Vendor Surveys Confirm Growing Interest in Green Travel

by Glenn Hasek June 24, 2015 10:49

Two recent surveys confirm the likelihood that travelers are more apt to stay at lodgings that align themselves with social and/or environmental responsibility. The first survey, conducted by of 32,000 travelers across 16 countries, found that more than half of all global travelers report that they are likely to choose a destination based on it social or environmental impact. Interestingly, sustainable travelers were 50 percent more likely to intend to book more luxury accommodations in 2015 than they did in 2014 and three times as likely to plan to stay in more “green” accommodations in 2015 than they did in 2014. Brazilian respondents were most interested in sustainable travel, with 74 percent reporting that they would be likely to base a decision on these concerns. Australians (59 percent) and Americans (53 percent) were also among the world’s top sustainable travel intenders.

According to, while only 10 percent of respondents took a traditional sustainable trip in 2014 (defined as an eco-tour, a volunteering trip, a farm stay, a camping trip or a trip to learn about new cultures), this year will see the majority of global travelers being influenced by an intention to reduce their environmental impact, or to ensure that their tourism has a positive impact on the local community, when evaluating vacation destinations.

To determine what’s important to travelers when selecting a vacation or business trip location, a recent survey of 1,000 men and women in the United States was conducted by Social Science Research Solutions for Imprint Plus, a leading manufacturer of customized, eco-friendly, name badge and signage systems. When asked if they preferred to stay at eco-friendly establishments, an overwhelming 71 percent of the respondents reported that it was important. “Our survey tells us that U.S. travelers seek out eco-friendly establishments for their pleasure or business stays with nearly three-quarters stating that this was an important decision factor,” says Kristin MacMillan, Imprint Plus President and sponsor of the survey. “As an eco-friendly provider of reusable name badges and signage used widely by the hospitality industry, we realize the importance of being ‘green’ in America today.”


Captain Planet Chairperson Gets GMIC Meeting Off to Green Start

by Glenn Hasek June 18, 2015 15:52

The Green Meeting Industry Council kicked off its annual Sustainable Meetings Conference earlier this week. The theme: Power to Change. Laura Turner Seydel gave the opening keynote address. Seydel, daughter of Ted Turner, spoke about the many environmental organizations she is involved with. The list is long. She is chairperson of the Captain Planet Foundation which promotes hands-on environmental education projects worldwide. She is a director of and works with the Environmental Working Group to limit the toxic chemicals in food, air, water and consumer products. In 2004 she co-founded Mothers and Others for Clean Air and is currently the Chair of the Board, and in 1994 she and her husband co-founded Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. Seydel serves on her family’s foundation boards including The Turner Foundation, Jane Smith Turner Foundation, the Turner Endangered Species Fund, and Ted’s Montana Grill.

She lives with her husband and her three children in their home, EcoManor, the first LEED certified Gold residence in the southeastern United States.

Seydel told a number of stories about her famous father—an environmentalist and advocate himself of many green causes. She said her father picks up trash during his walks and taught his family that you have to be responsible for other people’s actions as well as your own. Seydel emphasized the importance of exposing children to nature and referred to nature deficit disorder, a phrase originally coined by Richard Louv in his 2005 book, “Last Child in the Woods.” She said many children today grow up with a fear of nature.

Of particular interest to Green Lodging News readers: Seydel said her father owns two lodging establishments in New Mexico. Those two properties, plus the many Ted’s Montana Grill locations, make Ted Turner a hospitality industry veteran. There is a strong sustainability story behind Ted’s Montana Grill. You can even download it from the company’s website. One of the company’s guiding principles is to “Be passionate ambassadors to help raise sustainability consciousness.” The restaurant’s founders, Ted Turner and George McKerrow, Jr., pioneered the effort to preserve the American bison. Bison is now served at Ted’s Montana Grill restaurants.

Ted’s Montana Grill recently opened its first LEED certified restaurant. It is located in Alpharetta, Ga.

Seydel closed her presentation by talking about the National Restaurant Association’s Conserve Initiative and also mentioned the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Green Initiatives.

“We have to think about how our actions today will impact future generations,” she emphasized.


