Avendra Outlines Sustainability Goals, Progress in New Online Document

by Glenn Hasek April 27, 2016 04:48

Late last year I reported on Avendra’s hiring of a new sustainability manager, Hamzah Abu-Ragheb, and Avendra’s requirement that all of its suppliers have a sustainability policy in place by the end of 2016. For those of you not familiar with Avendra, it is a procurement services provider formed in 2001 with the support of companies such as Marriott, Hyatt, Fairmont and Club Corp. Marriott (managed hotels) is Avendra’s largest customer. The bulk of what is purchased through Avendra is F&B related. I just heard from Hamzah and he informed me that Avendra just posted a document on its website that outlines its sustainability goals and provides an update on its progress. I read through the document, entitled “Sustainability Journey and Goals (2012-2016),” and according to Avendra, 93.5 percent of supplier contracts now have a sustainability policy on file. Those that do not yet have a sustainability policy on file are mainly smaller companies and/or companies in the Mexico/Caribbean area. Avendra is working on outreach and education to support these suppliers in developing a policy.

According to the document, Avendra is requiring that supplier sustainability policies include four elements. The four elements demonstrate a supplier’s commitment to being a part of the sustainability journey, while also supporting Avendra’s goals around accountability and transparency. First, the policy must be written. Second, the policy must include a vision statement around sustainability. Third, the policy must be signed by/endorsed by the CEO, owner, president or most senior manager. Fourth, the policy must be shared with Avendra and customers.

In order to help its customers meet its sustainability objectives and mitigate sustainability related risks within the supply chain, Avendra is also focused on driving sustainability issues forward within key categories/products. The categories include: 1. Personal Paper; 2. Sourcing Locally Produced Foods; 3. LED Lighting; 4. Foodservice Disposables; 5. Seafood; 6. Packaging; 7. Uniforms; 8. Textiles; 9. Palm Oil; and 10. Cleaning Chemicals.

In the document, each of the product categories is addressed. For example, regarding sustainable seafood, Avendra now considers the sustainable offering of a supplier during the RFP process. Alos, Avendra will continue to work with existing suppliers to increase certified sustainable seafood offerings.

Avendra says it will continue to provide updates on its progress in the months and years ahead.

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More Earth Day Activities from Green Lodging News Readers

by Glenn Hasek April 20, 2016 05:45

Since publishing my Earth Day column last week I have heard from a number of other companies and hotels with their Earth Day plans. First, a representative of Destination Hotels sent me a long list of activities that will take place at Destination Hotels properties as part of the company’s Destination Earth program. Upon checking in April 21 through April 22 at Hotel Derek, A Destination Hotel in Houston, each guest will receive a Texas shaped paper, which will bloom into a Texas wild flower garden. Additionally, the property will be featuring a farm to table menu to include local Texas wine specials in its Revolve Restaurant and Bar. Hotel Derek will also hold an all associate town hall with a farm to table menu, challenging associates to plant the provided assortment of seed packet gifts. Associates who bring in recyclable goods that they may have otherwise thrown away will receive a raffle ticket and be entered to win one of two $50 Target gift cards.

The Carolina Inn, A Destination Hotel in Chapel Hill, N.C., is celebrating Earth Day by holding a Book Drive benefit at the property’s local library. On Earth Day, L’Auberge Del Mar, A Destination Hotel in Del Mar, Calif., will “turn down the power” in the lobby in the evening and encourage guests to do the same. At the Seaport Hotel in Boston, associates will be installing two new, raised planters on the fifth floor roof—the same roof where nearly one million bees reside in hives. Also in celebration of Earth Day, the Seaport Hotel will be offering all guests staying overnight, and each of their team members, reusable Seaport Saves tote bags. At the 1 Hotel Central Park, visitors are being asked to be inspired by an Intention Tree on 6th Avenue during and Earth Day 5K Walking Tour. Visitors can read intentions expressed by the 1 Team and express their own.

