Tent or lyxury hotel?

Your choice of accommodation on your holiday matters. Not at all to the same extent as the transport mode you choose, but it is far from insignificant. The climate footprint of accommodation is affected primarily by whether the energy used by your accommodation is fossil-free or not, and the amount of energy used.

The climate impact from accomodation is divided into three categories: hotels, hostels etc, and finally climate neutral accommodation. For full information on how we have calculated the emissions from different accommodation options, see our Methodology Report.

The climate footprint of hotel accommodation comes mainly from the energy used to heat or cool the premises, as well as from the electricity used for lightning, machinery and laundry. The climate footprint per guest night (one night’s stay for one person) varies greatly from hotel to hotel.

It is easy to think that a large luxury hotel will automatically have a larger climate footprint per guest night, and that a smaller establishment, providing less fancy accommodation, automatically has a smaller climate footprint. But that is not always the case. Even if a hotel has a spa, gym, air-conditioning and a large communal areas, which means high energy consumption, the hotel can still have a low climate footprint if they use bio-based district heating or solar collectors, and produces its own solar power.

In countries with a high proportion of fossil-free energy, such as the Nordic countries, accommodation generally has a significantly lower climate footprint than in countries where energy is largely obtained from fossil sources. Many hotels are working hard to reduce their emissions and for them the real emissions are far below average. Ask the hotel where you plan to stay if they have calculated CO2 emissions per guest night.

This category refers to accommodation with a lower climate footprint than the average hotel in the country in question. It includes basic hotels, youth hostels, camping cabins or a whole house that you rent. However, it can also include a hotel that has invested in reducing its CO2 emissions, for example through the use of bioenergy or solar collectors for heating water and producing electricity.

This category of accommodation is anticipated to only cause negligible emissions. For example, if you stay with a friend, in a tent, or rent a room in a house. Overnight stays while travelling – on night trains, buses/coaches or ferries – are also included, as emissions for these are included in the transport mode calculation. 

In addition to the above, there are several other pleasant and climate friendly ways to stay with locals while traveling. You can make friends for life if you are lucky. Examples of some non-profit organizations:

Couchsurfing -  “Connects members to a global community of travelers. Use Couchsurfing to find a place to stay or share your home and hometown with travelers”.

Warmshowers - “A global community of touring cyclists”.

Servas - “Peace and understanding through travel and hosting”.

You can also offer accommodation to others who are travelling through these organizations.

If you know how many kilos of CO2 your planned accommodation emits per guest night, you can enter this figure in the calculator. If not, it’s a good idea to ask. More and more hotels and other forms of accommodation are investing in reducing their climate footprint, and if they find that customers are asking about carbon emissions, they may be encouraged to further reduce their emissions.