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To what degree does how a country is governed, and how its people are treated, permeate the process you go through to decide where to build and from where to buy? I thought about that, as I have many times, this past week on the 25th anniversary of China’s Tiananmen Square Massacre. On June 4, 1989, hundreds, possibly thousands died after gathering to voice their displeasure with corruption and their desire for freedoms that they lacked. Today the Chinese government is doing all it can to erase the memory of that event from its history—jailing those who talk about it and scrubbing the Internet of its traces. Has anything really changed in China? Since that historic day in 1989, China’s economy has boomed, the standard of living for most Chinese has improved (as the environment has suffered) and many in our industry have taken advantage of China’s growth—building hotels, resorts, and buying goods and services.
If you are looking to benchmark your property’s occupancy, average daily rate and revenue per available room against your chosen competitive set, there are trusted sources for that information. But let’s says you want to benchmark your property’s energy consumption or carbon emissions against a competitor or competitors, where do you go? Within your own company—Hilton, Marriott, IHG, Wyndham, etc.—that is quite possible because utility data is now collected consistently and in a standard format, but what about benchmarking against a hotel or hotels outside your company? Thanks to a collaboration between the Cornell University Center for Hospitality Research (CHR), the Cornell University Center for Real Estate and Finance (CREF), Greenview, and nine hotel companies, the lodging industry now has the capability to benchmark energy and carbon emissions across companies.
The public relations team behind Starwood Capital Group’s eco-luxury 1 Hotels & Resorts is beginning to release new information about three 1 Hotels currently in development. The first two properties—in New York City’s Central Park and Miami Beach—are scheduled to open this fall. The third property will be located in Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn, N.Y., and will open next year. All of the 1 Hotels will be LEED certified and every hotel will feature a farm fresh restaurant consistent with the brand’s core environmental values. In 2006, Starwood Capital Group created SH Group, a hotel brand management company that owns the environmentally-focused 1 Hotels & Resorts brand. Long-time readers of Green Lodging News may recall seeing the first articles about 1 Hotels in 2007. At that time 1 Hotel projects were announced for Seattle, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Cleveland, and Vancouver Island, B.C.
I spent about 16 hours on the trade show floor at HD Expo this past week. Unfortunately, because of cancellations and other airline issues, I spent more than 27 hours in airports and on planes getting to and from Hospitality Design’s annual event in Las Vegas. The good news is that the travel pains were well worth it as the hundreds of suppliers in attendance delivered not only a wide variety of green products but fascinating conversations as well. It would be impossible for me to mention all of the products I learned about in one column. There were certainly a lot one would expect to find at a design event—fabrics and carpet made from recycled or other eco-friendly fibers, for example. I saw many types of LED lighting. I did not see a single compact fluorescent on display. It is amazing how quickly lighting has changed. There was furniture made from reclaimed wood and recycled milk jugs.
April 20, 2010 was not a good day in our country’s history. We don’t think of “4-20” like we do “9-11” but it was the day of the gas release and subsequent explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Eleven people died and oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days. That day had a tremendous impact on Scott Miller. On the day of the accident he was working in finance at OppenheimerFunds in New York City. The oil rig disaster inspired him to leave his job and dedicate his life to green causes. Scott applied for and was accepted to the Masters in Sustainability program at Columbia University, where he recently graduated. It was last year, however, when things got really interesting for Scott. He applied for and was accepted into the Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate Fellows Program. Scott was matched with Las Vegas' Caesars Entertainment Corp. in early May 2013.
I am by no means a plastics historian but it is clear that 1990 was a big year—especially for the recycling of high-density polyethylene (HDPE), the type of plastic used in milk jugs, detergent bottles, and shampoo bottles. It was then that Doug Rassi and Mark Phillabaum, founders and owners of Poly-Wood, Inc., discovered they could extrude recycled milk jugs into plastic lumber. That lumber could then be used to design and build outdoor furniture. Also in 1990, Environmental Specialty Products began making outdoor furniture using recycled HDPE. So too did Fibrex Group. Poly-Wood, Environmental Specialty Products and Fibrex Group are just three of the companies I highlight in an article posted this past week on outdoor furniture that incorporates recycled plastic content. A total of 10 suppliers are mentioned.
As mature as green building is today, there are just a handful of companies that have made a commitment to lead efforts to newly construct or renovate to either LEED standards or something comparable. Of course Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide with its Element brand comes to mind (12 hotels now open in United States and Canada). Atmosphere Hospitality Management is another with its Adoba Eco Hotel & Suites (two hotels open in the United States). Other developers have made strong commitments to LEED—Concord Hospitality is one example. A company I would like to highlight in this column is Charter House Innovations, Holland, Mich. The company was the first in our industry to open a LEED certified hotel in the Midwest—the 56-room, boutique-style CityFlatsHotel in Holland, Mich.
I suspect that Earth Day is every day for many of you but its official celebration date is Tuesday, April 22, and many in our industry are planning special events and promotions. A number of them are summarized in an article posted recently on the Green Lodging News site. Aqua Hospitality, for example, will celebrate Earth Day by supporting ocean preservation through both a volunteer cleanup and donation to Hui o Koolaupoko. Hyatt Place Raleigh-West and Southern States Management are hosting an Earth Day event to celebrate the hotel, as it is one of only a few U.S. Green Building Council LEED certified hotel options in the Raleigh (N.C.) area. On Earth Day, L’Auberge Del Mar guests will be provided with souvenir LED flashlights to encourage them to minimize use of lights in their guestrooms. Lights will also be dimmed throughout the property.
One of the most intriguing, cool, green hotels to come along in a while is going to open in Bogota, Colombia on May 15. The Biohotel Organic Suites is the creation of Samuel Huertas, an accountant and entrepreneur who told me his new seven-story, 72-room property is “my retirement plan.” With his family, Huertas actually owns 46 percent of the property with other “Bio Investors” owning the remainder. The Biohotel Organic Suites is the first hotel project for Huertas and is the result of five years of planning. The name alone certainly creates a certain level of expectations, doesn’t it? Aiming for LEED Gold certification, the hotel is quite impressive from a sustainability standpoint. I encourage you to visit the hotel’s website to see some of the images of the exterior and interior.
It was almost five years ago that I wrote about two guys—one based in Orlando (Shawn Seipler) and the other based in Houston (a friend of Shawn's)—who were astounded by the volume of partially used bars of soap and shampoo that were thrown away by inns, hotels and resorts. They were so inspired to do something about it that they got together and formed Clean the World, the nonprofit now known industrywide for its success in collecting and converting used soap bars into new bars fit for distribution to those in need. Clean the World also collects and distributes shampoos, conditioners, lotions and gels from participating hospitality partners and organizes the assembling and distribution of hygiene kits that include nine different items. Clean the World had a pretty good week last week.
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