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At Energy-Minded U.S. Hotels, They’ll Turn the Lights Off for You

Tara Hughes May 13, 2016 Distinguished Programs No comments

Two female employees at hotel reception desk -smallAt the Palazzo Navona, a boutique hotel named for the famous piazza here, guests must place a room key into a slot on the wall to activate the lights and temperature control system in their rooms.

The Palazzo’s use of the key card device is not unusual in Europe or in other parts of the world, like Asia. Even in countries like Norway where electricity is relatively inexpensive, many hotels use them to reduce energy costs.

American hotels have long resisted key cards or other energy-saving systems. Energy was cheap, and hoteliers feared that guests, who routinely left their rooms with the lights and air-conditioner on, would see any check on their energy use as an inconvenience.

But the aversion of hoteliers in the United States is slowly shifting as Americans have become more energy conscious and more states and municipalities have adopted rigorous building codes for energy use.

Read More at the New York Times

Earth Month Spotlight: Cultural Institutions

Tara Hughes April 29, 2016 Distinguished Programs No comments
Photo courtesy of asla.org

Photo courtesy of asla.org

Earth Day has come and gone, but we aren’t quite finished with our Earth Month coverage. For our last segment, we look at how cultural institutions are trying to embrace sustainability despite considerable challenges.

Museums, especially art museums, tend to have very demanding and precise requirements for temperature and humidity control, making certain sustainability practices, and LEED certification, difficult. Some are taking strides, however, to show that it can be done: Museums can go green.
When the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) was to be relocated, the museum board opted to create a museum that was not only beautiful, but sustainable as well. GRAM reopened in late 2007 as the world’s first LEED Gold certified museum. Its climate control system includes a high-efficiency HVAC system that features an “energy recovery wheel”: As warm air is cycled outside, heat and humidity are transferred to incoming air, regulating temperature.

The museum makes strategic use of large windows and top-lantern skylights to garner 70 percent of its light from natural sources, as well as to connect the art to surrounding urban life. An on-site rain and greywater reuse system and water-efficient fixtures help to reduce water consumption by 20 percent.

The California Academy of Sciences is the world’s first LEED Double Platinum museum, and the largest Double Platinum building in the world. The museum approached sustainability from the beginning, recycling 90 percent of demolition materials from the 12 buildings that previously stood at the site. Rather than using standard fiberglass insulation in the construction of the building, the academy opted for thick cotton batting made from recycled blue jeans—which actually holds heat and absorbs sound better. Floor-to-ceiling windows made with low iron content provide extra clarity and allow visitors to see Golden Gate Park from almost any point inside the museum.

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Earth Month Spotlight: Real Estate

Tara Hughes April 20, 2016 Distinguished Programs No comments

Earth3Earth Month continues with a look at the commercial real estate sector, where strides are being made in reducing the industry’s collective carbon footprint, particularly in Class-A office buildings in top-tier cities. Investors, developers, managers, and corporate tenants throughout the country have embraced the concept of sustainability—due in large part to the efforts of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and its Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, the standard by which all commercial space is measured.

The best sustainable architecture goes far beyond a few rooftop solar panels. Let’s take a look at three standard-setting buildings across the country.

The Bank of America Tower in New York City, which earned the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Core & Shell Platinum certification, has sustainability in its DNA. The building uses an onsite natural gas-fueled power plant to provide 70 percent of annual electrical power needs. In a process called cogeneration, waste heat from the power plant is used to make steam that powers chilling machines to cool the building and hot water for heating.

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Delight guests with sustainability and reap benefits

Tara Hughes April 18, 2016 Distinguished Programs No comments

Colorful garden and pathThe Green Edge By Dina Belon

If you look at sustainability from an operating savings perspective, you are overlooking its biggest value: Creating extraordinary moments with your guests.

