Whitbread - Costa Eco-Pod and Hub, by Premier Inn

The Asda Environmental Leadership Award, Winner, 2016

Hospitality company Whitbread is tackling climate change and making savings through two new environmentally friendly building projects, the Costa Eco-Pod and the Hub hotel, from Premier Inn.

What the judges said

  • Whitbread has demonstrated exceptional leadership and dedication to address environmental challenges with a clear business case.
  • Whitbread’s innovative approach to smart growth is clearly leading to commercial benefits and the potential scale of impact is enormous as it influences the wider retail industry.
  • Within a hugely competitive market, Whitbread has sustainability as its USP. This is clearly creating value and guaranteeing the future prosperity of the business

Good for the environment and for business

  • Whitbread's Hub hotel by Premier Inn has achieved 40% less water usage and 30% less energy usage than building regulations require, and 100% renewable energy supplies the site.
  • Zero-energy Costa coffee shops are capable of achieving neutral energy consumption, creating as much renewable energy on site as they consume.
  • Insights from the Costa Eco-Pod and Hub by Premier Inn can now be applied across all of Whitbread's properties.
  • Engaging hotel customers in environmental efficiency at Hub supports brand loyalty and delivers a better hotel experience.

Eco-Pod, Costa

Costa’s fastest growing market segment is in retail parks and ‘drive thru’, but many of their coffee shops and kiosks are are not energy efficient. Whitbread launched a competition to design a new building with a smaller environmental footprint.

The Eco-Pod's numerous green design features include an exposed frame of glulam timber (a renewable resource) with super insulation, natural ventilation, photovoltaic panels on the roof and a rainwater harvesting system which contributes 70% of Costa’s water usage.

The Hub, Premier Inn 

Whitbread set out to design a new kind of city hotel, prioritising affordability, technology and sustainability. The Hub uses:

  • 100% renewable certified energy supplied from the grid.

  • High efficiency LED lighting.

  • Presence detection in guest’s rooms controls lighting and air conditioning.

  • 80m2 bio diverse green roof.

A zero-energy Costa coffee shop can create as much renewable energy on site as it consumes, while Hub by Premier Inn has achieved 40% less water usage and 30% less energy usage than building regulations require. Hub has 25% lower build and operating costs compared to a Central London Premier Inn, and the Eco-Pod has also delivered significant energy savings.

Engaging staff in saving energy

Whitbread works to engage employees in its drive for an environmentally friendly business. For example 'Good Together' environmental guidance packs are issued to every management team, and mandatory e-learning improves staff environmental awareness. During 2015/6 the Corporate Social Responsibility team ran an Environmental Challenge to reward sites that saved most energy.

Collaborative design 

Achieving a low carbon economy in retail is challenging, particularly when the tenant does not own the building. In the case of the Costa Eco-Pod, collaboration was the answer. The Eco-Pod was originally proposed by development company Projex, with a design based on architect Emission Zero’s Greenpower building in West Sussex. Costa and their landlord Hammersons used detailed simulation analysis with studies of tenant energy demands and internal heat gains to ensure that renewable energy generation would provide enough energy to cover heat and lighting.

Working with community and customer stakeholders

From the outset Eco-Pod created dedicated community spaces to be used by local people and held an opening reception to engage customers and residents. Team members support local charities and schools, providing pupils with work experience and insight into environmental building design. At Hub in Covent Garden 50% of team members are recruited from local ‘NEET’ communities, creating new employment opportunities.

Whitbread views its sustainability strategy as an opportunity, not a compliance exercise. In 2015 the company achieved triple re-certification to the Carbon Trust Standard for carbon, water and waste reduction – a world first. 

What the Chair of the Judging panel said:

“This is clearly a business that it is ensuring it is fit for the future, demonstrating true environmental leadership by collaborating with key stakeholders and sharing best practice to influence the wider business community to take action.” - Karen Todd, Senior Manager Zero Waste, ASDA Stores Ltd

What Whitbread's CEO said:

“Whitbread’s challenge is to ensure that, as we grow, we manage our carbon footprint, minimising our energy usage, water consumption and production of waste. Aiming to be a leader in developing sustainable business practices we are proud to be the first hospitality company in the world to be recertified for the Carbon Trust Standard Triple Award. We are investing millions of pounds in technologies and operational innovations to limit our environmental footprint. The two initiatives highlighted in this submission are environmental exemplars, which reinforce Whitbread’s brand promise, drive economic growth, paint a compelling commercial case for green solutions and inform our future developments.” -  Alison Brittain, CEO, Whitbread PLC