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In the little more than two years that I have been writing this column, I have received a number of requests to read and write about new books. Up until this point, I have written about and recommended just one book: “Green to Gold,” a book co-authored by Daniel C. Esty and Andrew S.Winston. There is another book that I would like to recommend for anyone interested in making their lodging operation a greener and healthier one.
I am excited to announce that Green Lodging News has started a blog on its website. For those of you not familiar with blogs, they are simple websites that give one the capability to post news, comments, video, etc. Blogs are interactive. At the end of each blog posting, there is a “comments” link that allows one to post a response. There are numerous ways to link to the Green Lodging News Blog. On the website home page there are three links. The first one is located in the upper left area under “departments.” The second link is below the blocks of text that appear below my photo on the home page. You can also link to the blog by clicking on the promotional ad located in the lower right area of the website.
California has been a hub for green hotel activity for quite some time. Two of the first U.S. hotels to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification are located there—The Orchard Garden Hotel in San Francisco and the Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and Spa in American Canyon. The first hotel in the United States to obtain LEED certification for an existing building (LEED-EB) is The Ambrose in Santa Monica. There are many other properties in the state that have been the first to do great things operationally and from a design and build standpoint.
I am among the group of travelers that takes home unused amenity bottles for final consumption and recycling. I have about 15 bottles sitting on my bathroom sink waiting to be used. Only three of the bottles have ingredients listed. While writing an article on amenities this past week, I learned that it is not required that ingredients be listed when products are given away—which they are in hotel guestrooms. Eight of the bottles list where they were made. It should come as no surprise that most amenity bottles, even some containing what is marketed as cutting-edge “green” product, are made in China. In doing research for my article, it became clear quickly that the amenity world is just as prone as most product categories are to “green” fuzziness.
For 12 years now, J.D. Power and Associates has conducted its North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study. This year’s study was based on responses gathered between June 2007 and June 2008 from more than 53,000 guests who stayed in a hotel between May 2007 and June 2008. Kudos to those hotel brands that finished first in their respective categories: The Ritz-Carlton, luxury; Embassy Suites Hotels, upscale; Hyatt Place, mid-scale full service; Drury Inn & Suites, mid-scale limited service; Microtel Inns & Suites, economy/budget; and Homewood Suites, extended stay.
Thanks to an invitation to speak at the 2008 Louisiana/Mississippi Bed and Breakfast Annual Conference last week in New Orleans, I had the opportunity to take a bus tour of some of that city’s B&Bs, as well as the areas of the city that were hit hard by Hurricane Katrina. One of the B&Bs I visited, the Ashtons Bed & Breakfast, experienced a lot of damage during the storm. (Picture a side of a home getting hit by a cannonball.)
July has been a good month for wind. This past week, utility officials in Texas gave preliminary approval to a $4.9 billion plan to build new transmission lines to carry wind-generated power from West Texas to urban areas such as Dallas, San Antonio and Houston. Texas is already the U.S. leader in wind power, generating about 5,000 megawatts. The plan would not directly build new turbines, but would add transmission lines capable of moving about 18,000 megawatts, enough to power more than 4 million Texas homes.
How would you react if you discovered that you were wearing clothing treated with a chemical that is regulated as hazardous waste? And that your guests were, too? How would they react if they knew? Would you tell them to make sure they knew? Do you already do so? When you send garments out to be dry cleaned—either for yourself, your staff or your guests—chances are great that those garments will be treated with a solvent called perchloroethylene, otherwise known as “PERC.” PERC is highly regulated as hazardous waste.
Independence Day in the United States is certainly a holiday worth celebrating. I hope my U.S. readers found time to celebrate it with their families and friends—and guests. I will never forget the excitement in our country back in 1976 during the Bicentennial. The celebration went on for months. Gasoline at that time was priced at a little more than a dollar a gallon. Even at that price, a large crowd of people gathered in Boston and threw packages labeled “Gulf Oil” and “Exxon” into Boston Harbor—kind of like the Boston Tea Party all over again, but not as effective.
Justifying investments in resource-saving products and technologies has gotten easier lately thanks to utility costs that just won’t stop increasing. If you are still on the fence, however, about spending money, you should check out a website run by the North Carolina Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council. The site, called DSIRE (Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency), is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility and federal incentives that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. A U.S. map on the DSIRE home page makes it easy to quickly locate incentive programs.
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