Greenhouse Gas Emission Reporting Mechanism
for Hotel Industry: A Case of Sri Lanka
Lebunu Hewage Udara Willhelm Abeydeera1* and Gayani Karunasena2
1The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong
2Deakin University, Australia
Submission: July 05, 2019;; Published: July 25, 2019
*Corresponding author: Lebunu Hewage Udara Willhelm Abeydeera, PhD Student, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Hong Kong
How to cite this article: Lebunu Hewage Udara Willhelm Abeydeera, Gayani Karunasena. Greenhouse Gas Emission Reporting Mechanism for Hotel Industry: A Case of Sri Lanka. Int J Environ Sci Nat Res. 2019; 20(4): 556042. DOI:10.19080/IJESNR.2019.20.556042
Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions have been recognized as one of the most significant factors that affect the global climate change. Many researches have indicated that tourism sector has a high impact to the global GHG emissions. Number of organizations have introduced GHG emission reporting mechanisms that can be adhered to report the emissions. Reporting the GHG emissions (or calculating the carbon footprint) is recognized as the primary step of the GHG emission mitigation process. However, these reporting mechanisms do not have industry specific guidelines which is identified as a major drawback. Purpose of this study is to establish a GHG emission reporting mechanism for hotel industry with specific emphasis to Sri Lanka. Based on the Case study approach a qualitative analysis has been carried out in five of the five-star hotels located in the commercial capital of Sri Lanka. The outline derived for the emission reporting mechanism is the key finding of this study which can be used to develop a GHG emission reporting guideline for hotel industry.
Keywords: Hotels; Sri Lanka; GHG Emission; Reporting; Carbon
United Nations World Tourism Organization [UNWTO]  has reported that the international tourists have increased from 25 million to 1186 million during the period of 1950 and 2015. As a result, the economic impact of tourism industry has also increased remarking 9% of GDP of the world . According to the statistics of UNWTO  Sri Lanka has recorded the highest number of tourist arrivals in 2015 and the numbers have increased from 0.6 million to 1.7 million during the 2010-2015 period. Sri Lankan Tourism Development Authority [SLTDA]  has exclaimed that tourism industry will account for 3.7% of the total Sri Lankan GDP in 2024. Apart from the economy, culture, human life and climate have been affected either positively or negatively by the tourism industry. UNWTO (2011) has addressed climate change as the largest challenge that will be faced by the humankind in the 21st century and hotel industry has been recognized as a key contributor to the GHG emissions. Deng  indicates that the predicted amount of carbon emissions due to energy use in the hotel industry is significant and Ricaurte  and Joseph et al.  has indicated that due to the unavailability of a proper method to determine the carbon emissions from hotels, the facilities managers and other professionals have been unable to identify their contribution to GHG emissions. Therefore, the emissions caused by the hotels have gone unnoticed in most of the circumstances. Ricaurte  has further indicated that GHG emissions reporting as the initiative of a sustainable approach.
Therefore, it is evident that the hotel industry is in need of a proper GHG emission reporting mechanism that can be used universally.
Many of the global accommodation providers have initiated the process of recording their carbon emissions in different formats and has no widely adopted method . Dascalaki & Balaras  further exclaims that the need for uniform carbon footprint calculation of a hotel is paramount, yet it is not the only sustainability performance metric. As per Scheur, Keoleian & Reppe  Carbon footprint is also recognized as a required element for achieving sustainability. As a response to the requests made by the guests, stakeholders and investors many hotels have developed platforms to become sustainable .
In this context, it has become a necessity to provide a basis to implement specific guideline for hotel industry. Under these circumstances this research paper was focused on developing an outline to prepare a GHG emission reporting mechanism for hotel industry. Identification of globally recognized standards and practices used for GHG emission reporting, determining the awareness and current practices of GHG emission reporting in the Sri Lankan hotel sector and developing an outline for GHG emission reporting in Hotels were the three main objectives set to achieve the primary aim of this study. Initially, the paper discusses the current situation of GHG emissions and emission reporting in the global context. Then the paper focus on the
methodology, findings and finally a discussion on findings
is presented with the developed outline for reporting GHG
emissions in the hotels. The study was limited to large scaled
hotels in the commercial capital of Sri Lanka.
A comprehensive literature survey was carried out in order
to identify the existing practices of GHG emission reporting
around the world. This review signifies the importance of having
a proper GHG emission reporting method not only for the hotel
industry but also for many other industries as well.
