Michael Chang, director of energy and sustainability at Host Hotels & Resorts, Inc. (NYSE: HST), participated in a video interview at Nareit’s ESG Forum 2019 at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point in Bonita Springs, Florida.
As a lodging REIT, one of the biggest challenges Host faces when it comes to implementing and executing effective environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices is its ownership structure, Chang explained. Host owns hotel properties but is prohibited from operating them. That limits the type of investments Host can make around ESG, he said.
Other challenges Host faces is the ability to scale projects when individual properties are all unique, Chang said.
With many of the easier ESG projects now complete, Host has launched a return on investment (ROI) diagnostic tool to assess opportunities across the portfolio. Chang said this will enable Host to target ROI in specific areas based on utility rates, available incentives, and the energy and water intensity of the hotel itself.
Meanwhile, Host is also focusing on its supply chain and the environmental impact of its procurement procedures, Chang said. He noted that focusing on the supply chain provides an opportunity for Host to maintain its leadership in ESG matters.
Chang also discussed Host’s pilot projects focusing on big data and artificial intelligence. “We’ve had mixed results,” he said. While there have been many promises around increased efficiency and automation, “it still requires a high level of human interaction,” he said.