Many Recognizable Names in Newsweek's Green Rankings

by Glenn Hasek June 10, 2015 05:17

Newsweek just released its Green Rankings. The project consists of two lists: The U.S. 500 ranks the 500 largest publicly-traded companies in the United States by market capitalization, while the Global 500 looks at the 500 largest publicly-traded companies globally by market capitalization as determined by Bloomberg as of March 4, 2015. In other words, if your company is not public or it is not large enough to be in the top 500 lists based on market capitalization, it was not considered. This year Newsweek generated the lists in partnership with Corporate Knights Capital and HIP (Human Impact + Profit) Investor Inc. Data used was from 2013 and there were eight criteria considered: Combined Energy Productivity, Combined Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Productivity, Combined Water Productivity, Combined Waste Productivity, Green Revenue Score, Green Pay Link, Sustainability Board Committee, and Audited Environmental Metrics.

Some of the methodology is pretty complicated and certain criteria are weighted more heavily than others. At least one company so far, Wynn Resorts, Limited, has issued a press release touting the fact that its U.S. ranking jumped by 244 positions since last year. Wynn Resorts’ ranking this year: 100. Also ranked on the U.S. list this year:

Las Vegas Sands Corp. at 60;
MGM Resorts International at 112;
Wyndham Worldwide Corp. at 114;
Host Hotels & Resorts, Inc. at 199;
Marriott International, Inc. at 231;
The Walt Disney Co. at 255;
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. at 256;
Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. at 300; and
Hyatt Hotels Corp. at 335.

I have worked on a number of similar rankings in the past and they are never perfect. No company is perfect when it comes to sustainability. Newsweek itself admits there are flaws in its project. “Because companies, for the most part, do not report their impacts on biodiversity or the impact of their suppliers, it is possible for a company to outsource or push these environmental impacts “off the balance sheet,” Newsweek says.

What hospitality companies appear on Newsweek’s list is no surprise. They all have ambitious sustainability initiatives. It is good to see our industry represented on a list with such media exposure.


Florida's Reedy Creek Improvement District is Hub of Green Activity

by Glenn Hasek June 04, 2015 05:46

Most folks outside of the Orlando area have never heard of the Reedy Creek Improvement District. According to the District’s website, its history goes back to the mid-1960s when the Walt Disney World Co. proposed building a recreation-oriented development on 25,000 acres of property in Central Florida. The property sat in a remote area of Orange and Osceola County, so secluded that the nearest power and water lines were 10 to 15 miles away. Neither Orange nor Osceola County had the services or the resources needed to bring the project to life. The predicament was resolved in 1967 when the Florida State legislature, working with Walt Disney World Co., created a special taxing district—called the Reedy Creek Improvement District—that would act with the same authority and responsibility as a county government. I visited the District last year for an article on the Central Florida Energy Garden.

The Energy Garden is an organics management and renewable energy facility that converts organic waste—human waste, food scraps and fats, oil and grease (FOG)—into renewable biogas and natural fertilizers. When operating at full capacity, the facility will process more than 120,000 tons of organic materials annually while producing 5.4 megawatts of combined heat and power. Walt Disney World Resort sends its food waste to the Energy Garden.

The District was in the news again this past week for another sustainability-related project. In case you missed it, Duke Energy Florida has received approval to build, own and operate a 5-megawatt solar facility that will serve the District. The Reedy Creek Improvement District Board of Supervisors voted to accept a 15-year power-purchase agreement with Duke Energy Florida Solar Solutions LLC, a subsidiary of Duke Energy Florida, to purchase solar energy from the facility. Once constructed, all of the energy from the facility will be sold to the District to meet its energy needs. The facility will occupy approximately 20 acres near World Drive and Epcot Center Drive at Walt Disney World Resort. Construction is expected to begin mid-summer with the facility to be in service by year end. The facility’s 48,000 solar panels will be arranged in the shape of a Disney-inspired design.

According to Duke Energy Florida, it has taken several steps to advance solar technology in its service area. In April, the company announced plans to build up to 500 megawatts of solar by 2024 as part of a 10-year plan. It also has funded more than $8 million in solar photovoltaic system installations at approximately 50 K-12 schools and universities in Florida to generate electricity and help foster renewable energy education.