World Resources Institute [WRI]  has indicated China,
United States, European Union, India, Russian Federation,
Japan and Canada as the leading GHG emitters. Majority of
these emissions were recorded from fossil fuel combustions,
gas flaring and cement manufacturing. According to IPCC 
tropical deforestations in Asia, Africa and South America have
also contributed to the GHG emissions in a higher scale. In order
to identify the impact of Greenhouse Gas emissions, it is essential
to recognize and differentiate the greenhouse gases and their
impacts. Furthermore, it is necessary to recognize the impact of
tourism industry towards GHG emissions. This section aims to
identify and discuss the above-mentioned aspects in detail.
Greenhouse Gases And Global Warming Potential (GWP)
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC]  has
listed down number of gases with a potential for global warming.
It is further stated in IPCC  that these gases have accounted
for nearly 77% of total global CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas
(GHG) emissions. IPCC  has declared the GWP indicator
which represents the GWPs of the major greenhouse gases.
Table 1 indicates these dominant gases and their global warming
potential in CO2 equivalent.
According to above Table 1 it is evident that several gases
have a high potential of global warming. Therefore, these gases
have been named as the greenhouse gases. Ramachandra, Aithal
and Sreejith  has indicated that the concentration of GHG
in the atmosphere has been continuously increasing due to the
anthropogenic activities performed. Thus, has resulted in an
increase of the global temperature which has been identified as
the global warming issue by Ramachandra, Aithal and Sreejith
Greenhouse gas emissions by industry
Indian Network for Climate Change Assessment [INCCA]
(2010)  has classified power generation (energy), industrial
and commercial activities, agricultural activities, activities
related to land use and land changes and waste handling as
the main sectors of GHG emission in the Indian context. US
Greenhouse gas inventory of US Environmental Protection
Agency [USEPA] (2015) has made a similar classification for
GHG emission sectors. EEA (2014) has also classified the
GHG emissions under the above categories and has added an
additional category, solvent and other product use.
IPCC  has indicated following six categories as the key
emission sources of greenhouse gases.
a) Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU)
IPCC  has recognized energy as the leading GHG emitting
sector while AFOLU has been reported as the second highest
greenhouse gas emitting sector. Buildings and transport sectors
have almost an identical level of GHG emissions. Comparison of
the sectorial GHG emission levels is available in Figure 1.
According to Figure 1 it is clear that electricity and heat
production has the highest impact on the global GHG emission
level. It is a combination of several elements such as energy,
industry, transport, buildings and AFOLU. Further it is evident
that the building sector accounts for the highest contribution in
electricity and heat production related emissions.
Greenhouse gas emissions of the tourism industry
Dubois & Ceron  has stated that tourism accounts for
4-10% of global GHG emissions annually. Above stats have been
confirmed by UNWTO  and has further indicated that in 2005
tourism accounted for almost 5% of the global GHG emissions.
IPCC  has indicated that the contribution of tourism sector
is rising continuously. Further it is stated in IPCC  that the
impact of tourism industry has been in the range of 3.9% to 6%
of the global emissions and has the potential to rise up to 130%
within the next two decades.
Transportation accounts for the highest portion of GHG
emissions in the tourism industry (UNWTO, 2014). It is further
explained in UNWTO (2014) that transport accounts for 75% of
the GHG emissions of the tourism sector in which 40% is from
aviation, 32% from road transport and the 3% from the other
forms of transportation. Furthermore UNWTO (2014) has stated
that accommodation sector has a contribution of 21% for the
tourism sector emissions.
When the accommodation sector is considered large hotels
had a higher impact to the emissions than guest houses, selfcatering
apartments or campgrounds. This is due to the extra
facilities in the large hotels such as restaurants, spas and
bars which consume more energy . Impact of the other
tourist activities depend on its relationship with the energy
consumption. Wang & Huang (2013) has indicated that energy
consumption of hotels is different to other building categories
and they further stated that the energy consumption of hotels
differs based on the geographical location which can result in
high GHG emissions. Taylor, Peacock, Banfill & Shao (2010) have
stated that the likeliness of hotel management to provide a high
level of comfort to the guests have resulted in high emissions
from the hotels. As a result, hotels have been recognized as a
high emission source in the non-domestic building category
(Taylor, Peacock, Banfill & Shao, 2010).
