Airbnb shows environmental benefits of sharing economy, study finds

Guy Bentley
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Guests using home and room rental app Airbnb in Europe avoided greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 200,000 cars on the roads and were 10-15 per cent more likely to use public transport than if they stayed in a hotel, according to a survey conducted by Cleantech Group.

The study claims that travelling on Airbnb, which now operates in over 35,000 cities in 190 countries, results in "significant reduction in energy and water use, greenhouse gas emissions, and waste, and encourages more sustainable practices among both hosts and guests".

In Europe, Airbnb guests consumed 78 per cent less energy than hotel guests - equating to enough energy to power 68,000 homes for a year. "With an impact that big, it's clear that the Airbnb community is making a huge difference," said the company's chief product officer Joe Gebbia.

Cleantech Group analysed over 8,000 survey responses from hosts and guests worldwide between February 2014 to April 2014 and conducted research on residential and hotel sustainability levels and practices.

The results were welcomed by environmental leaders who were keen to embrace the potential of the sharing economy to achieve environmental goals.

"These findings suggest that Airbnb, by the very nature of its business, has raised the bar in sustainable tourism to a level that the conventional travel industry will find hard to beat,” said Jonathan Tourtellot, founding director of the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations.

On Tuesday, the San Francisco based company unveiled a new website aimed at attracting business travellers with more suitable accommodation. Currently business travellers only make up eight per cent of Airbnb bookings, according to the Wall Street Journal.

However, 30 companies, including Facebook and Eventbrite, have already signed up to its business portal.

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