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‘Pay as You Please’ Chef’s Table at Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain

by Glenn Hasek April 13, 2016 08:14

Would you trust your guests to pay what they believe is appropriate for food and service? That is what is happening at China’s Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain. There, a pay what you believe is appropriate pay policy is being implemented at the Chef’s Table at the Farm2Fork restaurant. The policy went into effect this month. Each Saturday morning after the chef has finished his rounds at the vegetable farm and confirmed with the local suppliers for the day’s availability of fresh produce, a four-course dinner menu is devised and written on the chalkboard at the upper level of the Farm2Fork restaurant. Come dinnertime, guests share a long table where the food is served family style. Rick Gonzalez, Executive Chef of the resort says, “This experience gives an opportunity for guests from all parts of the world to get together and chat with each other over dinner.” Chef Rick joins the dinner to share information on the sourcing and inspiration for the local ingredients used in the menu that he has created and shares a culinary tip or two.

A typical menu includes items such as hand rolled Parpadelle pasta, local farm raised Sturgeon, crispy shallots, green apple, Chinese celery remoulade, Sichuan sausage, wok-charred garden pea shoots and homemade Sichuan peppercorn ice cream.

Manish Puri, General Manager of Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain, loved the idea of a daily fresh-from-the-garden menu and to add a quirky element, issued the chef a friendly challenge by deciding not to have a fixed price for the Chef’s Table. Manish stated, “We don’t want to offer a fixed price. Guests can pay what they feel the food and service is worth. Our reward will be the smiles, the knowledge and anecdotes that we have been able to impart and the friends that will be made.”

The Chef’s Table is limited to a total of 12 guests. Dinner starts at 7 p.m. and service finishes at 9 p.m. Drinks are extra.

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‘Sustainable Sips’ Just One Part of Valencia Group’s Plans for Earth Month

by Glenn Hasek April 06, 2016 05:08

The Valencia Group is touting its commitment to protecting the planet with a number of different green initiatives this month. First of all, the predominant image on its website is Earth as seen from space. Below that image is a summary of some of the steps the company is taking this month—eco-friendly cocktails in its bars, for example. “We are proud to say that we do our part to protect Mother Earth by sourcing local ingredients, beautifying our areas, supporting community gardens, planting trees in our areas, and paying careful attention to sustainability efforts in each of our destinations,” the company’s home page states. The Valencia Group also issued a press release highlighting its ongoing sustainability programs as well as its Earth Day and Month activities. “We view our green initiatives not as a luxury or option, but as a necessity. Our hotels’ sustainability remains important to not only our guests but also our associates,” says Roy Kretschmer, Valencia Group Executive VP of Operations.

Highlights of recently implemented and ongoing green programming include: installation of motion-triggered lighting systems and energy-efficient lightbulbs; installation of low-flow toilets in public spaces and guestrooms; retrofitting of dishwasher spray nozzles to low-flow systems; conversion to biodegradable room keys; selection of glassware replacement focusing on 100 percent post-consumer recycled glass; selection of to-go boxes made from 100 percent compostable and biodegradable corn and soy paper; and guest promotion of towel reuse.

To mark Earth Day, Century Square, the mixed-use destination and future home of the two newest Valencia Group hotels in College Station, Texas, will have a total of four century-old oak trees that will be relocated within the development site to accommodate for planned infrastructure and building improvements and to keep from having to cut down the trees.

Throughout April, Valencia Group hotels are inviting guests to toast its food and beverage program’s focus on locally sourced ingredients with a special menu of Sustainable Sips cocktail offerings, which utilize gins, vodkas and whiskeys that have no additives and integrate organic botanicals such as thyme, rosemary, lavender and sage. In its press release, Valencia Group includes recipes for some of its “green” cocktails.

