The Business Case for Sustainability: Intercontinental Hotels

Bob Willard’s video, “The Business Case for Sustainability” explains that companies on the journey towards sustainability move through several stages before reaching a 4th stage, called the “Integrated Strategy”. At this stage, everyone in the organization is involved in eco-efficiency processes, resulting in enhanced company profits. The business case is furthered by a Graves and Waddock study, detailing that stock prices of values-led companies outperform the average by 11.6%.
The Economist on-line two weeks ago covered a story illustrating a recent example of the business case for sustainability, by describing the “Green-Engage” initiative undergoing trials by the Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG)

Central to this initiative is a best-practice software tool that permits the managers of the 4,000 hotels in the IHG portfolio to learn from each other. The tool works by IHG hotels directly inputting data onto a site, which the system then uses to automatically compare hotels of a similar nature in the chain across the world. The output is a series of suggested actions that if implemented, will allow each hotel to reduce waste, energy consumption and water usage. The system also provides ideas for recycling, insulation etc.
Trials have shown that these steps can produce potential energy savings of up to 25%. Andy Cosslett, the boss of IHG, projects worldwide savings of $200 million and significantly reduced energy consumption. What I find interesting about “Green-engage” is that rather than a “head-office” down directive, the initiative allows shared experiences and best practices to flourish laterally throughout the organization. This clearly exhibits a trait of the “integrated strategy” whereby everyone in the organization is able to partake in the sustainability process.
Phil Covington is an MBA student at the Presidio School of Management, with a background in the transportation and logistics industry

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