Cian Hatton is Head of Energy and Environment at Whitbread Hotels and Restaurants. Prior to joining Whitbread in September 2015 he spent eight years with Tesco Stores Ltd and seven years with GlaxoSmithKline, where he held a range of engineering and energy management positions. In 2013 Whitbread became the first company to receive triple certification to the Carbon Trust Standard for reducing carbon, water and waste and has achieved triple recertification for continuous improvement.
What are the biggest sustainability challenges you are facing at Whitbread today?
As a global hospitality business, waste, water and energy usage are key to reducing our environmental impact. Ensuring that every site adheres to our standards and that each team member is trained and engaged in what we are trying to achieve can be a big challenge. By creating a comprehensive energy and environmental strategy and working closely with partners such as the Carbon Trust, we have been able set ambitious targets and continue to make progress towards them.
What are the lessons you have learned from the Carbon Trust Standard recertification process?
Measuring and monitoring has always been important, but during the recertification process, this was a priority. In order to make progress, it’s important to understand what areas should be prioritised for improvement. Having the framework of the Carbon Trust Standard to work against was very useful for this.
Why did you decide to certify and then recertify to the Carbon Trust Standard?
Progress is crucial to us as a business. Achieving the Carbon Trust Standard was a great measure of our work in sustainability and helped us to improve our own strategy. But we didn’t want to become complacent - we had to maintain our standards and stretch our ambitions. The recertification of the Standard recognises our continued progress in reducing the environmental impact of our business.
As a hospitality business, how are you helping your guests to be more sustainable?
We want our guests and visitors to enjoy their stay with us. Whilst it’s important they remain conscious of their environmental impact, we don’t want them to worry about it. That’s why we’ve built sustainability into the fabric of our sites. Where feasible, greywater systems are installed at new build Premier Inns, saving an average of 30 litres of water per room per day. We have invested in a variety of energy efficiency measures including replacing 100,000 standard light bulbs with LED lamps. Of course, we encourage our guests to think about the environment when they are staying with us but wherever we can, we have made it as easy as possible for them to do so without compromising the quality of their stay.
How do you engage employees to help achieve your goals?
Whitbread Hotels and Restaurants team members have a substantial influence on how much energy our sites use, so it is absolutely vital that we engage them to give them the skills and knowledge they need tohelp us reduce our environmental impact. To engage site management teams, we have an energy reduction target on site scorecards which impacts their personal performance ratings each year. To incentivise our team members, we are running an “’Energy Challenge’” - a competition that gives small financial rewards to the teams that save the most energy each month through changing behaviours. Incentives like these, coupled with weekly reporting and performance tables we provide to every site, help to motivate our teams and give them the knowledge they need to make a difference. We are currently working on a new CSR communications strategy to further engage on site teams.
How are you having an influence on the environmental impact in your supply chain?
To improve sustainable practices in our supply chain, we’ve committed to the certification of our critical commodities - such as timber, cotton and coffee – against robust, accredited standards by 2020. Working with our suppliers is crucial, so we have collaborated with Credit360 to monitor and measure our supply chain.
This system assesses our suppliers against our robust standards and identifies areas for improvement. We then work with our suppliers to make long lasting changes. For example, we’ve been working with one of the world’s largest vegetable oil manufacturers, to develop a sustainable Palm Oil Policy that reduces environmental risks in the supply chain.
We are currently building on this programme to include environmental impacts such as climate change and the use of natural resources into this model. We hope to use this system to highlight best practice in our supply chain and share ways for all of our supply chain to improve their environmental performance.
What are you personally proudest of achieving in your career in sustainability?
Reducing the energy intensity of existing buildings through investment in efficient technology has been a continued and rewarding theme throughout my career. This has been across a range of technology and applications. Delivering measurable reductions in energy use, reduced emissions and great returns on capital invested is always satisfying and makes me proud to work in the sustainability business.
Looking ten years into the future, what do you think Whitbread will have achieved in sustainability?
We are already a business that works hard to reduce our impact on the environment and we implement many sustainable practices across the board.
I believe Whitbread will have achieved a rounded improvement in sustainability through delivering against its energy, water and waste targets. This will be achieved by reductions in energy intensity, programmes of sustainable development, water efficiency measures, renewable energy generation and smarter operations. I believe that technology, data and employee engagement will be at the heart of this achievement.