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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.
The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation and Smith Travel Research just released the results of their comprehensive 2008 Lodging Survey. The number of questions asked and the number of hoteliers responding was impressive. A total of 45,000 hotels were polled and 23 percent responded (10,350). The survey was last conducted in 2006. This year’s survey included more questions related to green operations. Hoteliers were asked if they participate in or offer the following: liquid soap dispensers, recycling programs, linen/towel reuse programs, energy efficient lighting, water saving programs, nonsmoking rooms, allergy-free rooms, air purifiers, and vegetarian menus.
The Hilton Vancouver, Washington likes being a ground breaker. It was the first Hilton hotel to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, one of the first hotels in the entire country to do so, and just announced that it has also obtained Green Seal certification. While LEED certification recognized the hotel’s efforts in areas such as sustainable site development, building materials selection, indoor environmental quality, water savings and energy efficiency, it did not provide a roadmap for improving ongoing operations in areas such as waste management, cleaning and maintenance, and purchasing.
The past few weeks were ones the travel industry could do without. One by one, the major airlines announced cutbacks in flight volume and increases in fares—and for good reason. The average price for a gallon of jet fuel climbed to $3.21, up from 33 cents a gallon 10 years ago. The cost of refining a gallon of jet fuel is up sixfold since 2000. Jet fuel costs now make up 30 percent to 50 percent of an airline’s operating costs. Many of the smaller airlines have been forced to shut down (24 in the last six months) and United has discontinued Ted, its low-fare airline. Continental just announced it will eliminate 3,000 jobs and reduce flight volume by 16 percent.
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.
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