Homesharing With AIRBNB: Greener Than Your Usual Hotel

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airbnb shelters visitors to New York (airbnb)

Andrew Simon of Grist describes Airbnb, a five-year-old vaca-homeshare business from San Francisco along the lines of the carshare program Lyft, as “the growing vacation-rental juggernaut.”

The company calls itself “a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world–online or from a mobile phone.” It boasts space available all the way from single city rooms to medieval castles. Among other notable sources, Katie Couric of “Katie” and Tom Friedman of The New York Times covered the company this year.

Grist reported briefly on an environmental study Airbnb conducted this year with Cleantech Group, the corporate strategists for sustainable growth and innovation sourcing. We thought you might like to see the actual stats, so here’s more on the survey and its results.

Airbnb shelters visitors to New York (airbnb)Researchers compared the environmental impact of stays at Airbnb properties with that of hotel stays, retrieving 8,000 survey responses from hosts and guests worldwide. They measured energy consumption, greenhouse gas emission, water uses, waste production, sustainability awareness, and chemical use at both types of locations. “To set the bar high,” the company reports in its blog, “residences were compared to some of the most sustainable and energy-efficient hotels.”

The research team found the upstart taking the prize in every category. Details of each follow. The results suggest that Airbnb’s new sustainable tourism mode successfully conserves precious resources as well as providing more people with memorable trips.Airbnb waste generation vs. hotels (Cleantech)Airbnb water use vs. hotels (Cleantech)Airbnb greenhouse gas emissions vs. hotels (Cleantech)

Airbnb energy use vs. hotels (Cleantech)

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2 thoughts on “Homesharing With AIRBNB: Greener Than Your Usual Hotel

  • Ok, I’m not going to rant on the whole sharing economy. It’s not what it’s being sold as. The sharing economy works as long as operating costs are cut as low as they can go. This would be labor cost, safety regulations, taxes, and whatnot.

    The AirBNB study was done by an Airbnb contracted consulting firm. The premise of the study was to show the environmental benefits of AirBNB. This is also called greenwashing. AirBNB has not released the details of the study. Every study is based on caveats and assumptions. Those things become boundary conditions for every spreadsheet column and equation used. No one has seen any level of detail beyond press releases. AirBNB is attempting to use green issues like carbon footprints and sustainability to circumvent paying taxes and keeping its operating costs as low as possible. Taxes necessary to pay for environmental controls and cleanup and labor necessary to maintain a healthy middle class. These sustainability and carbon footprint studies are done all the time and are expensive. The only ones who can pay for them are either incumbent industries, heavily endowed environmental groups like NRDC and EDF, and Silicon Valley startups heavily funded with ever-flowing VC dollars. Dollars that should be going to the nuts and bolts to improve clean technology. Not apps to make a few rich and a lot stuck evermore in the lower middle class.

    The entire purpose of the disruption movement is to skirt regulation and put as much money into the hands of owners and venture capitalists. Some regulations are cumbersome. Some are in place to benefit incumbent industries. Most regulations are the result of something bad happening that was unforeseen upon the outside of a venture. For instance, an atmosphere thick as soup spurred the Clean Air Act. A river in Cleveland catching fire spurred the clean water act. A housing complex on top of a spent solvents dump in Love Canal, New York spurred Superfund. Regulations benefit society. If written well, regulations can benefit everyone rich and poor.

    Disruption of regulations has its origin in the oil and gas patch. Hydraulic fracturing with no federal oversight and minimal state oversight was deployed so rapidly over the past 10 years, because the Bush Administration allowed oil and gas companies to bypass federal regulations like the clean air act, clean water act, resource conservation and recovery act (RCRA) and the comprehensive environmental response compensation liability and recovery act (CERCLA). This is a perfect example of what our friends in Silicon Valley call “disruption.” And more interestingly, the GOP and Tea party libertarians are successfully courting Silicon Valley libertarians in their anti regulation movement.

    The only reason there isn’t more coal being burned and more SUVs getting 12 miles per gallon driving on the road is because of regulation and the concerns centered around climate change. Sadly, the push for a natural gas economy (and hydrogen) is done using both environmentalist nonprofits called “Big Green” to stir up fears of climate change and libertarian anti regulation folks. It’s a one/two punch. Put it more succinctly, there wouldn’t be a clean technology economy if there wasn’t, in place, 45 years of environmental regulation, governmental research on climate change, and a peoples genuine concern about the environment via 45 years of environmental studies in public education. In a fully disrupted libertarian dystopia, we would be burning a lot more coal. And clean technology would never have passed the bench study stage of development. And never seen the light of day of commercialization.

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