One More Energy-, Water-Saving System to Consider for Your Laundry

by Glenn Hasek May 28, 2015 05:36

Earlier this month I posted an article on ozone laundry systems, the suppliers who offer those systems, and the many benefits that can be derived from using ozone in washers. I just heard from a company that does something very similar to the suppliers I mentioned in my article. The company is OMNI Chemicals. OMNI, not a Green Lodging News advertiser, is somewhat different from the other ozone system suppliers in that they also manufacture the chemicals used in the laundry in conjunction with their system that uses hydroxyl radicals. According to OMNI, its advanced oxidation system uses the heavy humid air in a washroom to fuel its UV dispenser which creates hydroxyl radicals. What is created stimulates all facets of the wash process as the radicals are 500 percent more reactive than chlorine bleach or the older ozone technology. This next generation technology is dispensed just like one of the other chemicals in measured precise doses to achieve the desired outcomes.

“This is a huge change from previous applications or equipment associated with ozone,” the company says. “Unlike ozone, hydroxyl radicals have no harmful side effects and is supported by both the CDC and EPA.”

OMNI’s business model is also quite unique in that they offer their system and chemical pumps at no cost with the purchase of a one year supply of laundry and housekeeping chemicals. According to the company’s website, its system works best in cold environments and leaves no harmful byproducts behind. OMNI’s laundry chemical products are designed specifically to perform in cold environments with hydroxyls. All of OMNI’s products are completely biodegradable and do not contain any harmful and dangerous compounds such as alkalis or caustics. OMNI is also a provider of natural cleaning products for glass and other surfaces.

As you evaluate all of the suppliers mentioned in my original article, be sure to include OMNI Chemicals in the mix.


GoFoam Florida Reaches Out to Green Lodging News

by Glenn Hasek May 20, 2015 06:50

I recently heard from someone representing a local foam advocacy site here in Florida. The name of the site is GoFoam Florida. In case you are wondering what kind of foam I am referring to, it is the polystyrene foam found in cups (often referred to as Styrofoam cups, even though Styrofoam is a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company that is used for insulation, not food packaging products). Polystyrene foam is also used in egg cartons, serving trays, to-go containers, etc. GoFoam is an affiliate of Dart Container Corp., maker of polystyrene foam containers. Of course it is in the best interest of Dart to do what it can to keep folks using polystyrene foam. For those who do, and there are a lot of you, Dart has provided a map of public drop-off locations for polystyrene foam recycling. A quick check found just four locations here in Florida.

There are recycling “hot spots” in the Northeast, Michigan and California but as a whole those of you still using foam containers would be hard pressed to find a drop-off location.

I wrote about a proposed polystyrene foam ban in New York City a couple of years ago in my blog. It is pretty clear that the person who wrote to me was given marching orders to try to combat any negative press polystyrene foam had gotten.

On the GoFoam Florida site Dart explains what happens to foam containers that are recycled. They are used to make items such as garden nursery trays, picture frames, rulers, and architectural molding. Dart also explains the other advantages: less costly than more easily biodegradable alternatives, insulates better than paper, etc. In its “About” section, GoFoam comes right out and says, “Foam is good for the environment.” One of the criticisms of polystyrene foam is that it biodegrades slowly and is thus seen as a huge litter problem. Dart says, however, that it is not the foam that is the issue, it is people’s behavior. “A foam ban will not stop people from littering,” Dart says. Of course that is unfortunately true. My advice is to study all of the alternatives when it comes to packaging. If you still use polystyrene foam, certainly seek out recycling options. If there are no drop-off locations in your area—and I recognize it is an extra burden to have to go drop off anything—seriously explore other packaging options. Your thoughts? I can be reached at


A Bit of Green News from Day One of HD Expo

by Glenn Hasek May 14, 2015 05:44

HD Expo has always been one of my favorite shows and for good reason. From a sustainability or “green” standpoint, there are always many new products to discover, many new green stories to uncover, and other news to pick up as well. Day one of this year’s event at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas proved to be no exception. My first stop on the trade show floor was booth 5872. There, I found first-time exhibitor WoodTrac introducing its new decorative wooden ceiling system. The system is an alternative to the standard drop ceiling systems. The system has Forest Stewardship Council Chain-of-Custody Certification and includes recycled wood content. WoodTrac is a division of Sauder Woodworking. Sauder’s cogeneration plant in Ohio is fueled by sawdust from its manufacturing operations. At booth 3211 I learned about a just announced collaboration between CentraLite and Leggett & Platt Smart Products. The two companies have combined to produce a guestroom energy management system that goes beyond others I have seen. For example, guests can choose their optimal room temperature prior to their stay.

