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When you shop at the grocery store, the products you buy include labels that detail ingredients and nutritional value. If you are building or renovating your lodging establishment, however, there is a good chance you will never know what chemicals are in the building materials that you buy. Why is it important to know? There is a long list of chemicals that are known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. These are commonly found in building materials currently on the market. To make it easier for designers, architects and others to know which chemicals to avoid, Peter Syrett and his colleague Chris Youseff recently created the Perkins+Will Precautionary List.
One way to reduce costs related to waste removal while keeping waste out of the local landfill is to give away items to those people in need. In the lodging industry “waste” can include food, toiletries, partially used rolls of toilet paper, or guestroom furnishings. Finding the right agency to donate items to can be a challenge. To save time and labor, it has got to be an organization willing to pick up the items. It has also got to be an organization that can be trusted—one that will actually deliver the items to those in need.
The opening of CityCenter in Las Vegas and a soon-to-be released study that will appear in The American Journal of Industrial Medicine highlight the importance of safety in the workplace. As reported in the Las Vegas Sun, during the construction of CityCenter, which just saw its first three buildings open, six construction workers were killed. And, according to The American Journal of Industrial Medicine study, women—especially Hispanic women who work as housekeepers—were 50 percent more likely to be injured on the job than men and had an injury rate two-thirds higher than their white female counterparts.
I need your help for a future column. I am curious to know if your property or restaurant has ever had its rating affected negatively in any way by a AAA or Mobil inspector because of one of your energy-, water-, or waste-saving initiatives. The purpose of my query is not to accumulate ammunition to shoot at AAA, or Forbes (which publishes the guides in which hotels are Mobil rated) but to come up with a list of suggestions for improvement if such a list is needed.
How far would you go to tell your company or property’s sustainability story? Would you write and publish a book? That is exactly what Six Senses Resorts & Spas has done with its new “SLOW LIFE” book authored by Kate O’Brien. The book was officially introduced at a publicity event earlier this month in New York City. I highly recommend checking out this new book that is printed on 100 percent recycled paper using soy-based inks. The words “SLOW” and “LIFE” are acronyms for “Sustainable-Local-Organic-Wholesome” and “Learning-Inspiring-Fun-Experiences.”
Last week was one of the biggest weeks of the year for our industry with the International Hotel/Motel & Restaurant Show in New York City. That event was followed by Greenbuild in Phoenix. I attended IH/M&RS in New York City but had to miss Greenbuild this year after attending in Chicago in 2007 and in Boston in 2008. As it turned out, I missed the biggest lodging news announcement of the week: Marriott International announcing at Greenbuild that it will expand its green hotel portfolio by ten-fold over the next five years.
In just the last six weeks, five states and one city have launched comprehensive green lodging certification programs. I am excited for New York, Oklahoma, Indiana, South Carolina, Maryland, and Buffalo, N.Y. Congratulations to all of those who have worked so hard to put together these programs. According to my count, there are now 23 states and three cities that offer some type of formalized assistance to those interested in greening up their lodging operations. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation got the ball rolling with its announcement in late September about that state’s certification program.
I will be attending the upcoming International Hotel/Motel & Restaurant Show (IH/M&RS). As always, am looking forward to it. The event will be held at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center November 7 to 10. The Hospitality Leadership Forum—a full day conference for senior level hospitality executives—will be held on Saturday, November 7. It will be followed by the annual trade show from Sunday, November 8 through Tuesday, November 10. I spoke to one vendor recently who believes trade shows are a dying breed—set to be replaced by smaller events that pair up vendors by appointment with potential buyers (BITAC comes to mind).
Before developing a LEED property or any kind of resource-efficient lodging structure—whether new or renovation—I strongly recommend visiting several successful existing “green” buildings first. I encourage this no matter what size structure you are pursuing—a mega-hotel or B&B. It is critical that you learn the money-saving lessons that others have learned. In most cases, architects, designers, sales staff and general managers are more than happy to provide a tour (try to always have the architect or designer along).
To verify green operations in existing buildings, numerous certification programs are available to owners of lodging establishments. I have written about most of them over the past few years. For new construction, the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification system has become the gold standard. LEED provides third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance. Platinum is the highest level of certification, followed by Gold, Silver and Certified. When first launching Green Lodging News in mid-2006, there were just a few hotel properties LEED certified.
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