Does your property have Earth Day or Earth Month plans? Send me an e-mail to tell me about them. I can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

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A Few Highlights from Rezidor’s 2015 Responsible Business Report

by Glenn Hasek March 31, 2016 06:16

Following last spring’s earthquake in Nepal, employees of the Radisson Blu Resort Fujairah (UAE) donated an average of five percent of their salary to support their four Nepali colleagues whose families were affected by the earthquake. One of the affected staff lost two close family members in the quake. This is just one example of steps taken by employees of Rezidor Hotel Group properties to help those in need. The story comes from the Rezidor Hotel Group’s 2015 Responsible Business Report. Be sure to read the report. Rezidor has long emphasized responsible business. It implemented its first environmental policy in 1989. It followed with its Responsible Business program in 2001. Since then it has gradually developed various environmental actions and launched Think Planet in 2012. Think Planet covers the environmental actions of the business including energy efficiency, carbon offsetting, water conservation, waste management, and sustainable procurement.

There are many highlights to pay attention to in Rezidor’s 2015 report, including energy savings of 22 percent, water consumption reduced by 29 percent, 272 eco-labelled hotels, 32,000 trees planted, and Meetings Minus Carbon offsets of 32,000 tons of carbon.

Last year Rezidor launched a Radisson Blu partnership with “Just a Drop” and donates $15 for every 250 towels reused in Radisson Blu hotels—enough to provide one child with drinking water for life. Each hotel has a Responsible Business Coordinator and Responsible Business team. This helps drive the success of Rezidor’s Responsible Business initiatives.

Rezidor has cut energy consumption thanks, in part, to wireless guestroom controls and LED retrofits. Rezidor introduced a group-wide initiative to retrofit LED lights in all of its hotels. Rezidor uses continuous and creative communication to ensure that employees develop good energy use habits such as switching off appliances and lights when not in use.

One of Rezidor’s most recent successes is the Radisson Blu Hotel Nairobi Upper Hill which was awarded the Green Key eco-label in January 2016. As the first Green Key hotel in Kenya, it fully demonstrates the Think Planet commitment of Rezidor. The hotel integrates environmental technologies in the building including systems which enable it to reuse grey water for irrigation, a reverse osmosis plant for water production, energy efficient lights for interior and facade lighting, and solar panels for hot water production.

Twenty-five percent of Rezidor hotels are equipped with combined heat and power plants. Fifty-two percent of Rezidor hotels are now accurately measuring food waste during preparation, on the plate, or through spoilage. The company gathers data by volume or weight so that its food and drink teams can accurately gauge the required quantities. Rezidor has also rolled out food waste reduction training through its network of area chefs. The training resulted in a reduction of 20 percent in waste-per-cover in selected locations.

Rezidor works closely with all suppliers to set strict environmental and responsible business criteria on the products and services it purchases. All Rezidor suppliers, at the group, area, and hotel level, are required to sign the Supplier Code of Conduct which becomes part of the supplier agreement. Fifty-one percent of hotels also actively ask suppliers to complete Rezidor’s Responsible Business Supplier Questionnaire.

To access the 2015 Responsible Business Report and learn more about Rezidor’s initiatives, click here.

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Case Study of a Green Meeting: the Canadian Medical Association

by Glenn Hasek March 24, 2016 04:46

Dawn Baldwin, Director of Sales for the Halifax Convention Centre, recently wrote a case study detailing how the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) was able to green its 2015 meeting at the World Trade and Convention Centre in Halifax. The four-day, 537-attendee meeting was held last August. CMA wanted its event to be a model of event sustainability by focusing on three areas: food, pollution and waste, and power. Creating a sustainable menu was the first step. According to Baldwin, the Convention Centre culinary team focused on sourcing local menu items that were organic, fairly traded, seasonal and not processed, helping to reduce the carbon footprint and support the local Halifax economy. A total of 45 percent of the food was locally or regionally sourced. The team also ensured that imperfect fruits and vegetables that might otherwise be thrown away were worked into the menu. And, when the delegates were fed and full, leftovers were donated to Feed Nova Scotia, helping to reduce food waste and support a great local community service.

It was easy to keep overall waste to a minimum thanks to Nova Scotia’s leading recycling and composting programs. Waste was reduced throughout the event by reducing on-site materials, reducing signage, printing on recycled materials and asking suppliers to reduce packaging. A total of 3,044 pounds of waste was recycled or composted.

