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Because the dates for the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) annual Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show in Chicago fell right on the heels of the HD 2008 Expo & Conference this year, I was unable to attend. However, there was an announcement made at the restaurant show that you should know about—especially if you operate any kind of food and beverage operation. The NRA announced the launch of “Conserve: Solutions for Sustainability,” an initiative designed to support the United States’ nearly one million restaurant and foodservice locations as they become more eco-friendly.
Sometimes a little arm twisting can go a long way. Take Florida, for example. Last summer, Governor Charlie Crist—whose name has been tossed around as a possible running mate for Senator John McCain—issued an Executive Order requiring all state agencies and departments to do business only with Florida Green Lodging Program participants. The Executive Order went into effect on January 1 of this year and eventually will become a law. Faster than you can say “Go Gators,” hundreds of hotels got moving.
Last week was a busy one for Green Lodging News, with attendance at the Hospitality Design Expo & Conference in Las Vegas. The conference included Green Day last Wednesday. Be sure to read the two articles on Green Lodging News that provide summaries of Green Day, as well as some of the green products featured at the Expo. If you did not have an opportunity to attend these events this year, I strongly encourage you to do so in 2009.
I have already had three trips to Las Vegas this year. I am beginning to think I should just go ahead and move there. So many events in our industry are held there throughout the year—and, for good reason. It is a great place for a meeting. I was fortunate to be asked to moderate four green panel discussions at the Choice Hotels convention this past week. It was exciting to see such a large organization dedicate so much time to energy conservation and other green issues. In at least one of the sessions, it was clear that some franchisees are anxious for Choice to do more than it has been doing. I know that Choice is “all ears” when it comes to improvement suggestions.
Well, I did it. I purchased a flat-screen LCD television. After weeks of research and too many encounters with salesmen at the big box stores, I gave in. Anyone who has tried to shop for these things can relate to what I am talking about. It is not easy to figure out the terminology and abbreviations attached to today’s TVs. There is also a bit of sticker shock. Gone are the days when you could pick up a TV for a couple hundred bucks and still feel like you are keeping up with the times. For those of you who have yet to purchase flat-screen TVs for your guestrooms, all I can say is, “I feel your pain.”
As an increasing number of cities (and states) adopt new building standards that require the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, the writing on the wall just keeps on getting bigger. And what might that writing be? Plan to build green—to LEED standards—or your project will never get approved and off the ground.
It would be easy to go negative this week, just like the presidential candidates we have been watching for months. But Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22, is not a day to go negative, even with all we know about the state of our planet. Let’s use that day to celebrate the good things our industry has accomplished so far, what it is planning for the future, and to be confident that our best days are ahead of us—even with all the challenges we face.
Milestones are a good thing—well, most of the time. Last week I celebrated a birthday. I will let you guess how old I am. Let’s just say I have not yet gotten to the point where I am reading the instructions on Grecian Formula, but its location in the grocery store is memorized. In addition to my birthday, I celebrated another milestone last week—the addition of newsletter subscriber 8,000. I don’t know who it was exactly but if you signed up for the newsletter last week, you have my permission to feel a little more important than you usually do.
Because green buildings—those certified as such by the EPA’s Energy Star program or U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program—are historically a relatively new phenomenon, data to back the energy and financial performance of these structures has been relatively difficult to come by. It is that way in the lodging industry because there are just a handful of hotels that are LEED certified and only about 250 properties that are Energy Star rated. For those wanting to build a case for building green, two recently released studies should help immensely. Even though the studies are not specific to lodging, I believe they are very relevant and should shake any non-believers out of their shoes.
I write about a lot of hotel companies but I have to say that one of the companies that has impressed me most so far is Tifton, Ga.-based Stafford Hospitality. Greg Brosius, president of the company, and Susan Smith, controller, are Sherlock Holmes-like in their constant search for ways to save energy, water and reduce other operations-related costs. Stafford manages a collection of 12 hotels, eight of which it owns, and has two other hotels under development. Some of the brands represented in its inventory include: Hampton Inn & Suites, Comfort Suites, Howard Johnson, Holiday Inn Express, and Ramada Limited. The two properties under development will fly the Hilton Garden Inn and Wingate by Wyndham flags.
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