Kyoto Protocol addressed the requirement of having a
proper GHG reporting mechanism due to the need of mitigating
the hazard of increasing GHG emissions. Based on these
circumstances number of institutes have put forward guidelines
to be followed when reporting GHG emissions. These guidelines
include number of different processes and functions which are
required to be followed. Joshep, Yik & Man  has exclaimed
that there is no sufficient literature to analyze carbon emissions
of individual buildings. However, there are emission reporting
standards published by many organizations. Following
standards are recognized as some of the key standards related
to GHG emission reporting (Table 2).
As mentioned above, Ricaurte  has emphasized the fact
that there is no proper standard method for GHG emission
reporting for the hotels. Accordingly, key elements required for
GHG emission reporting were derived from the above indicated
standards. IPCC volume 1, part 1 of ISO 14064 , ISCC guideline
and the elements of GEF guideline were used to identify the key
elements required for emission reporting process in hotels.
When determining the operational aspects emission
reporting shall be done under the following three categories.
Direct: The emissions recorded through direct operations of
the hotel should be discussed under this section.
Energy Indirect: There are number of buildings associated
with the operations of a hotel (eg: main building, restaurants
etc.). Emissions from these buildings shall be recorded under
Other Indirect: All the indirect sources of emissions which
are not categorized under the above two scopes shall be included
under this category. E.g.: business travels of hotel employees,
employee commuting etc.
It is essential to follow up a sequential process when carrying
out the GHG emission reporting. If not key elements will be
missed in the data collection and evaluation process. Thus, will
result an outcome that has considerable variations from the
actual results. Key focus sectors of GHG emission reporting in
the hotels are presented in Table 3.
The research was carried out to solve a contemporary
issue, reduction of GHG emissions through proper reporting
mechanisms. On the other hand, the research had to be carried
out in a real-life context and required an in-depth analysis. Yin
 has stated that if the research problem is a contemporary
one which requires real life context data to be analysed in depth,
case study is the best approach for such research. Accordingly,
case study method has been used in this research.
As the case studies for the research, large hotels (Hotels
which have more than 250 rooms) were selected. Focus was on
the business capital of Sri Lanka and the hotels situated in that
region. Accordingly, the hotels located in the Colombo city were
selected for the study. All the hotels taken into the study belong
to the five-star category and are located right in the center of
the Colombo suburb. Following professionals (shown in Table 4)
of the selected hotels were interviewed for the data collection
Semi structured interviews were conducted for the data
collection purposes. Most common technique used for textual
data analysis is content analysis. Content analysis technic is
mostly used to analyze texts, interview data or newspapers .
Primary focus of the interviews was on identifying the availability
of GHG emission reporting mechanism. Content analysis was
used to identify this factor. The same approach was used to
measure the knowledge level of the respondents regarding the
GHG emission reporting and categories of emission recording.
Content analysis enabled the researcher to identify the key
sources of emissions within the hotel premises. The outline for
the proposed GHG emission reporting guideline was prepared
based on the information collected in the literature review as
well as the information collected through interviews.
Section-I of the semi structured interview was focused
on capturing the availability of a GHG Emission reporting
mechanism in the selected case studies.
Accordingly, it was found that two of the selected case
studies had partial mechanisms of reporting GHG emissions.
These hotels were reporting the energy related emissions as a
compulsory requirement of their hotel chains. Other three hotels
had no mechanism for emission reporting. H2, H3 and H5 were
three of the oldest hotels of Sri Lanka and one of these was also a part of a global hotel chain. Yet none of these case studies had
a proper reporting mechanism.
Accordingly, majority of the case studies did not have a
GHG reporting mechanism and none of them had a reporting
mechanism that covered all the areas of GHG Emissions.
In order to implement a GHG emission reporting mechanism
in a hotel, the professionals employed in that hotel should
be aware about the process. Therefore section 1 of the semi
structured interview was focused on this area. Awareness of
the employees were checked with related to the three key areas
in which the emissions are recorded. Figure 2 indicates the
awareness levels of the respondents about each of the emission
sectors. It was evident that majority of the respondents were
having a less awareness about the GHG emission process. Out of
the three sectors least awareness was on the Indirect Scope 2.
Awareness on direct emission was comparatively higher.
Section 2 of the interview was focused on gathering data
related to sources of direct emissions. The initial focus was
on the direct emissions sector. Operations of the hotels which
directly emit gases to the atmosphere comes under this category.
