West London’s net-zero Room2 ‘hometel’ says it’s achieved a hotel first—complete sustainability and a commitment to keep going.
Hotels around the world have been steadily increasing sustainability efforts in recent years. Travel slowdowns during Covid provided room for chains and boutique hotels alike to re-evaluate practices and increase commitments. Mobile hotels are even on the rise. Last year also saw the first effort for industry-wide unified sustainability standards, still to be defined. But in the West London neighborhood of Chiswick, Room2’s “hometel” may make for a new benchmark.
Room2’s sustainability commitments are noteworthy. It is the first hotel in the world to fully account for its entire carbon footprint. The hotel signed the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism, prioritizing its climate action.
The hotel says all emissions including those generated during construction, along with daily operations, maintenance, and even the building’s eventual decommissioning will all be offset to net-zero.
The hotel, which opened last month, says it expects to reduce energy use by 89 percent compared with typical hotels. The building includes solar panels to help offset its energy consumption. It converts 100 percent of energy for heating, cooling, and hot water. Room2 says it also collects data on its water and energy use to help make adjustments to its practices.
The hotel’s roof includes a wildflower garden to support local pollinators and wildlife—200 tons of soil and wildflowers are intended to increase biodiversity and absorb CO2. The roof also features 75,000 bees in its beehives and “bug hotels” for garden-friendly insects. The roof also discharges up to 50,000 liters of rainwater, which helps reduce localized flooding in the area.
The brainchild of hotelier Robert Godwin, Room2’s aim is ambitious, but one it intends on achieving, no matter how difficult.
“As you would imagine, creating the world’s first fully net-zero hometel was no mean feat,” Godwin told CEO Magazine recently. “A building that includes a 200-metre-deep ground source heat pump, solar panels, runs on 100 percent renewable energy and uses electricity only (no fossil fuels) doesn’t come without its challenges.”
“It took a team effort to achieve [Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method] certification and operate at 89 percent more energy-efficient than the average UK hotel. Having purchased the site in 2014, it has taken multiple rounds of planning and pushback from locals to get to where we are today, but it’s all been worthwhile.”
Godwin took also inspiration from a family holiday to South Africa, where he says he saw he saw firsthand the impact climate change was having on the region—from the environment to the communities, to the animals.
“I started to immediately explore more around climate change and how our business could make a positive impact,” Godwin says. “There was no one in our sector globally to look up to, who was fully accounting for their greenhouse emissions, and I remain surprised about this. So we set about creating and publishing a detailed road map for our group of companies to achieve net-zero by 2030 using science-based targets.”
Godwin says many hotels claim to be sustainable but are often not doing as much as they could be, “whether that’s the products used or supply chain through to the operational methods,” Godwin explains. “I appreciate that not every hotel can retrofit installations such as heat pumps and solar panels, but they can change their operational carbon impact. Eco swaps could include sending zero waste to landfill, buying renewable energy, using sustainable suppliers, and offsetting.”
Godwin and his team also took inspiration from Chiswick’s artisan heritage of the 19th century, where quality and craftsmanship were prioritized over mass production. Room2 incorporates local artisans into the designs, including wallpaper, mirrors, fabrics, and furniture—the furniture was all made within ten miles of the hotel, and includes recycled materials and FSC-certified wood.
Rooms at the ‘hometel’ are outfitted with kitchenettes for long-term stays, but there’s sustainability in mind, too, by encouraging guests to bring their own food instead of waste-intensive take-out. But there is food on site and the café features locally sourced organic food, coffee, and wine.
The kitchenettes come equipped with bins that encourage guests to separate not just recyclables, but also food waste. It’s the first UK hotel with a zero-waste policy and the first to introduce food waste bins in rooms. When the hotel couldn’t find bins for its needs, it had them custom designed.
The building relies on energy-efficient lighting and appliances. Carpets are made from recycled fishing nets. Showers are ultra-low flow, reducing water usage by 40 percent. The bath care products are sustainable, too, from local vegan brand, Doers of London.
Room2 is taking responsibility as a business in the age of climate change and as consumers pivot to put more support behind sustainable companies.
But for Godwin it’s also quite personal.
“As a millennial, I am one of many who have grown up with a greater respect and appreciation for our planet,” he says, “and so I have chosen not to contradict my values while growing this business, in order to look back and know I did my bit.”