citizenM secures Sustainability Linked Loan with aim to reduce environmental impact

WORLDWIDE: citizenM has secured a dual currency €243.3M and £201.7M Sustainability Linked Loan (SLL).

WORLDWIDE: citizenM has secured a dual currency €243.3M and £201.7M Sustainability Linked Loan (SLL).

The loan is with HSBC UK and HSBC Continental Europe, ABN AMRO Bank NV and Aareal Bank.

The completion of the loan means citizenM is one of the first European hospitality businesses to adopt the SLL funding structure.

By refinancing existing debt as a SLL, citizenM aims to reduce its environmental impact and drive continued sustainable growth. Green funding is often seen as a way to attract further investment for future growth as sustainability rises in importance for ESG and corporate sustainability targets.

Klaas van Lookeren Campagne, chief executive officer at citizenM, says: “At citizenM, we take sustainability seriously. We seek to build and operate hotels that minimise our impact on the environment, and it is important to us that our ongoing commitment to sustainability is reflected in every facet of our business. For this reason, we are immensely proud to have secured sustainability-linked funding, particularly given the complexity of the transaction, completed by a diverse lender group across Europe.”

The funding was provided equally by ABN AMRO Bank N.V., Aareal Bank and HSBC (UK and Continental Europe), with HSBC UK acting as facility agent and HSBC Continental Europe acting as Sustainability Linked Loan Co-ordinator.

Elizabeth Davies, head of hotels at HSBC UK, says: “We’re very proud to have completed this deal with citizenM. With its high profile in the hospitality sector, we expect that citizenM’s relatively early adoption of the Sustainability Linked Loan will help to drive further market adoption, as hospitality groups seek to demonstrate a serious commitment to creating positive impacts on the environment.”

Fred Bos head commercial clients sector, sustainability and E&E expertise at ABN AMRO, says: “We see climate change as the greatest threat to humanity. We view this cooperation as a positive step towards the prevention of climate change and as an opportunity to grow our loan book in a responsible way. We look forward to scaling what we have achieved with this financing structure more widely across the highly attractive hotel industry.”

citizenM launched in 2008 and operates 31 hotels worldwide across 18 cities and 9 countries, with a further 14 in development. In Europe the key target cities for new sites are London, Paris, Milan, Rome, Dublin, Munich, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Zurich, Geneva, and Barcelona.

The company has a firm commitment to sustainability targets and continued improvement to its existing green building certifications.

citizenM requires all its new-build hotels to achieve at least BREEAM-NC Excellent (ideally – Outstanding) accreditation or LEED-BD+C Gold (ideally – Platinum) rating. For redevelopments or existing buildings, the company aims for BREEAM-NC Very Good and LEED-BD+C Silver (at least).

Other sustainability processes by citizenM include:

– 100 per cent of its hotel electricity in Europe and UK comes from renewable energy sources
– energy, emissions and water consumption has been third party assured – to make sure figures are right
– citizenM stopped putting plastic water bottles in guest rooms and societyM meeting rooms. This has mean using 1.7 million fewer plastic bottles per year. 
– It donates 3 euros to our charity when a guest staying two nights or more skip their room clean
– Only LED lights are used, from the bedrooms to the kitchens
– BMS means once a guest checks out, the lights in their room switch off automatically. Also all areas of the hotels have individual light and temperature controls – so it only heats and cools according to use
– citizenM tracks waste and recycling rates in every hotel
– with its partners, citizenM reduces food waste by 70 per cent with intelligent portioning and packaging
– citizenM signed up to the TooGoodToGo app to sell breakfast buffet leftovers which would otherwise go to waste.

You can read more about what citizenM does with its ESG programme here.

Certification for sustainable hotels a “mess”

This area is complex, and the market is flooded… we look at how to navigate the sustainable certification market and what is worth a stamp of approval…

This area is complex, and the market is flooded… we look at how to navigate the sustainable certification market and what is worth a stamp of approval…

There are more than 200 companies worldwide offering sustainable accreditation and certification processes to hotels and hospitality groups. That’s a lot to choose from, and the quality and offerings vary widely from self assessment which is submitted to receive a stamp of approval, to in-depth audits and regular “health checks” to make sure the sustainability targets set are being met. It’s a headache for hotels and it’s a headache for guests looking for more sustainable stays.

Last year released its 2022 Sustainability Report with insight from more than 30,000 travellers from 32 countries. The research highlighted that for many people the impact of their trip on the environment does feature highly on their considerations when booking. 57 per cent of travellers from the UK wanted to travel more sustainably in the next year, which is a 27 per cent increase on last year’s response. 71 per cent of travellers said that sustainable travel is important to them, and almost half of all respondents (42 per cent) cited that recent news about climate change has influenced them to make more sustainable travel choices. 

This demand for more sustainable stays is unlikely to go away but the amount of different certifications for hotels makes it confusing for everyone.

Randy Durband, CEO of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council says: “GMs of hotels all over the world are confused – the big players [in accreditation] – who are the big players? There are too many of them to be big. They are all suffering from lack of scale.”

