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Whitbread's Environmental Leadership

By Super Admin
By James Pitcher — Whitbread is the UK’s largest and fastest growing hospitality company and we have ambitious plans for our two leading brands, Premier Inn and Costa. By 2020, we plan to increase the size of Premier Inn to around 85,000 UK rooms and sales of Costa to around £2.5 billion. 
With this huge growth comes responsibility, which is why Good Together, our corporate responsibility strategy, is central to our business and our vision. We’re leading the UK hospitality sector in the transition to a low carbon economy and increasing investment in proven green technologies. We’ve also set ourselves stretching targets to ensure we reduce our carbon footprint and minimise our energy usage, while still achieving the same results for our customers. 
We want to reduce our carbon emissions by 15%, water consumption by 20% and increase the direct operations recycling rate to 80%, all by 2020. That means building work across the business is set to the highest sustainable standards and investment in retrofitting or refurbishing the existing estate with energy efficient equipment and building materials is important to us. 
We were thrilled to win at Business in the Community’s 2016 Responsible Business Awards in the Asda Environmental Leadership category for our efforts tackling climate change and saving energy through our two trail-blazing environmental projects - the Costa Eco-Pod in Telford and the hub by Premier Inn St. Martin’s Lane hotel. 
Costa’s Eco-Pod
The Costa Eco-Pod in Telford is the UK’s first ‘zero energy’ coffee shop building in the UK – meaning renewable energy created on site balances out the cost of the energy consumed. We realised that Costa’s fastest growing market segment is in retail parks and ‘drive thru’, and that achieving energy savings in these spaces is usually limited by a building’s environmental performance.
So, we agreed on an innovative investment model with the landlord, Hammersons, designed to deliver a common goal of a low carbon future. The resulting lease arrangement breaks the mould of traditional deals, with Costa agreeing to a higher rent in return for the financial benefits of occupying a building with a lower energy and water usage, and therefore cheaper running costs.  
Building design technologies coupled with rainwater harvesting, high levels of air tightness and insulation and high specification glazing have combined to provide Costa with a truly efficient shell, saving operational energy and water costs over the 10 year lease. We used detailed simulation analysis with studies of tenant energy demands and internal heat gains to ensure that on-site renewable energy generation would provide sufficient energy to offset the energy demands of the building heating, ventilation, air conditioning and lighting, and make the project cost neutral. 
Hub, by Premier Inn 
Hub by Premier Inn, in Covent Garden, London, with its state of the art heat, cooling and energy saving technologies, is the first hotel in the world to achieve an ‘Outstanding’ BREEAM rating (an assessment method for infrastructure and buildings) at design stage. We integrated sustainable technologies and construction techniques into the hotel design to enable Hub to reduce energy use, save water and encourage local biodiversity. 
We also created a smaller room format, giving us access to a broader range of buildings in city centres. That means it is cheaper to build, and the format works in large high property cost city centres. Hub has 25% lower build and operating costs compared to a Central London Premier Inn, a result of pioneering investment in smart growth.
Preparing for the Future 
Whitbread is replicating these concepts across the business and the wider hospitality industry. We plan to build on the knowledge gained from the first sites and evolving our model as we move forward. Hub by Premier Inn has secured 14 locations, right in the heart of London and Edinburgh, giving approximately 2,000 rooms over the next three years. Costa has also been approached by other landlords to deliver similar schemes for “Drive thru”, and other retailers are visiting the site to understand more about the design and the leasing concept. The Eco Pod demonstrates that landlords and tenants can work together to achieve a low carbon future and, ultimately, proves that Zero-energy retail is a reality.
As one of the UK’s largest companies we have the responsibility and the opportunity to act as a force for good. This is not just the right thing to do, it is vital if we are to build a sustainable business for shareholders in the long term.
More information on the Asda Environmental Leadership Award, and all other categories, can be found at awards.bitc.org.uk 
James Pitcher is Corporate Social Responsibility Director, Premier Inn and Restaurants