During the show Leggett & Platt Smart Products introduced LPSense Illuminate. It is a lighting system that senses a guest’s presence. It can be integrated into furniture, including beds, night stands and dressers. The product was developed to help guests navigate dark rooms. Leggett & Platt Smart Products also introduced Helios Time, a bedside alarm clock that offers Qi wireless charging technology, Bluetooth streaming, Wi-Fi connectivity and a carbon monoxide detector.

Simmons Hospitality Bedding (booth 2823) announced that it has added TENCEL fiber to its Advanced Temperature Management Design. TENCEL is now the first layer of temperature control in the mattress, helping to absorb and wick away moisture, Simmons says. TENCEL is a botanic fiber from Lenzing Group. At booth 2435 I learned about Grohe America’s enhanced GROHE Blue Chilled + Sparkling faucet that offers users the option of dispensing filtered still, medium sparkling or full sparkling water. The system eliminates the need for plastic bottled water. Through five layers of filtration, the five-stage filter removes all unwanted substances that will affect the taste and smell of water.

Be sure to read about other interesting products I discovered at HD Expo in my upcoming Publisher’s Point of View column. Finally, it was while walking the trade show floor that I ran into a friend from Lodging magazine. He informed me that Bill Corsini is no longer with Lodging. Bill was the driving force behind the 2013 and 2014 Lodging Green & Sustainability Conference + Expo. Lodging still plans to organize a conference in 2016 but losing Bill will be a setback for sure.


ITP: September 2016 is Goal for Release of Water Measurement Methodology

by Glenn Hasek May 07, 2015 05:45

It was about four years ago that a Working Group was formed to work on development of a methodology to calculate and communicate the carbon footprint of hotel stays and meetings in a consistent and transparent way. That methodology was released in mid-2012 and was named Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative (HCMI) 1.0. According to the International Tourism Partnership (ITP), there are now 21,500 hotels around the world currently using HCMI. ITP just announced plans to standardize water measurement in the industry this past week. A working group that has been focusing on other water issues the last two years will now collaborate to create a standardized approach to measuring and communicating water consumption across the hotel industry. The hotel industry has been inconsistent in how it measures and communicates water consumption, says Fran Hughes, Head of Programmes, ITP. Fran told me the most commonly used metric today is consumption per occupied room. “This is the metric requested via RFPs,” she says.

“We will be reviewing this as a working group to ensure it is the most appropriate metric,” Fran says. “Yes, you could ask a hotel for the water footprint of a meeting but at this stage you may get it in different ways from different companies, hence developing a common standard through shared learning and consensus on best practice.” It is too early to say what the agreed-upon metric eventually will be, Fran said. From this point on, a call has been scheduled for Tuesday to review working group members’ current practices. These practices were collected using a survey. “We will then look at external methodologies and start to work through the issues we have identified, such as how to account for water consumption outside metered municipal supply, how to account for outsourced laundry, landscaping, factoring in water scarcity and so forth,” Fran said. “We are at the start of the journey but we hope to launch the methodology publicly in September 2016.”

Be sure to continue to follow Green Lodging News for updates on the methodology.


Deloitte Report: CFOs Increasingly Involved in Setting, Executing Sustainability Strategy

by Glenn Hasek April 30, 2015 05:14

Deloitte recently released a new whitepaper entitled, “CFOs and Sustainability: Shaping Their Roles in an Evolving Environment.” The whitepaper compares the results of Deloitte’s 2013 CFO Sustainability Survey against those from the company’s 2012 survey. The findings reveal some interesting trends as they relate to the role of the CFO when it comes to sustainability.* According to Deloitte, CFOs are becoming more involved in setting and executing sustainability strategy. In fact, in 2012, 27 percent of CFOs surveyed said they are always involved in setting sustainability strategy. In 2013 that number climbed to 43 percent. In 2012, 32 percent said they are always involved in driving organizational execution of their firm’s sustainability strategy. In 2013 the percentage jumped to 45 percent. A total of 73 percent of respondents said their involvement in sustainability had increased or slightly increased during the last year. Eighty percent of respondents expect their involvement in sustainability to increase or slightly increase in the next two years.