CMA encouraged remote participation for its members who couldn’t attend the event, using technology to limit carbon footprint. For the first time ever, the CMA conference used 100 percent green energy thanks to a partnership between the host venue, the Delta Halifax, Prince George Hotel and CMA. Together, they purchased renewable energy through Bullfrog Power.

The case study includes tips for event planners thinking about planning a green meeting. “The first tip is that it is vital to start conversations with your venue early to ensure sustainability is a high priority,” Baldwin says in her article. “Talk to your venue early about ways to conserve energy, while maintaining an excellent event experience,” she adds. “Work with your venue and schedule to see if there are other simple ways to save energy—like making sure break-out rooms have their technology and lights powered down during breaks and at the end of the day.”

To access the complete case study article, click here.

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Attendance Low at Sustain 2016 Conference

by Glenn Hasek March 17, 2016 05:00

Earlier this week I attended Sustain 2016, the Mid-Atlantic’s Annual Hospitality Conference. The event was held at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino in Dover, Del. It is one of just a few green lodging oriented events being held this year. The conference was a two-day event. Critical to the success of any conference is attendance and I have to say this one was easily the least attended conference I have experienced. I was told that attendance was 110 but if you subtract the exhibitors and the speakers, there were very few actual lodging owners or managers in the room—especially during the reception on day one and during the morning and afternoon sessions on day two. Attendance grew during lunch on day two. It must have been disappointing to the exhibitors who paid to be there. I had an exhibitor table and walked away with a grand total of four new subscribers. Having been part of the planning of other green conferences, I can sympathize with the event organizer. At what point do you cancel an event?

All of that said, the lack of hotelier attendance did not stop the speakers from doing their best and I did pick up some article ideas. For example, did you know the Grand Hyatt, Buckhead has a 30,000-gallon rainwater capture system? One speaker talked about a property that gives Monopoly money to guests who then can give that money to associates who provide exceptional service. That money can then be later turned in for actual dollars. I attended a session on “The Value of an On-site Audit” and learned about all of the reasons an energy audit is important—a way to reduce operating expenses, increase profits, reduce energy waste, increase asset value, etc.

I moderated a session entitled, “Innovation All Stars: Case Studies of Three Companies Determined to Make Our World More Sustainable.” All of my speakers did a great job. They represented companies including BioHitech, Local Motors, and Maidbot and talked about topics ranging from food waste to local manufacturing to a new vacuum system for hotels.

Prior to the event, I suggested that it would be a good idea to offer a tour of the Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, a property I had written about and one that has made significant progress in reducing energy costs and increasing recycling rates. No tour was offered to attendees—disappointing. I did, however, get my own tour with a few others after the event and got to see how the property recycles. Dover Downs is close to purchasing a food waste decomposition machine. It would have been interesting to see exactly how the property is saving energy.

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Five Lodging Companies Among Fortune’s 100 Best to Work For

by Glenn Hasek March 09, 2016 05:05

Fortune Magazine recently released its annual list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For. The list is in its 19th year and recognizes companies that have exceptional workplace cultures. There are five lodging companies on the list: Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants (No. 20 and now owned by IHG); Hyatt Hotels (No. 47); Hilton Worldwide (No. 56); Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts (No. 70); and Marriott International (No. 83). Google (Alphabet) is the No. 1 company on the list. How does Fortune determine what companies will make its annual list? Each year Fortune partners with Great Place to Work to conduct an extensive employee survey. Two-thirds of a company’s survey score is based on the results of the Trust Index Employee Survey, which is sent to a random sample of employees from each company. This survey asks questions related to employees’ attitudes about management’s credibility, overall job satisfaction, and camaraderie. The other third is based on responses to the Culture Audit.

The Culture Audit includes detailed questions about pay and benefit programs and a series of open-ended questions about hiring practices, methods of internal communication, training, recognition programs, and diversity efforts. At the Fortune site, one can sort the 100 Best Companies by % Women, % Minorities, # New Graduates Hired, and # Job Openings. I ran a sort on % Women and, of the five lodging companies, Marriott ranked the highest with 54 percent women, followed by Hilton with 52 percent, Hyatt with 50 percent, Kimpton with 46 percent, and Four Seasons with 46 percent. By percentage minorities, Hilton ranks highest among lodging companies with 67 percent, followed by Four Seasons with 65 percent, Hyatt with 63 percent, and Kimpton with 57 percent. Marriott’s percentage is not listed. Interestingly, lodging companies hold three of the top five spots on the list for minority representation. To access the 100 Best Companies to Work For list, click here.

