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Day of Sustainability

Hamburg, 9 January 2023

The year 2023 started with an exciting event at the Empire Riverside Hotel: our first Sustainability Day.
With rousing workshops from our partners and a plenary session in which our plans, successes and challenges were presented transparently, we were able to give all participants something to take with them on their way to making the world a little bit better.

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After many months of planning, we were finally able to put our first Sustainability Day into action on 9 January.
In addition to almost 300 employees of our two hotels Empire Riverside Hotel and Hotel Hafen Hamburg in four sessions, we were also able to welcome 70 customers and partners in the evening.
Starting with a plenary session in our ballroom, in which hotel director Enrico Ungermann and two members of the internal sustainability project team reported on our path to becoming a more sustainable company, the participants were then able to take part in the workshops of our partners that they had previously selected.
Which workshops were offered, what we have to tell you about our path to sustainability and which challenges we have already had to face, we have summarised for you again below.

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Sustainability project team

At the beginning of 2022, we set up a project group that deals with the topic of sustainability at the Empire Riverside Hotel and the Hotel Hafen Hamburg, develops a project plan and works together to make our companies more sustainable.
Consisting of the departments Technology, Kitchen, Purchasing, Human Resources, Sales, Reservations, Marketing and Management, we have thus created a team that is composed of all relevant departments in order to be able to consider all pillars of sustainability and to be able to advise and act with the corresponding expertise.

In our first sustainability blog we have written a little more about our project plan, our first successes and ideas. Get an overview of the beginning of our project team "Sustainability for our hotels" here.

Brainstorm - what does it actually involve?

When drawing up our project plan, we were guided by the "Green Key" sustainability label for hotels and, in a long, extensive brainstorming phase, we worked out the topics that we would like to elaborate and work on at the beginning. Each of these main topics consists of hundreds of sub-topics, of which only a small fraction is shown in the mind map.

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Presentation slide with brainstorm on the topic of sustainability.

Successes already achieved

  • Own hotel bees to support biodiversity
  • Paper savings since digitalisation of many processes (over 6t/year saved)
  • Conversion to environmentally friendly printing
  • Charity concerts for the benefit of social projects
  • Company pension scheme
  • Sunday and public holiday surcharges

Electricity - Water - Waste

Through various changes we have made since 2019*, we have already been able to save a large amount of electricity, water and waste.

Some of these measures were:

- installation of water-saving showers and taps
- urinals without water
- kitchen appliances with reduced water consumption
- supplier agreement on packaging return
- reusable instead of disposable -> fewer portioned products
- energy-efficient light sources (75%)
- motion detectors in back office and public areas
- automatically controlled dust extraction bonnets

*We compare 2022 with 2019 because we can only draw a financial year with reliable data in the comparison from the period before the pandemic and lockdown.

  • Electricity savings compared to 2019

    Saved: 8.5% Corresponds to: Annual consumption of 73 households

  • Water savings compared to 2019

    Saved: 11.32% Equivalent to: 1.5 Olympic swimming pools

  • Waste savings compared to 2019

    Saved: 49.8% Equals: 4,197 beer barrels

Sustainability seal - the process of certification

One decision we made after our brainstorm within the sustainability team was to make ourselves measurable through a sustainability seal.

In our presentation at the Sustainability Day, we explained why we chose the sustainability seal for hotels "GreenSign", what the catalogue of criteria includes and what we were able to convince with.

You can view the certification process and our complete audit report here.

Not everything is realisable

Some of the projects we had on our project plan had to be discarded after we had checked them.
In our presentation, we talked transparently about the fact that, as much as we would like to, not everything is possible.

For example, the introduction of a sustainable conference package - here the demand on the part of the customers is missing, which is why other packages would continue to be booked preferentially, as many still do not see the higher price as justified.
In addition, it is hardly possible in the hotel industry to introduce a clear regulation for family-friendly working hours. Due to the constant operation of a hotel, shift work cannot be avoided. Of course, we try to find a suitable solution for each department - a generalisation is simply not possible.
Another challenge was the formulation of measurable sustainability goals. Since we are still at the very beginning, it is difficult for us to already determine whether it would be more worthwhile to save on gas or on electricity. Or in other areas? And what percentage is appropriate and feasible? We will ask ourselves all these questions within the next 12 months and aim to be able to present smart goals at the next Sustainability Day.

Presentation slide with challenges and hurdles

Where are we going?

Even though we have not yet been able to formulate any measurable goals, we still have one goal in mind.

We want to get better every day and take small steps to contribute to a more sustainable humanity.
Sustainability is not a trend that is "just being talked about". It should be our top priority at the moment and should be treated with the same priority in 12 months or 12 years as it has been in the past months.
We want to continue to support social projects such as oclean, Viva con Agua, Cafee mit Herz, offer a stage, collect donations and do good with them.
We want to offer all staff members more space and freedom for individuality and fill the word "equality" with life - we don't care where you come from, what you believe in or what you feel like.

