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Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz


Germany, Berlin

Description of the hotel

561 rooms, 16 conference rooms (part of SCANDIC group)


Become the greenest hotel in the city while staying competitive

Step by step (how they did it)

Scandic group became a leader in sustainability in the hotel sector way back in 1993 by introducing the idea of reusing towels. It did not rest on its laurels, but continued to develop its environmental portfolio.

What did Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz do to make it happen in terms of energy, water, chemicals and waste ?

TRAINED THE STAFF TO CHANGE THEIR PRACTICES: Regular environmental training, both in-house as well as online (the Scandic Business School) was provided to all staff at the hotel. Moreover, every team member can present ideas about sustainability and social engagement in a "green committee". Indeed, helping the staff to actively contribute to the environmental policy of the hotel is a great step forward.

Why does training staff contribute so significantly to the greening effort?

When the cleaning staff enters a room to clean, huge savings can be made. For instance, with small changes like only flushing toilets once or emptying the different bins into appropriate recycling containers, hotels can start to reduce their environmental footprint.

Correctly interpreting whether a client wanted to change his/her towels or not and switching the lights and the heater/cooler off between stays in the room can make significant cumulative gains in the long run. In addition, flushing the toilet only once per room cleaning can save up to 4000 litres of water per room per year (300 x 14L).

We have developed checklists for your staff to go through. They contain the most used green procedures to save water and energy in order to cumulatively aim for big gains. You can download them here.

EMPLOYED AN ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGER: Employing an environmental manager who regularly reports on waste, energy, water, or chemical use gives the hotel a “reference point” for whoever oversees the whole operation from the environmental perspective. The person who assumes this role detects e.g. where and when waste happens, and finds creative solutions to reduce the loss, mobilising the rest of the staff. In Scandic Hotels, there is a Director of Sustainability, to whom all hotels report on the use of water and energy. Each hotel sets its goals and writes them down in the sustainability declarations.

Why is it important to designate one person to monitor how much water and energy you use?

If you want to improve something, you first need to know where you stand. It is only through measuring activities that you can see your strong and weak points and evaluate the improvements you make. You need to know how close you are to current industry practices or to meeting established environmental benchmarks. This is best accomplished by centralising responsibility for an issue.

Scandic Hotel hired someone specifically dedicated to implementing a systemic check of many factors such as energy, waste or heating and cooling. Smaller hotels can appoint the most motivated employee to assure periodical check-ups in addition to his or her usual tasks. It can be anyone who is detail-oriented and has a green conscience.

Read the article on appointing someone on your team to track the efforts.

HELPED ITS GUESTS MAKE GREEN CHOICES: It is not enough for a hotel to operate on sustainable principles if its guests don’t join the efforts. Scandic has introduced a variety of options to make taking care of the environment as easy as possible for them.

  • Thanks to the new climate control system, guests can choose the temperature and in their rooms, and be directed towards greener settings.
  • Also, guests have access to Scandic bikes so that they can move around the city without using public transport.
  • Guest recycling bins are available in the hotel rooms to facilitate waste sorting

How to make your guests participate in your mission to protect the environment?

Installing custom lighting and demand-controlled ventilation systems can constitute a considerable investment for a hotel, and you may not be able to do it today. By starting on a smaller scale first - changing to LED lights, installing automatic switches for the lights in the corridors, and insulating windows – guests can see that options are available to reduce their carbon footprint.

Additionally, when given the simple possibility to contribute, guests usually are keen to follow the most environmentally-friendly path as long it’s easy for them to do so. By installing rubbish bins with separate divisions (for example: organic waste, recyclables, and other waste) you create an easy way for guests to join your efforts.

By leaving messages regarding the washing of towels and sheets in guests rooms, you can also nudge someone into doing something.

Download and print this free brochure to help your guests know how they can help you become more sustainable.

INTRODUCED MANY IDEAS TO REDUCE WASTE. Scandic is known for its various initiatives, from the most well-known (not washing towels every day) to the use of refillable soap dispensers and serving tap water in glass bottles. The hotel has also its own system to transform food waste into energy. All these things help minimise waste generated in the hotel and improve its management.

How small steps allow us to cover great distances

You may think that serving tap water in bottles from recycled glass does not bear any significant impact on the environment if you only have a limited number of guests. It is true that Scandic is a big group, but if we think about all the hotels and restaurants in Europe, it amounts to hectolitres of water and tons of plastic bottles.

Proposing soap in refillable dispensers can lead to significant saving and decrease the work of your staff but can also show your commitment to promoting specific products such as an organic locally produced soap.

Read our article showing easy steps towards sustainability.

STARTED A FOOD REVOLUTION IN THE KITCHEN. Scandic only offers healthy food sourced from responsible manufacturers. Chefs prepare seasonal menus to use local fresh produce and minimise the need to import food. But that’s not all – they also use energy-saving appliances.

It’s the food.

There are many elements to take into account when thinking about making your kitchen more sustainable:

  • The kitchen appliances
  • What chemicals are used in the kitchen
  • The sourcing of the food and the providers
  • What menu to offer
  • How kitchen waste is sorted

Renovating a restaurant kitchen has to be planned carefully, and can be a costly investment. Changing to more eco-friendly chemicals or food ingredients is a more immediate investment. Ask your suppliers about the origin of the products you buy and always be on the look-out for eco-labels and environmental standards; these responsible strategies cost almost nothing.

The best first step? Talk to your chef about including more sustainable dishes on the menu.

Read our article about using food as a marketing hook, and download a set of icons you can use in your menu.

Inspired by this case study and the achievements of Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz hotel? Look at the other sections of this website and specifically at the following Best Environmental Management Practices (BEMPs):

BEMPs are best practices to reduce environmental impacts in a given sector, identified based on the actions currently implemented by frontrunners in the field. They are described in detail so that you can find the information that is directly relevant to your case.