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The Role of Hydration Stations in Reducing Plastic Bottle Waste

by Glenn Hasek March 02, 2016 06:23

I am currently working on an article on hydration stations. They are not water fountains but are sometimes paired with them. They make it easy to fill bottles with water and sometimes offer filtered water. Some machines even calculate the volume of plastic bottles you have filled or diverted from the landfill. The Hilton San Francisco Union Square has four of them. Zion Lodge in Springdale, Utah also has installed them. Hydration stations are an ideal way to eliminate, or at lease dramatically reduce, the volume of plastic bottle waste flowing from your property. Plastic bottle waste is a huge problem. According to an organization called Ban the Bottle, making bottles to meet America’s demand for bottled water uses more than 17 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year. That does not include the oil used for transportation. On average, an American will use a plastic bottle almost every other day but only recycle bottles about 25 percent of the time.

Americans use about 50 billion plastic bottles each year. What I am trying to get a handle on as I research for my article, is what the best practices are for hydration stations. Where in a hotel are the best places for them? Certainly a fitness center or spa works. What about in a guestroom corridor? What about other public or back-of-house areas? How does one encourage the use of hydration stations? For guests used to finding bottles of plastic water in their guestrooms, how do you get them to use reusable containers? Do you supply those containers? Do you direct guests to where they can buy them? What about for employees? Do you supply them with reusable containers? Seems to me that would make a lot of sense. What about messaging? Do you incorporate messaging about the environmental value in using hydration stations? I would love to know your thoughts. My sense is that hydration stations are still rare in our industry but they would go a very long way in helping to reduce plastic bottle waste. I can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

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New Report: Global Green Building Doubling Every Three Years

by Glenn Hasek February 24, 2016 05:19

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) last week released the results of the Dodge Data & AnalyticsWorld Green Building Trends 2016 SmartMarket Report, to which USGBC is a contributing partner. If you would like to get a sense of the magnitude of the green building market, I highly recommend getting a copy of the free report. The report reflects the results of more than 1,000 survey participants from 69 countries. The survey was conducted in 2015. The report says global green building continues to double every three years. Increasing consumer demand has pushed the world’s green building market to a trillion-dollar industry, a surge that has led to a corresponding increase in the scope and size of the green building materials market, which is expected to reach $234 billion by 2019. Economic forces were cited as the most important drivers for many of the countries surveyed. The report found that green buildings offer significant operational cost savings compared with conventional buildings.

To this effect, respondents expect a 14 percent savings in operational costs over five years for new green buildings and 13 percent savings in operational costs over five years for green retrofit and renovation projects. Building owners also report that green buildings—whether new or renovated—command a 7 percent increase in asset value over conventional buildings.

Today, there are nearly 75,000 commercial projects participating in LEED across the globe, with 1.85 million square feet of building space becoming LEED certified every day. Interestingly, client demand and environmental regulations are driving the growth, followed by market demand and it being the “right thing to do.” The report shows that the drivers behind green building vary by country. So too do the obstacles. For example, in China, protecting natural resources and improved indoor air quality are important drivers. Increasing worker productivity is most commonly selected by respondents in Saudi Arabia, Mexico, South Africa and Germany. Lack of public awareness and lack of political support/incentives are top obstacles in many developing green markets, including Brazil, Colombia, India and Poland.

The highest level of growth is expected in the developing world while growth in the developed world is expected to remain rigorous. The report breaks down survey results by region and concludes with breakdowns of those product areas that are benefiting most from green building—electrical, thermal and moisture protection, building automation systems, etc.

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About Me

Glenn Hasek is the publisher and editor of Green Lodging News. He has more than 20 years of experience writing about the lodging industry. He can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com or by phone at (813) 510-3868.