More and more hotel guests today are concerned about the environment and the future of planet Earth. That’s why hospitality companies must signal to their guests that they are focused on sustainability. A key — and very visible way — to do this is through the furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E) they purchase and use in their properties.

This guide explains everything you need to know to furnish your properties in the most sustainable way possible.

1. Begin with a Life-Cycle Assessment

Designers — and their FF&E procurement companies — should use life cycle assessments to evaluate the environmental impacts of the furniture, fixtures, and equipment they select through its entire life cycle from the raw materials used through to processing, production, transport, use, and disposal.

If you’re not confident about conducting a life-cycle assessment, the experts at The Stroud Group can help guide you. A relatively small investment in an audit will give you the proof your guests expect to know for certain that you’ve done your due diligence to make your properties as environmentally friendly as possible.

2. Select Eco-Friendly Materials

Toxic chemicals are often used in furnishings to treat fabrics and finish woodwork.

The issue: The chemicals are released into the environment, making the atmosphere toxic, which can cause harm to the planet and negatively impact people’s health. Another complication is hotel rooms are typically small and poorly ventilated, especially in older properties. This can concentrate the effects of the chemicals.

Requiring the use of eco-friendly materials creates a safe atmosphere for guests AND employees and helps protect the planet.

Some standard eco-friendly furnishing options to look out for include:

  • Organic fabrics
  • Bamboo
  • Unfinished and untreated wood
  • Wood from fast-growing trees that are easier to replace
  • Reclaimed materials
  • Recycled wood, metal, and plastic
  • FSC-certified wood and adhesives.

Also, choosing domestic products will reduce — or eliminate — harmful chemicals. That’s because of the stricter manufacturing regulations in the United States.

Choosing U.S.-based production resources also reduces carbon footprint because it limits the amount of transit required — and related emissions — that can significantly harm the environment.

3. Require Sustainable Processes

How FF&E is manufactured significantly impacts whether your hotel is sustainable or not.

Many processes require vast amounts of energy, along with producing pollutants that can completely negate your company’s other efforts toward sustainability. The good news is that there are better alternatives available.

Look for manufacturers that:

  • Fully recycle scraps, sawdust, and cardboard
  • use stains and other finishes free of formaldehyde
  • Depend on hydroelectricity or other low-impact energy sources.

If you don’t feel confident evaluating FF&E manufacturers, the experts at The Stroud Group are always available to help guide you to the most environmentally conscious ones.

4. Paints and Finishes

Similar to fabrics, paints and finishes are often toxic. Sustainable paints and finishes exist that are made with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are harmful and are known to damage the eyes, lungs, brain, and even developmental and reproductive systems, especially at high concentrations.

Choose items with paints and finishes with minimal VOCs to protect air quality in guest and other rooms, making the lodging experience more comfortable, and to protect the health of hotel guests and workers.

5. Place Your Hotel FF&E in an Eco-Friendly Environment

Even if you purchase the most sustainable hotel furnishings, you won’t convince guests of your hospitality company’s commitment to eco-friendliness if every part of your property doesn’t contribute to it.

Windows, walls, flooring, doors, and other building components impact energy use in lodging properties, as well as the processes used in creating them and in construction.

Heat waste results from inefficient surroundings. Energy-efficient windows provide insulation and can help improve air quality.

Bamboo, recycled wood, and sustainable wood are all eco-friendly flooring options, as are carpets made from recycled and natural materials.

Sustainable Hotel FF&E: The Bottom Line

Choosing sustainable furnishings and designing eco-friendly lodgings is good for the environment and can earn you more business from people who care about the planet. It also creates a healthier environment for hotel guests and staff and potentially lower operating costs because sustainable materials are typically easier to maintain and last longer.

An investment in sustainable FF&E, leveraging the five tips in this guide, could pay off in a big way in guest and employee satisfaction, as well as in new customers and repeat visits.