Guests want individualized experiences, and a sustainability strategy is one of the best ways to create these customized experiences. Here are opportunities that hoteliers overlook every day:

Energy management systems

Energy management systems (EMS) are evaluated through return on investment from energy savings, and they easily pay back the investment in one to three years. What are you missing? Their biggest value: They give your guests an opportunity to feel good and individualize their experience. The EMS isn’t just an internal system – it’s an amenity and an opportunity to engage with your guests. Imagine the power of telling every guest that your property offers a system that allows them to fully customize their room comfort (and here’s the kicker) from their cell phone. They may or may not care that the EMS will reduce the carbon footprint of their travel, but they will love their customized experience. And, if they do care about carbon, then you can give them real-time feedback of their CO2 savings. If they don’t want to customize their room comfort, there are easy ways to set it to default settings and just save you money.

Read More at Hotelsmag.com

Earth Month Spotlight: Restaurants

Tara Hughes April 12, 2016 Distinguished Programs, Industry News No comments

restaurant 1Last week we took a look at hotels that were making major sustainability efforts to reduce their environmental impact. This week we will visit another important hospitality industry that is making major improvements in how they do business. Restaurants are quickly learning the importance of sustainability, from using local and seasonal produce to prioritizing waste management and energy efficiency.

These changes can produce a significant positive impact, not only on the environment but also on a restaurant’s bottom line and employee morale. According to dinegreen.com, 80 percent of Americans identify themselves as environmentally concerned. A dedicated sector of this group is driving a 20 percent annual growth in the $11 billion organic food industry—no small potatoes.

Printworks Bistro was the first restaurant in the United States to attain the LEED Platinum certification in 2008, incorporating energy-saving features such as variable speed hoods that set the power according to the kitchen’s needs and adjust to a lower level of operation (typically 25 percent of their full capacity). The hoods’ sensors also detect heat, smoke, or other effluents and increase the fan speed to keep the air fresh. The restaurant used salvaged, solid walnut trees that came down through sickness or storm to construct its bistro bar and uses room service trays (for the adjacent Proximity Hotel) made of bamboo plywood. To top it off, Printworks’ refrigeration equipment uses geothermal energy instead of a standard water-cooled system, saving significant amounts of water.

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Hotels wanted for new Cornell benchmarking study

Tara Hughes April 11, 2016 Distinguished Programs No comments

635845162709972093-1769207677_DSC_0004Hotels are being asked to participate in the third annual industry study of sustainability performance benchmarking of energy, water, and carbon emissions.

Last year eleven hotel companies – including Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Mandarin Oriental, Marriott, and Wyndham – supported the study with over 4,750 hotels globally. This year’s study will expand its global locations and segments, add hotel types to the benchmarking results, and further analyse the drivers of energy and water usage.

The more properties and chains that participate, the more detailed the data.

Maury Wolfe, Director of Corporate Responsibility, Environmental Sustainability, at IHG said, “We encourage more hotel owners and operators to join us in this industry effort. Collectively we’re able to fill the long-standing gap of providing accurate sustainability benchmarks to stakeholders across the hotel industry.”

Cornell Hotel Sustainability Benchmarking (CHSB) 2016 is an initiative of the Cornell University Center for Hospitality Research (CHR), Greenview, and an industry advisory group.

Participants in the study receive a confidential performance report that includes comparative benchmarking by market, a data validity test, and a carbon footprint generated through a unified calculation method. Data will be aggregated and analysed in the industry study, ready for publication in the spring of 2016.

Maxime Verstraete, Vice President of Sustainability & ADA Compliance at Hilton Worldwide said, “Participation in CHSB’s annual study allows us to vet all of the environmental data analysis we do through LightStay, our sustainability performance measurement platform.”

Any properties or hotel groups interested to participate in the study should contact Eric Ricaurte of Greenview at eer3@cornell.edu for further details.