The survey found that CEOs are increasingly accountable to the board for a firm’s sustainability strategy (62 percent in 2013 compared to 44 percent in 2012). The impact of sustainability on key financial decisions has increased in M&A (to 48 percent in 2013, up from 33 percent in 2012), capital allocation (60 percent, up from 48 percent in 2012), and capital raising (55 percent, up from 44 percent in 2012). Compliance with new energy efficiency and carbon regulations was most often cited as a very important sustainability-related finance initiative in 2013. This was also the case in 2011 although, in the 2012 survey, compliance was edged out (by one percentage point) by investment in cleantech products.

Key areas cited by CFOs as being those in which they “plan to make capital investments in the next two years” include industrial emissions reductions equipment (61 percent), building energy efficient equipment (61 percent), software for energy and carbon management (54 percent), and software for environmental management (50 percent).

When asked to select among barriers to capital investments in sustainability initiatives, CFOs most often noted failure to pay back within two years—cited as first or second most significant by a total of 64 percent—and the business case benefits not being properly quantified—cited as first or second most significant by a total of 49 percent, followed very closely by the benefits being too small compared with those of other potential projects (at 48 percent).

To access the complete report, click here.

*On behalf of Deloitte, Verdantix interviewed the chief financial officers, finance directors, or, in non-English speaking nations, their equivalents in 250 companies in 15 different industries and 15 countries (including countries from the Middle East and the Benelux states). Each company had annual revenue greater than $1 billion. Average annual revenue was $11.5 billion. Total revenue of all companies exceeded $2.9 trillion. Industries represented include automotive, basic resources, business services and media, chemicals, construction and materials, energy and utilities, financial services, food and beverages, hotels and leisure, industrial and high-tech engineering, personal and household products, pharmaceuticals and medical, retail, technology and telecommunications, and travel and transportation. A minimum of 12 interviews per industry were conducted.


Some Earth Day Reflections—45 Years After Earth Day’s Founding

by Glenn Hasek April 22, 2015 05:13

Happy Earth Day! This year marks the 45th anniversary of the first Earth Day in 1970. How will your property or company be marking the occasion? As mentioned in last week’s blog post, there is a lot of Earth Day activity today in our industry. Taking the time once each year to officially recognize the environmental challenges in front of us is important. You have got to understand the challenges in order to overcome them. Earth Day is also a day for celebration—recognizing the collective, positive work of individuals throughout your company. When was the last time you celebrated your team’s environmental accomplishments? For me, in my position as editor of Green Lodging News, Earth Day is a day to look back over the almost nine years of producing my publication to get a sense of how our industry’s commitment to environmental protection has evolved—and it certainly has evolved, for the better, over those nine years. Today, it is quite difficult to keep up with all of our industry’s sustainability-related news.

There was a time when it was much easier, as a decade ago there were just a handful of companies with formal green programs. Consider that in 2005 there were just two LEED certified lodging establishments. Clean the World and Global Soap, the two nonprofits recycling soap (now together under Clean the World), did not exist and neither did programs such as Hilton’s LightStay or InterContinental Hotels Group’s Green Engage. Marriott was not using Green Hotels Global to collect utility data and environmental best practices and TripAdvisor had years to go before launching its now widely adopted GreenLeaders program. There was no Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative, no large-scale solar installations, and LEDs were primarily found in hotel signage, not in hotel lobbies, restaurants or guestrooms. Technological advancements over the last decade—wireless communication, variable speed drives, Internet-based tools, etc.—have all made it easier to lessen one’s environmental impact.

As you look back over the last decade, or if you can the last 45 years, what stands out as the most significant step our industry has taken to become more sustainable? What stands out for me is our industry’s collective effort to monitor its impact and progress.

Chances are good that I will not be around for another 45 years. From wherever I am at that point, it will be fascinating to see how much more sustainable our industry has gotten—and what people, trends, pressures, procedures and technologies got them there. Your thoughts? I can be reached at


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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 or by phone at (813) 510-3868.