Hotels and Airlines Invest in Green Travel

EcoskiesBoth Starwood Hotels and Resorts and United Airlines recently announced that their companies are making significant changes aimed at going green, and investing in developing new ways to reduce their carbon footprint. 

Starwood says its main focus is reducing the company’s negative environmental impact while still saving money and “enhancing the guest experience.” The company reports it has reduced energy use by 12.08 percent, carbon emissions by 16.07 percent and water use by 17.26 percent across all owned, managed and franchised properties from 2008 through 2014. Starwood attributes the reductions to its “30/20 by 20” environmental plan, which was launched in 2009. The target was to cut energy use by 30 percent and water use by 20 percent by 2020 globally. In 2013, Starwood added an objective to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent during the same time frame. 

Starwood, in collaboration with its properties, made the reduction by using low-cost, foundational initiatives such as installing high-efficiency LED lighting, low-flow fixtures and faucets, and enhancing or replacing mechanical systems. Other changes being made to properties include installing motion sensors, recycling soapy water and using rainwater collection.


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In most properties these efforts account for approximately one-third of the progress towards 30/20 by 20 goals. The company projects it will lead to a savings of $1 billion across the portfolio in less than 10 years. 


United Airlines is also taking long strides towards “going green,” by investing in alternative fuel. The company just announced that it has purchased a stake in Fulcrum BioEnergy with a $30 million investment, the single largest investment by a U.S. airline in alternative fuels. The purchase gives the airline the opportunity to purchase at least 90 million gallons of sustainable biofuel a year. 

Fulcrum BioEnergy specializes in the development and commercialization of converting municipal solid waste (household trash) into low-cost renewable jet fuel.

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United’s agreement with Fulcrum is expected to decrease the airline’s carbon footprint while also diverting waste from landfills and creating new jobs in communities where new facilities are located. The U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy have also supported Fulcrum BioEnergy for the future production of fuel that meets military specifications.

In addition to the initial investment, United and Fulcrum are also discussing the joint development of up to five projects located near United’s hubs. The companies predict these projects have the potential to produce up to 180 million gallons of fuel per year. 

United Airlines has been making investments in the advancement of sustainable jet biofuel since 2009, making history as the first North American carrier to perform a two-engine aircraft demonstration flight using sustainable biofuels. Most recently the airline received the 2015 World Bio Markets (WBM) Award for Excellence in Advanced Biofuels.