See more at greenhotelier.org

Earth Month Spotlight: Hotels & Resorts

Tara Hughes April 6, 2016 Distinguished Programs No comments
Photo courtesy of h2hotel.com

Photo courtesy of h2hotel.com

In celebration of Earth Day, we are dedicating the month of April to sustainability awareness in the industries we touch. Each week, we are going to take a look at how businesses are making a positive impact on the environment through both design and human behaviors, starting with the hotel and resort industry.

But first, a primer on Earth Day itself:

The first Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970, and involved 20 million Americans protesting against the deterioration of the environment and led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and legislation such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act. Today Earth Day is celebrated by more than a billion people—the largest civic observance in the world! Last year, 192 countries participated in activities that aided the environmental movement.

The hotel industry has been a leader in green initiatives since the 1990s due to a number of significant motivators, including cost savings, regulatory compliance, consumer demand, customer loyalty, increased brand value…and, of course, doing the right thing.

Many hotels have helped green their properties by introducing water-saving techniques like reusable linen programs and installing water-efficient plumbing in bathrooms; installing energy-efficient lighting; and replacing high-waste products with recycled or reusable items. While these are great starting points, some hotels have taken their sustainability efforts to a whole new level.

The LEED Gold-certified H2hotel in Healdsburg, California, was built on the site of a former gas station. To make the land healthier, the property owners removed contaminated soil, restored the creek bed, and employed an erosion-control plan to minimize runoff. To reduce energy consumption, H2hotel installed solar panels to heat the pool and water in guest rooms and opted for energy-saving elevators that use 60 percent less electricity than standard elevators. On top of that, the elevators do not require oil to run, removing the risk of soil contamination and fire.


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Green practices to hit your sustainability goals

Tara Hughes March 16, 2016 Distinguished Programs No comments

Source: Hotelmanagement.net

inside washing machine macro shot

Sustainability has been on the minds of hoteliers for as long as it has affected hotel guests, but it wasn’t until the late 2000s that the switch to sustainable business practices was profitable enough for the idea to “tip” in the eyes of operators.

Ronald Lewis, associate brand manager at The Dial Corporation, a producer of personal care and cleaning products for hotels, said that hotels are more interested in sustainable products than ever before, with the majority of attention being paid to recyclable materials in the hotel guestroom and strategies to reduce water useage and the overall carbon footprint.

For Dial, the biggest shift has been in the reduction of packaging used in bar soap and bath-related products in the guestroom, which often contain scarce amounts of actual product but take up a sizable space in the hotel dumpster after a guest’s stay. Simple switches, such as eliminating plastic bags from packaging and switching to biodegradable materials such as cardboard boxes or recyclable goods are very attractive for hotels.

Read More at Hotelmanagement.net

Going Green Goes Mainstream

Tara Hughes March 9, 2016 Distinguished Programs, Industry News No comments
Photo courtesy of treehouse.co

Photo courtesy of treehouse.co

As consumers become more conscious of the environmental impact of their day-to-day lives, entrepreneurs are taking the opportunity to create new businesses and products that enable green living.

Annual green building construction spending in the U.S. is projected to increase 15 percent a year between 2015 to 2018, reaching $224.4 billion in 2018, according to The U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Building Economic Impact Study. Enter TreeHouse, a home-improvement startup in Austin, Texas, that sells eco-friendly construction materials and services. Every product in their store is scored based off of health, performance, corporate responsibility, and sustainability.

The company, which was founded in 2011, received $16 million from investors for expansion, starting with a second store in North Dallas in 2017 with plans for continued growth into new markets. They are currently scouting locations in California, Colorado and the Pacific Northwest.

TreeHouse is the first retailer that Tesla authorized to sell the Powerwall, its home battery that charges using electricity generated from solar panels. At night, when many utility rates increase because of the additional demand, the battery powers your home independently from the power grid. Homeowners can receive a net zero energy rating—meaning their home produces as much energy as it consumes.

A gym in Portland found another source of green power:

READ MORE at Distinguished.com