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Crunchy is the only word I can think of to describe the feel of the grass when I was in Tennessee over Labor Day weekend. Crunchy, yellow and brown. I had no idea how bad things had gotten in parts of the southeastern United States until viewing news reports in the past few weeks. The situation is extreme. Lake Lanier, the Atlanta area’s main source of water for 3 million people, could be empty in three to four months if it does not rain a lot soon.
After abnormally high temperatures the first part of October, there is most definitely a chill in the air here in Ohio. It won't be long before the first frost and the inevitable first snow. If your property is in an area of the country that will experience a significant temperature drop this winter, you need to pay attention. Why? Energy prices are on the rise again. In case you have not noticed, the price for a barrel of oil has been consistently above $80 lately. Gasoline prices have not shot up yet, but don't be surprised when they do.
When Hotel Terra opens later this year in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the linens on the beds of the 72-room, six-story eco-boutique property will be made from organic cotton. Even though the sheets and pillow cases will cost about 25 percent more than standard cotton linens, the Terra Resort Group, developer of the new hotel, will gladly pay the premium. Ashley Morgan, corporate director of sustainability for the company, says using organic cotton linens just makes sense.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend a presentation by Janine Benyus. For those of you not familiar with Janine, she is the author of “Biomicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature.” She is also president of the Biomimicry Institute, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to naturalize biomimicry in our culture by promoting the transfer of ideas, designs and strategies from biology to sustainable human systems design. Simply put, she advocates using nature’s designs—ones that have developed over billions of years—in the design of buildings and products.
There is a pretty good chance you are drinking coffee while reading this column. I am one of those rare individuals who has never had a cup of coffee. Never. That’s probably a good thing with the price of java rising faster than petroleum. Speaking of which, did you know that coffee is the world’s second most valuable traded commodity? Just behind petroleum? According to San Francisco-based Global Exchange, coffee is the United States’ largest food import.
I am excited to announce that Green Lodging News has added a new department to its website—Vendor Case Studies. The link to the page can be found on the left side of the site just below the second display ad and Sales & Marketing link. In this new department, industry suppliers will have the opportunity to publish success stories that explain how their products or services work and in what ways they can help a property operate more efficiently, reduce costs, increase profits and lower environmental impact.
I highly recommend reading a recent report released by the Missoula, Mont.-based Women’s Voices for the Earth (downloadable at the end of this column). The study, entitled “Household Hazards: Potential Hazards of Home Cleaning Products,” documents the hidden dangers in many of the cleaning products typically used in our homes and lodging facilities. The report should be a wake-up call to any property that has not yet transitioned to green cleaning products.
Whether you are in a leadership position in your organization or not, I highly recommend reading one of the best business books to come along in quite some time—Green to Gold—authored by Daniel C. Esty and Andrew S. Winston. Esty is Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy at Yale University and Winston is Director of Corporate Environmental Strategy at Yale. The two provide many examples of companies they call Wave Riders that have capitalized on the Green Wave rippling throughout the economy.
When first launching Green Lodging News a little more than a year ago, there were just two lodging properties in the United States that had received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)—the Marriott-managed University of Maryland University College Inn and Conference Center, Adelphi, Md., and the Len Foote Hike Inn in Dawsonville, Ga. Since then, three other U.S. properties have obtained LEED certification. Given that there are many hundreds of commercial buildings outside of lodging that have been LEED certified, it would appear that our industry has been late to the game, right?
It would not be fair to all of the good manufacturers in China to go into panic mode—compact fluorescents, as well as many other good products, are produced there—but the “Made in China” label is causing a lot of concern here in the United States. Almost every day there is a report about a new product recall. That’s what happens when there are insufficient safety regulations. Last week, Gilchrist & Soames, which supplies high-end toiletries to hotels, recalled its brand of toothpaste made in China. Why? Independent tests showed some samples of the toothpaste contained diethylene glycol (DEG). DEG is used as a coolant in automobiles.
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