In this flooded market, there is no alignment, which makes it very difficult for hotels and guests to make sense of the different types of certification.

Of course there are a few big names which use a third party and have been around for decades, think of LEED and BREEAM, and more recently B Corp has shown it’s worth as one to be contended with (there are hoops to jump through and companies have to prove they are improving on their targets).

But what other sector allows so many award bodies to give out their own awards after “coaching” a company? For some reason hospitality allows this to happen a lot of the time without a third party involved. Some accreditation companies charge a hotel or group of hotels to fill out forms in order to get a stamp of approval. It’s like paying for a driving instructor to stamp that you’ve passed the test, after a few lessons.

As Randy Durband, CEO of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council says: “If you are going to follow international norms, we need to clean up the mess – certification is defined by ISO 17021. It is a judgement – not coaching.”

The GSTC was created by the UN to be the certifiers of certifiers. So it sets the standards for tourism across the board. Something the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance also backs.

Claire Whitely head of environment, Sustainable Hospitality Alliance says: ‘The GSTC are the certifiers of certifiers – they set the standards for what a robust certification should be and they cover environmental and social – all of sustainability and make sure certification recognised by them lives up to it. If accommodation providers are looking, I’d recommend the GSTC.”

The Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, which represents over 40,000 hotels, equating to more than seven million rooms, helps hotels and accommodation providers with their sustainability goals and processes including offering the free toolkit with carbon and water measurements. The idea is the Alliance can guide a hotel or group on their sustainability journey.

The Alliance launched its Pathway to Net Positive Hospitality this month, which provides a practical framework to enable every hotel to work towards net positive impacts. It doesn’t matter what stage the hotel or group is at on the journey to net zero, the Alliance will be there, and it backs the idea of a more aligned certification process.

The sustainable certification process will be one to watch in the sector. But those who embrace alignment and collaboration, as well as globally recognised third party approved standards, will be the ones moving forward with giant positive steps.

TUI aims for all hotels and resorts to be zero carbon by 2030

WORLDWIDE: TUI has pledged its hotels and resorts worldwide will reach carbon zero emissions by 2030.

WORLDWIDE: TUI has pledged its hotels and resorts worldwide will reach carbon zero emissions by 2030.

The company has also committed to reduce its emissions on its cruises and airlines package holidays over the next seven years, and aims to be net zero across all operations and supply chains by 2050.

For the hotels and resorts, this means working with renewable energy and practising resource saving operational activities. As well as reducing food waste by 25 per cent by 2030, in the next two years TUI aims to eliminate all “unnecessary” plastic packaging and items. 

TUI is using science-based stats as a baseline for its sustainability efforts starting from its reporting and stats from 2019, and is working with the GSTC to achieve its sustainability goals. 

TUI’s agenda is built on its long standing historical efforts with 54m holidays delivered to hotels independently certified as sustainable between 2015 – 2022. A quarter of TUI hotels already generate green power on-site from solar and the company wants to enable 20m customers by 2030 to be able to book a sustainable stay – so it will be interesting to see what happens with the booking process (Google and offer a sustainable stay search option).

Sebastian Eble CEO Tui Group says: “Sustainability is a top priority for me personally and for TUI. We have proven in the past that we have the expertise and the right approach to make tourism more sustainable. That’s why we don’t see sustainability as a threat – for us, it’s an opportunity. We wanted to be led by the latest climate science, which is why we are working with the Science Based Targets initiative.”

As an experiment into sustainable practices TUI also has its development on Rhodes, which is being used to create a beacon for sustainable tourism. The project is run with both the TUI Group and the government of the South Agean, the Greek Government and TUI Care Foundation. The five year experiment which began in 2022 has 27 projects being tested for measurements and statistics to create a blueprint for future sustainable hotels and resorts. Actions at the Rhodes development include reducing plastic, and food waste, roadmaps to make the island carbon neutral and up-skilling tourism workers. 

For more information on TUI’s sustainable efforts and roadmap see the PDF on the Sustainability page on the website.

Kew Green Hotels to manage Morocco’s first eco-village

MOROCCO: UK-based Kew Green Hotels has been appointed by Earth Holding, as the hotel management company for Azembay, the first eco-village in Morocco, North Africa. 

MOROCCO: UK-based Kew Green Hotels has been appointed by Earth Holding, as the hotel management company for Azembay, the first eco-village in Morocco, North Africa. 

Azembay, which is due to reopen next year, will feature 206 villas and apartments, waterfront restaurant, a spa, conference and events spaces and a kids club. 

Set in 1,000 hectares of forest and leading to a private beach, Azembay is known as the first eco village in Africa, and was built to international energy efficiency standards.  

Through its partnership between Earth Holdings, Kew Green Hotels, intends to build an international brand which provides a purely sustainable experience. 

Chris Dexter, CEO of Kew Green Hotels said, “We are delighted to welcome Azembay into our family of hotels as we continue to expand our international hotel portfolio. At Kew Green Hotels, we set ourselves apart by combining years of experience with strong commercial awareness to deliver operational excellence and industry-leading profit delivery for hotel owners and partners.” 

