A new study released by Airbnb quantifies the environmental benefits of home-sharing for travelers, and finds that the company’s business model promotes a more efficient use of existing resources and is a more environmentally responsible way to travel: using Airbnb results in significant reductions in energy and water use, greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), and waste, and encourages more sustainable practices among both hosts and guests.
North American and European highlights from the study include:
- In one year, North American guests saved the equivalent of 270 Olympic-sized pools of water while European guests saved roughly 1,100 Olympic-sized pools’ worth of water.
- In one year, North American guests avoided GHGs equivalent to 33,000 cars on North American roads while European guests did the same for an equivalent of 200,000 cars.
- Nearly 83 percent of North American and 79 percent of European hosts report owning at least one energy-efficient appliance at their property.
- Less than half of the hosts surveyed in both North America and Europe provide single-use toiletry products for their guests, also reducing waste per stay.
- 94 percent of North American and European guests report that they recycle when possible.
- When staying at an Airbnb, North American and European guests are 10-15 percent more likely to use public transportation, walk or bicycle as their primary mode of transportation than if they had stayed at a hotel.
“We have always believed that the Airbnb community supports environmental sustainability around the world, and it's truly amazing to see that the impact is even bigger than we could have imagined," said Joe Gebbia, Chief Product Officer and co-founder of Airbnb. "In North America alone, Airbnb guests use 63 percent less energy than hotel guests — that's enough energy to power 19,000 homes for one year."
Conducted by the Cleantech Group (CTG), the study analyzed over 8,000 survey responses from hosts and guests worldwide (from February 2014 to April 2014) and conducted research on residential and hotel sustainability levels and practices. For the values presented in this study, CTG compared residences to the most sustainable and energy-efficient hotels. Data reflecting the top 5th percentile hotels (in terms of energy use) from an Energy Star report was compared to residential energy data for the 40-50th percentile of homes in North America. A similar approach was used in Europe.
“Resource sharing is rapidly growing across a number of sectors including hospitality, consumer goods, and transportation,” said Michael Ellis, EVP Advisory for CTG.
The sharing economy is definitely here to stay. A recent report, Sharing Is the New Buying: How to Win in the Collaborative Economy, maps its size and characteristics. The report found that 40 percent of 200 million American adults are already participating in the sharing of goods and/or services online and that the intent to share is on the rise.
A leader of the sharing economy, Airbnb was also in the news recently for its re-branding exercise with the launch of its new logo, website and mobile app. The company is even promoting its logo as a shared brand identity and allowing users to customize it. The logo itself received a mixed response from the public with opinions ranging from “pure genius” to those who compared it to genitalia.