South Bank icon serves up a tasty sustainability message


This iconic The Ship Inn Hotel, constructed in 1864, has 25 staff members working across their café and bar and the owners have recently bought another restaurant at South Bank called The Shore which will also incorporate sustainable practices.

They have 3 key drivers across the business:

  1. to improve their brand and product
  2. to achieve savings and
  3. to become the leading hospitality venue in sustainability.


2.5 years ago The Ship Inn was just a regular pub and, like most pubs, was notoriously wasteful and sustainability hadn't crossed their mind until their functions and events team recognised that customers were looking for venues that had a sustainability focus and sourced their produce locally. 

Due to this customer demand The Ship Inn has adopted a new approach to their catering services which has seen business increase in the functions and events area as well as the restaurant.  

Enthusiasm towards their sustainability journey has gone a long way in the past 2.5 years and has proven important in their operations. The Ship Inn's objectives, what they are doing and why they are committed to sustainability being at the forefront of their strategic thinking is widely promoted with their commitment displayed in the restaurant and on the front page of their menu. 

Case Study Snapshot - Measures implemented

Lighting upgrade

With operating budgets not extending to huge capital outlay The Ship Inn were able to undertake a lighting upgrade within the existing budget, taking into account likely payback periods. They replaced their 50w halogen spotlights with 3.5w LED equivalents throughout the bar, replaced fluoro tube lights with low watt LED tubes throughout the kitchen and office and removed atmospheric fluoro lighting throughout bar and replaced it with low watt LED rope lighting. However the biggest reduction was managed through training staff to switch off lights and appliances when not required.

$ saved

The sustainable practices implemented by The Ship Inn resulted in efficiency savings of 21% on their energy bill!

Major achievement

The sustainable practices implemented and outcomes measured by The Ship Inn during 2011 and 2012 have resulted in efficiency savings of $10,795 per year. Much of these savings have resulted from minor changes to equipment or simple behaviour changes impacting the way they use electricity and gas with additional effort applied to other sustainable practices such as waste and water. 

Key outcomes

  • Energy savings - 181,474 MJ or 21%
  • GHG emissions savings - 52.4 t CO2-e or 21%
  • Waste reduction - 53m3 or 27%
  • Potable water savings - 6.8 kL or 7%
  • Avoided costs efficiency savings - $10,795 per year

Small investment, big return

The biggest reduction in energy use for The Ship Inn was achieved by training staff to simply switch off the lights and appliances where possible when they were not being used. For example, the cleaner was arriving at 6am every day and turning on every light throughout the pub, which would then remain on until the end of the night at around 10.30pm, 7 days a week. As he worked alone and after hours, it was only by chance that an early start by the manager realised that this offered a huge opportunity for savings without any financial outlay. Following some training for the cleaner, he now turns on the lights when he enters the section he is cleaning and then switches off again once he is done.

The Ship Inn also used to turn on the lights when the doors opened for business, no matter how bright the day was. Staff now keep the majority of the lights off in the bar until the early evening when the sun starts to lower preferring to take advantage of the natural light. Once dinner has ended for the night and the restaurant is cleared, the lights go off again.

Sounds obvious doesn't it, but how many of these 'obvious' opportunities are you missing on?

"I have a huge sense of achievement from this whole experience. I am most proud of our energy savings, as we have been rewarded with some significant reductions with minimal effort - mostly through education and awareness."

Ellie James, Manager

Staff engagement, industry recognition

The Ship Inn's employees have embraced the sustainability message over the last few years and have made further changes that reduce the impact the business has on the environment and improves their own well-being. For example, 90% of staff now use public transport or ride bicycles to get to and from work.


  • The Ship Inn has saved money on their energy costs from day one and will continue to enjoy annual savings from these initiatives. They are now looking at making further energy saving measures with more upgrades to their lighting and there is a possibility of looking into outdoor heating alternatives.
  • The Ship Inn has enjoyed increased patronage and repeat visits from clients attracted by their commitment to sustainability. They have made marked improvements to the quality of their product and now enjoy an improved sense of pride in their staff.
  • The Ship Inn is now seeing the results of being a sustainable brand integrity, able to demonstrate that they have acted on their sustainability commitment and their promotion of their brand and organisation as a great community role model. They genuinely aspire to improve wherever they see an opportunity, one step at a time.

Visit The Ship Inn's website: