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It was 11 years ago that Jack DeBoer, known in the industry as the founder of extended stay lodging, opened the first Value Place hotel in Wichita, Kan. Whenever I travel, it seems like I am always passing a Value Place. There is good reason as Kyle Rogg, President and COO of the brand, told me this past week that there are now 184 open in the United States. Seventy-eight of those properties are company owned and the remainder franchisee owned. “We have about five company owned and five franchisee owned in construction,” Rogg said. Value Place’s mission is to provide an affordable, clean, safe and simple place to stay. Value Place even checks the names of guests against the Family Watchdog/Sex Offender database. “We don’t know of anyone else who takes such important precautionary steps to help ensure the safety of guests,” the company says on its website. While not known as a green brand, the company is taking some major steps to weed out inefficiencies.
Caesars Entertainment recently released its Corporate Citizenship Report 2013-2014. Entitled “Serious Play,” the report outlines the company’s successes and challenges in areas including people, guests and communities, and planet. The report is one of many that have been released in recent months by our industry’s largest companies. In this column I will highlight just a few of Caesars Entertainment’s accomplishments in the area of environment. Take a quick glance at the report and you will notice the company made significant improvements in how it deals with waste. From 2012 to 2013, the company’s diversion rate increased from 24 percent to 34 percent. “We recognized that was a big opportunity,” said Gwen Migita, Vice President of Sustainability and Corporate Citizenship at Caesars. “We brought someone in at the corporate level to oversee it. In Las Vegas we worked on food waste diversion.
The luxurious Dent Island Lodge is located on Stuart Island in British Columbia, northwest of Vancouver. The resort sits adjacent to a network of waterways that connect to the Pacific Ocean. The property’s location is remote yet it is easily accessible by water taxi and seaplane. While its location is its strong point from a get away from it all, touristic standpoint, the resort is reliant on diesel fuel to power the generators that produce its electricity—a rather costly approach to power generation and not very sustainable. In the first quarter next year, Dent Island Lodge will test a highly unique floating power plant that will provide all of the electricity it needs. The plant will sit within a specially built barge and be connected to the Lodge by submersible cable. Vancouver, B.C.-based Water Wall Turbine Inc. is providing the system that extracts potential and kinetic energy from large, fast moving water currents for conversion into energy. The Switch will supply the 500 kW converter.
It is more than five years now since I first posted an article about beekeeping on the Green Lodging News website. That article referred to The Fairmont Washington, D.C. and its three rooftop hives that included 105,000 Italian honey bees. There are now almost 20 articles on our site that mention beekeeping. I wrote a column about the topic in 2010. It included some beekeeping best practices. For example, did you know that if you are going to have hives on your property, you need to have at least two hives and they should not all be oriented in the same direction? I bring up honeybees this week because Greenview just released a study on beekeeping entitled, “Honey-Sweetened Hospitality.” (See related guest column.) In the study Greenview attempts to quantify the beekeeping phenomenon in our industry—particularly in urban locations. They identified 55 hive hotels globally.
Eight months ago Governor Jerry Brown declared the drought in California a “State of Emergency” and asked Californians to reduce their daily water consumption by 20 percent. Six months later the California Hotel & Lodging Assn. debuted a “California Water Resources” page on its website to help hoteliers in California link to water conservation ideas and rebates and incentives that make it easier to invest in efficient fixtures and other water-conserving items. (One example: In San Diego County, the SoCal Water$mart Program provides commercial customers with $100 per toilet rebates for replacing select older, inefficient toilets with new 1.28 gpf toilets that can reduce water use by 20 percent.) The California Hotel & Lodging Assn. did a great job putting together its page. This past week I posted an article about the drought and what several hoteliers in California are doing to address it. Be sure to read it.
What impact is climate change having on tourism in your state? Do you know the science behind it? The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) cares enough about the issue that it recently partnered with the University of Hawaii to produce a report entitled, “Climate Change Impacts in Hawaii: A summary of climate change and its impacts to Hawaii’s ecosystems and communities.” The report addresses such questions as, “What does climate change look like?” and “What is the current state of scientific knowledge regarding climate change globally, and how does it relate to Hawaii specifically?” “HTA is a knowledge-based organization and we believe it’s important to be informed about Hawaii’s environment as it relates to tourism,” said HTA President and CEO Mike McCartney. “We will use this study to help guide us in how we address our environmental initiatives.” I recommend reading through the report.
Assuming the project gets the approval of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in the next few weeks and is not appealed by voters in November, Mohegan Sun Massachusetts could end up being one of the greenest construction projects in U.S. lodging history. To be located at Suffolk Downs in Revere, Mass., the $1.3 billion destination resort will include a main casino hotel and boutique hotel totaling 500 rooms and over 170,000 square feet of casino floor space and 5,000 gaming positions. Gary Luderitz, V.P. of Operations & Development for Mohegan Gaming Advisors, told me this past week that the project will at least earn LEED Gold. “We will be shooting for [LEED] Platinum,” he says. Mohegan Sun Massachusetts, developed by the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, will create 2,500 construction jobs and 4,000 permanent jobs. There is a commitment to hire 75 percent of the workforce from within a 15-mile radius of Revere.
Marriott International just released its 2014 Sustainability Report. It is the third time Marriott has issued a Sustainability Report using guidelines established by the Global Reporting Initiative. One can either read it as a whole or select from a series of Issue Reports in areas such as Environmental Performance, Community Engagement, and Ethics and Human Rights. This new approach, according to Denise Naguib, Marriott’s Vice President of Sustainability and Supplier Diversity, makes the report a lot more readable. “The graphical changes are also much more appealing,” she told me in an interview this past week. There is much to pay attention to in the report. Marriott is still on pace to achieve a 20 percent reduction in energy and water intensity by 2020 (baseline year 2007). So far Marriott has reduced water intensity by 13 percent, energy intensity by 11 percent, and greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 12 percent.
With the summer winding down it is time to make your reservations to attend this fall’s green conferences and trade shows. The first event on the calendar is the Mid-Atlantic Green Hospitality Conference from September 15 to 16 at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino in Dover, Del. The itinerary for the inaugural conference is still being assembled but many of the details can be found by clicking here. Highlights include a farm-to-fork dinner and many educational and networking opportunities with industry peers and suppliers. The Lodging Green + Sustainability Conference & Expo is set for October 28 to 30 at Aria Las Vegas. This will be the second year for the event and is once again being organized by Lodging Magazine. Assisting this year will be EcoGreenHotel, NEWH Green Voice, and Green Lodging News. Almost 50 speakers will present on topics ranging from waste management to corporate responsibility. There are three tracks for educational sessions: design, finance, and engineering.
Touché! That’s what came to mind when reading Airbnb’s recent press release touting the reduced environmental footprint of the travelers booking places to stay through its website. According to the San Francisco-based company, which says more than 17 million travelers have used its website since its founding in 2008, in North America, Airbnb guests use 63 percent less energy than hotel guests. I was a bit taken aback that Airbnb, with its research partner, Cleantech Group, had actually thrown out a specific number like 63 percent. But hey, what do I know? Airbnb and Cleantech Group came to their conclusion after analyzing more than 8,000 survey responses from Airbnb hosts and guests worldwide and conducted research on residential and hotel sustainability levels and practices. Cleantech Group compared residences to the most sustainable and energy-efficient hotels.
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