All the respondents indicated that direct emission sources
should comprise with the following sectors.
a) Emissions from Generator Operations.
b) Emissions from Boiler Operations.
c) Emissions from LP Gas usage.
d) Emissions from other fuel combusting operations
within the premises.
Second category of GHG emission reporting is indirect
emissions. Under this category emissions recorded from the
usage of purchased electricity will be taken into consideration.
Majority of the respondents were aware about this aspect and
two hotels were already recording emissions related to this
This is the third sector of emissions that is included in the
reporting process. Under this category all the emission impacts
which does not come under the above two sectors are taken
into consideration. Mainly the emissions occurring through
travel related activities (vehicles not owned by the company),
outsourced activities and waste disposal are recorded under this
Respondents indicated several areas to be added into this
section that would have a considerable impact to the emissions.
Following areas were indicated as key inclusions for these
a) Guest Travel
b) Guest Meals
c) Paper use
d) Waste disposal
e) Employee travel
According to the empirical findings it is evident that none
of the selected hotels had a complete GHG emission reporting
mechanism. Even though two hotels were practicing the
reporting mechanism, they were not fully aware about the
entire process. Neither had they practiced the process internally.
Empirical findings also indicated that the knowledge level of
the professionals regarding the GHG emission reporting and its
attributes are also low. Therefore, it is essential to take necessary
measures to improve the knowledge of the employees about the
process and its importance.
Based on the literature findings and the empirical findings
an outline has been developed. The process of GHG emission
reporting is a combination of different processes. It is essential
to follow these steps closely to implement a successful reporting
In order to establish a GHG emission reporting mechanism it
is essential to follow the general procedure indicated in Figure
3. GHG emissions of the hotel sector shall be recorded under
the sectors shown in Figure 4. These have been derived from
the empirical findings. It was identified through the literature
review that data related to GHG emissions shall be collected
under three main categories. It was further clarified through the
research findings and activities in the hotel can be categorized
under these three sectors. Research findings have enabled the
researcher to determine the specific operations that comes
under each sector .
Climate change has been recognized as one of the greatest
challenges of the 21st century. GHG emissions have a significant impact to the world climate change. Mitigating the emissions
have become a key challenge to the world. The main objective
of this research was to formulate the outline to develop a GHG
emission reporting mechanism for the Sri Lankan hotel industry.
Accordingly, the study was conducted among five of the five-star
hotels in the commercial capital of Sri Lanka and it was found
that none of the selected cases were having a complete GHG
emission reporting mechanism. Based on the literature findings
key elements required for GHG emission reporting in hotels
were identified and the collected data were used to measure the
emission levels of each hotel. Through this it was identified that
energy indirect sector had the most significant impact to the
total emissions of the hotels. It was also recognized that direct
emission data were recorded by two of the selected cases. The
study also confirmed the fact that no hotel had a proper in-house
GHG emission calculation process. Calculations further indicated
that the emissions of the hotels had a significant impact to the
total GHG emissions of the country.
It was also identified that the knowledge on GHG emission
reporting was comparatively low amongst the professionals of
the hotels. In order to reduce the emissions, it is necessary to
have a comprehensive knowledge about it. Therefore, researcher
recommends carrying out training programs and knowledge
sharing sessions on this topic to improve the knowledge of the
professionals involved in hotel operations.
Formulated outline for GHG emission reporting process
has identified several key elements. All these elements have
a significant impact to the outcome of the process. Industry
practitioners need to be aware about all these elements to
prepare an effective emission report.
GHG emission reporting has been recognized as one of the
key primary steps of initiating sustainability. With the rising
global temperatures, carbon footprint reduction also has become
a widely addressed aspect. Therefore, initiating a sustainability
concept in a key sector like hotels will have a significant impact
on the global carbon reduction effort. This study has provided
the initial impetus by identifying the key areas of GHG emission
reporting and thus developing a framework to initiate GHG
emission reporting in the Hotel sector. This can be used as a
primary tool to begin the emission reporting process within the
hotel sector and thereby develop a standard emission reporting
method that can be adopted to report emissions of hotels. This
study will be an ideal guidance for the professionals engaged in
the hotel industry to initiate the process of creating a greener
future through reduced environmental damage.
IPCC (2014) Summary for Policymakers. Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.