Our Workshops

oclean Hamburg

The non-profit GmbH oclean was founded by the three Hamburg sisters Hannah, Lena and Marie in 2019 to stop just talking about sustainability and start taking action. The vision is: No more waste on Hamburg's streets and a greater awareness of circular economy and resource conservation. With colourful and modern communication, regular waste collection campaigns and workshops, we raise awareness among young and old and show that the unattractive topic of waste can be fun and must be approached creatively. Everyone is welcome and can join
join us. After all, everyone produces rubbish every day and more and more of it ends up on our streets and in the Elbe and Alster.

In the workshop there was:

  • an insight into our diverse work
  • an introduction to the topics of plastics, microplastics, waste separation and waste avoidance
  • background information on waste disposal and waste myths
  • knowledge transfer in a playful way and a common motivation to participate and get involved
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Viva con Agua

Viva con Agua is an international network of people and organisations working for clean drinking water. From the beginning, everything followed one vision: WATER FOR ALL. In the meantime, there are many thousands of people who volunteer for Viva con Agua. At numerous events, in football stadiums and concerts (e.g. at the Empire Riverside) you can see committed people raising awareness for the issue of water. Everyone can participate is the motto. In addition, the organisation collects donations digitally in order to implement its work. In the workshop, the following questions were answered

You would like to...

  • know what the global drinking water situation is like?
  • understand why your coffee consumption and your new laptop influence the water situation?
  • find out where individual water saving has an effect?
  • learn more about the projects in Uganda, Ethiopia, Mozambique and South Africa?
  • participate yourself?

and what does Viva con Agua actually have to do with hotels?!

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Bees play a key role in our global ecosystem. With their pollination services, they are elementary for biodiversity.
But bees need our help. In Europe alone, about 20% of bee colonies die every year.
While in 1950 there were still about 2.5 million bee colonies in Germany, today there are only about 950,000 - this means a decline by almost two thirds, the reasons for which are manifold.
A corporate bee project means visible environmental protection on site and active support for local biodiversity. PLACE4BEES was founded with the aim of strengthening modern and healthy beekeeping in the city and surrounding areas. We are a passionate team with a lot of expertise in beekeeping and we are united by our fascination for the world of bees and the desire to make beekeeping structurally strong enough to prepare a good future for our local honey bees.

The workshop was about:

  • The bee & its role in our global ecosystem.
  • A look inside the bee colony - fascinating facts and a first basic knowledge about beekeeping
  • Honey - how is it produced and what are the differences?
  • Urban Beekeeping - why urban beekeeping works so well
  • beesupporter - what can you actively do to support the bees?
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Zeit für Zukunft e.V.

Zeit für Zukunft - Mentoren für Kinder e.V. (Time for the Future - Mentors for Children) is a non-profit, voluntary mentoring programme for the individual support of children and young people aged 6 to 16 in Hamburg and the surrounding area.

Not all children have the same good starting conditions in life. It can help if there is someone outside of the home and school who can relate to them: someone with whom they can experience beautiful things, but also share their worries. That's what our mentors are there for. They are listeners, encouragers, friends and providers of opportunities.
The mentors of Time for the Future are also role models. That is why we assign a female mentor to girls and a male mentor to boys.
The so-called tandems of mentor (adult) and mentee (child) are long-term and last at least one year. Through the 1:1 relationships, we help the children to develop their potential. It has been proven that we increase their educational and participation opportunities, because these are unequally distributed in Germany. In the long term, our association thus promotes the cohesion of our society.

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Restricted area St. Pauli (Diakonie Hamburg)

The aid project "Sperrgebiet" is a shelter for girls and women who engage in poverty prostitution. The project has been around for more than 30 years. With us, the women and girls can find peace and safety. In addition, we offer them medical care, counselling and help. Our goal is to help women and girls in prostitution to develop perspectives for their future lives - also outside of prostitution.
Last year, 863 women sought help in the restricted area - and the trend is rising. Of these, 566 were younger than 30 and even more than 100 women were younger than 21. In order to be able to help as many women and girls in prostitution as possible, an important factor of our work is the so-called "outreach work". Street social workers contact women and girls in street prostitution and in prostitution centres to make them aware of our services and to support them with everyday problems.
In the workshop, a short tour of St. Pauli was made and they talked about it and answered questions about where the problems of girls and women on St. Pauli lie.

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Ada Matthes - sustainable innovations

What do fungi, algae, worms, artificial intelligences and our urine have in common? - They all have the potential to save our world! Find out why in our workshop.
In our everyday lives, we are constantly bombarded with the concept of sustainability. From the recycled shampoo bottle to the reusable coffee mug to the electric car - we buy products that promise to make the world a better place. But what is really sustainable and how do we find out where we are being tricked? Do we really have to look to the future with horror and what can we actively do so that our children can still enjoy our planet?
In this workshop, the questions of our time were dealt with together. Some crazy-sounding solution concepts and innovative ideas were presented that give hope again. Together we visualise a greener future!

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This is what our first sustainability day looked like

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