running an historic hotel. These restrictions have a direct impact on the carbon footprint of the establishment which, although showing a respectable "score" on the Green Start programme, made it difficult for Sherman to identify easy ways to extend the green practices already in place.
"If I am completely honest, the words environmental, green and carbon footprint have always filled me with dread, especially in an old listed building like this," he says. "It's an area that every hotelier knows has to be addressed, and indeed wants to buy into, but is often very vague and difficult to define. We do try to be as environmentally conscious as we can, but we are a listed building, rooms are panelled and beamed so some actions like switching off lights at the front of the hotel are not an option.
"Green Start has made me feel like I can take our existing initiatives further without undermining customer quality."
The first step in the programme is a review of how the business is currently performing in six key areas - environmental management actions; initiatives to reduce energy, waste and water consumption; working with the supply chain; engagement with the local community; marketing green credentials; and regional specific issues.
The review revealed that the Bear has already begun to take action on a number of issues. For example, a number of waste streams are already being recycled, local suppliers are already widely used for guest toiletries and, in the kitchen, the use of energy efficient lamps is under consideration and staff are asked to switch off lights and other equipment when not in use.
Once the review was complete, the system generated an action plan to help the Bear secure further cost savings and begin the process of marketing some of its existing initiatives. The plan contained 11 actions out of a potential 40, all of which are realistic and likely to deliver cost savings. "The action plan gives us a useful document that we can use to implement further cost-saving environmental actions," Sherman says.
"All of the actions have supporting information to help us implement them effectively, alongside examples of how other businesses like ours have implemented them. We have already started following the plan and will provide staff training in the next few weeks."
TOP 5 ACTION PLAN ITEMS
1Appoint a green champion, who will ensure that environmental actions happen, co-ordinate a green team and deliver cost savings on time and to budget.
2 Train staff. Good staff training can reduce energy consumption by 5%.
3 Read electricity and water meters regularly and check the fill levels of waste bins. Taking data from meter readings and plotting it year-on-year can highlight changes in consumption and identify potential faulty equipment.
4 Work with suppliers. Ask suppliers if they can reduce packaging, which is expensive and can be difficult to dispose of.
5 Promote public transport. It reduces the need for car parking space and can attract those customers looking for "green" businesses.
THE GREEN START TOOL
VisitEngland has established an electronic tool to help any small tourism business develop a strategy that delivers cost savings alongside sustainability improvements.
The Green Start programme offers managers of tourism and hospitality businesses the opportunity to implement and sustain comprehensive cost-saving environmental programmes which allow for all the quirks and individual challenges of a particular establishment or business practice.
[Caterer roundtable on the green challenges for hospitality >>