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Smoking rooms were in the news again this past week—in several instances. First, state lawmaker Ken Zebrowski proposed a bill that would ban smoking rooms within lodging establishments in New York. Second, Choice Hotels International announced that Comfort Inn will join Comfort Suites in implementing a 100 percent smoke-free policy beginning July 1, 2016, making Comfort the largest hotel brand in the United States to do so with more than 1,700 properties across the country. Third, Caesars Entertainment announced that 11 of its casino-resort and entertainment properties achieved LEED Equivalency. The properties failed to achieve actual LEED certification because USGBC regulations prohibit properties that allow smoking from achieving LEED certification.
Let’s call him “John Smith.” This is a true story but I will protect the gentleman’s privacy. John drives an electric vehicle (EV) in Las Vegas and also lives in Las Vegas. One evening he decided he would go to a casino for dinner and gambling. He chose that casino because it has an EV charging station. He figured he could charge his vehicle while having a nice evening out. Upon arrival at the casino he was told by a resort associate that the charging station was for guests only. Let’s call this negative experience number one. Keep in mind that John intended to spend several hundred dollars at the property that night. A charging station was available so the resort associate did end up allowing John to use it.
I would not call it a flurry of announcements about LEED Platinum hotel developments but it is quite unusual to read about two in less than a month. The first one, in case you missed it, is the College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Hyattsville, Md. That property, originally named the Marriott Inn and Conference Center University of Maryland University College, was the first hotel in the United States to earn any type of LEED certification. The property, which has 237 guestrooms and suites, recently went through several years of renovation and emerged as one of just four LEED Platinum hotels in the United States. Just announced in the last two weeks is “Project Bella,” a yet to be officially named hotel project.
Those attending this November’s HX: The Hotel Experience and Boutique Design New York will be doing so in a building—the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center—that has undergone some dramatic changes in recent years. High above the trade show floors, up on the roof of the complex, there is a 6.75-acre green roof. “As the second largest of its kind in the country, the nearly seven-acre green roof is serving as a model for sustainability nationwide, reducing our energy consumption while becoming a living laboratory for various groups such as Drexel University, Cooper Union and the New York City Audubon,” says Rebecca Marshall, Energy and Sustainability Manager at the Javits Center.
It was on June 26, just two months ago, that ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 188-2015, Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems was released. Less than three weeks later, there was an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease in New York City that left 12 dead and more than 100 infected. Part of the outbreak did trace back to a hotel and there was a cooling tower connection and that quickly got the attention of government officials in New York. New York City Council adopted legislation that requires adherence to part of ASHRAE’s newly published standard and the state Health Department enacted emergency regulations to combat Legionnaires’ disease—requiring building owners to register and test their cooling towers.
As published on Green Lodging News, Xanterra Parks & Resorts just released its 2014 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Report. For those of you not familiar with Xanterra, its assets include operations at Grand Canyon National Park, Yellowstone National Park and numerous other parks, two resorts, two hotels, and companies such as Windstar Cruises and VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations. Xanterra is one of the companies I have been reporting on the longest. The company has been tracking its environmental footprint since 2000. Since that year Xanterra has reduced its total fossil fuel consumption across park and resort operations by 29 percent, increased renewable energy use by 18 percent.
I am one of the few people in America who has never had a cup of coffee. And no, thinking about it does not keep me up at night. What should keep me up at night, however, is the incredible amount of waste created by single-serve coffee and other beverage pods (a.k.a. K-Cups, k cups, kups). An estimated 20+ billion k cups will be consumed in 2015. Stack them end to end and yes, they do go pretty far outside of our planet. If you have a Keurig Green Mountain brewer in your guestrooms, lobby or breakfast area, it is most likely consuming non-recyclable polystyrene cups. In an article posted this past week on Green Lodging News, I explore alternatives to the non-recyclable k cups. Click below or the headline above to read that article.
I have often heard speakers cite figures about the number of green certification programs available to businesses. Typically the inference is that there are too many of the programs. That may very well be true but there should always be room for one more in our industry if it has been thoughtfully developed, is innovative, of value to the user, and of benefit to guests. This past week I spoke with Debra Duneier, Founder and President of New York-based EcoChi, LLC about her company’s EcoChi 180° certification program. It is just beginning to be adopted by hospitality businesses. What interested me about EcoChi 180° is that it addresses some issues that other lodging certification programs do not address.
Could the battery in the electric vehicle you are driving today help store and provide energy for your hotel tomorrow? It may happen soon thanks to the partnership between Green Charge Networks and Nissan that was announced last month. Green Charge Networks is one of the companies mentioned in the article I posted last week on energy storage technology. For those of you not familiar with energy storage systems, they are currently being deployed primarily in California. They help reduce demand charges that typically account for at least 30 percent of a commercial electricity bill, and often as much as 50 percent. Demand charges are based on the highest 15 minutes of electricity usage each month.
The International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show (IHMRS) has long been my favorite industry show. In recent years the show has experienced a steady decline in attendance as other shows have come along and people’s buying and networking habits have changed. In 2013 and 2014 Green Lodging News worked with the managers of the event to create a Hospitality Green Division—an area where green exhibitors were grouped together. It was a great idea and, I believe, a positive step in helping to stabilize the show. Yet, that step and several others were just not enough to save the show. I just learned that the owners and managers of IHMRS, in the show’s 100th year, have decided to stop IHMRS.
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