Azembay will be the pilot project of this brand, the first to be developed globally, which will focus on making sustainability and well-being the essence of a new travel experience. 

Azembay will be autonomous both in terms of water and energy supply, producing its own drinking water, vegetables through a permaculture field and school, fishing boats, and an animal farm – all of which will serve the five restaurants of the village and supply a basis for activities both for adults and the kids’ club.  

Activities will feature educational elements for guests to learn about leading a more autonomous and sustainable lifestyle. The resort will be car-free with green mobility including horses, mule carts, and electric vehicles.

Youssef Benamour, owner at Earth said: “We are thrilled to be working with hotel management specialists, Kew Green Hotels, to realise our vision of delivering a pure-play eco resort, offering laid-back luxury that both harnesses and enhances our local community and natural environment, offering our guests an authentic experience in this stunning area of Morocco. We are also pleased that Azembay serves as a blueprint for innovation to showcase best practices in sustainable development technologies” 

The resort is just 45 minutes from Casablanca and just over an hour from Casablanca International Airport. 

Kew Green Hotels launched in 2001 with one hotel and is now a leading hotel management company with more than 55 international hotels.

Kew Green Hotels has pledged to become Net Zero by 2040 – 10 years ahead of the Paris Accord Target. Kew Green Hotels also became Planet Mark certified through measuring and reducing its carbon footprint. It measured scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, using data from 2019, which has been the most comparable year of trading. It aimed to reduce its footprint by 10 per cent by the end of last year. 

Planet Mark is an internationally recognised sustainability certification for every type of organisation. A Planet Mark certification recognises continuous improvement, encourages action and builds an empowered community of like-minded individuals.

Last month saw “the first eco hotel” opening for the Garden of England, Kent, UK.

Accor commits to net zero emissions by 2050

Accor has committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 and increasing energy “sufficiency” in the short and long term.

Accor has committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 and increasing energy “sufficiency” in the short and long term.

In early 2021, Accor was the first international hotel group to make a long-term commitment to decarbonise all its operations and to achieve net zero by 2050. This included a 46 per cent emission reduction by 2030 validated by SbTIs (Science based Targets Initiative).

Given that 63 per cent of the Group’s carbon footprint is energy related, accelerating energy transition is central to this commitment and depends on a low-energy, low-carbon approach: With this in mind Accor has committed to promote a low-carbon mindset in hotel operations and with all its supply chain, including its suppliers, fully transitioning to smart, sustainably designed hotels and by accelerating the use of green energy.

Designing Low-energy Buildings

Accor signs an average of one new hotel every day worldwide. Every year, several hundred establishments are also renovated. For construction and major renovation projects, Accor has long been committed to transitioning to low-energy buildings with the double benefit of reducing carbon emissions and operating costs. Securing the future also means continuing to innovate by choosing low-carbon building materials that can be recycled, including high-performance insulation that significantly reduces energy consumption. It also means accelerating the purchase, production and use of low-carbon energy sources and, when possible, generating renewable energy directly on site. Two examples of these practices are:

  1. The Sofitel Dubai The Palm, which opened in 2013, was designed with roof tiles made from a insulating, sun-reflecting material, double glazing, energy-efficient air conditioning, a heat recovery system, presence detectors for corridor lighting and 530m2 of solar panels that cover 45 per cent of the hotel’s hot water needs. It was the first hotel in Palm Jumeirah and the first Sofitel in the Middle East-North Africa region to receive Green Globe certification.
  2. In 2017, the JO&JOE Gentilly, near Paris opened and is a low-carbon building and the first Accor hotel to achieve the BBCA label based on four criteria: reasoned construction, controlled use, carbon storage and circular economy. 

Embracing Energy Sufficiency

As energy prices spiral, particularly in Europe, the term “energy sufficiency” has been used by governments and institutions. In France, the government has called on companies and citizens to turn off little-used appliances and implement behaviour changes to use energy more sparingly. In this context, Accor has contributed to a national energy-saving plan for the hotel industry. The Group recently announced that it was implementing an ambitious and sustainable energy sufficiency approach in France covering four main areas:

  • Reduce air conditioning heating and cooling intensity
  • Use hot water moderately and intelligently by closing external pools and reducing availability of energy-intensive facilities, such as steam rooms and saunas
  • Reduce electricity consumption including shutting down over 50,000 minibars
  • Adapt behaviours and optimise maintenance in the kitchens to use less energy for cooking and cooling

Accor is a leading hospitality group consisting of 5,300 properties and 10,000 food and beverage venues throughout 110 countries. The group has one of the industry’s most diverse and fully-integrated hospitality ecosystems encompassing more than 40 luxury, premium, midscale and economy hotel brands, entertainment and nightlife venues, restaurants and bars, branded private residences, shared accommodation properties, concierge services, co-working spaces and more. Accor’s position in lifestyle hospitality – one of the fastest growing categories in the industry – is led by Ennismore, a joint venture, which Accor holds a majority shareholding.