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For my last column of 2013 I took a look back at the more than 400 feature articles posted on the Green Lodging News website in 2013 in order to determine what I consider to be the top 10 news stories or developments. Coming up with a top 10 was not easy. So much happened in 2013, a very active year for green hospitality. The number one news story? It is TripAdvisor’s April launch of its GreenLeaders program. More than 2,000 lodging establishments are now participating. Expect that number to grow dramatically, especially once TripAdvisor expands GreenLeaders outside of the United States. The second most significant news announcement was MGM Resorts International and NRG Energy, Inc.’s announcement of the development of a 6.2-megawatt solar photovoltaic installation at the Mandalay Bay Resort Convention Center.
Caesars Entertainment Corp. recently released its 2012 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability report, “Vibrant Communities.” The report summarizes the impacts of Caesars on “people, society and the environment” during 2012 and the early part of 2013. For those of you not entirely familiar with Caesars, the company’s properties operate primarily under the Harrah’s, Caesars, and Horseshoe brand names. Unique to the report is its adherence to the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) G4 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines—guidelines released earlier this year. I read through the report and was impressed by the company’s accomplishments—especially its 8.5 percent reduction in electricity and gas consumption from 2007 through 2012. Key to the savings is aggressive investments in retrofits.
Sometime between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Tuesday, December 17, a North American Van Lines truck will pull up in front of our home in University Heights, Ohio. A crew will load up the truck for my family’s move to Tampa, Fla. After living my entire life in Ohio, I will be making the move south thanks to a new job opportunity for my wife. As I go, so too will go Green Lodging News. As of December 23, the address of our new office will be 7438 Gunn Hwy., Tampa, Fla. 33625. While my cell number will remain the same—(216) 702-0334—my office number will change to (813) 510-3868. Of course my e-mail will remain the same—firstname.lastname@example.org. While I am certainly looking forward to nicer weather, especially at this time of the year, I will miss family and friends here in Ohio.
Environment America recently released its report on America’s Dirtiest Power Plants. It is important reading because it is likely that your property’s electricity is generated by one of them. You can help address the problem by reducing your property’s draw of electricity and by pressuring your utility company to clean up their plants and transition to cleaner, renewable energy technologies. According to the report, power plants are the largest source of global warming pollution in the United States, responsible for 41 percent of the nation’s production of carbon dioxide pollution, the leading greenhouse gas driving global warming. The 50 most-polluting U.S. power plants emit more than 2 percent of the world’s energy-related carbon dioxide pollution—or more pollution than every nation except six worldwide.
If you are considering capital investments to increase the energy or water efficiency of your building, you need to pay attention to Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. I have met a couple of people recently specializing in PACE and just posted an article on the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City and how it used this type of financing to fund $7 million in upgrades in items ranging from LED lighting to HVAC systems. According to PACENow, PACE is an “innovative way to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to buildings. Interested property owners evaluate measures that achieve energy savings and receive 100 percent financing, repaid as a property tax assessment for up to 20 years. The assessment mechanism has been used nationwide for decades.
Do your homework. That is my recommendation before purchasing, leasing or renting a food waste decomposition machine. I just posted an article on the machines after chatting with representatives of seven system suppliers. Several other vendors are also mentioned in my article. I first wrote about the food waste decomposition machines five years ago. Since then a number of new suppliers have entered the market, some have disappeared, while several others have done quite well. There is no doubt the systems have become a highly effective and accepted way of either reducing huge volumes of food waste down to grey water for the drain or a compost mix for outdoor use. The two types of machines available (one producing grey water and one a dry compost) can have a huge upside.
The 98th annual International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show (IHMRS) and the fourth annual Boutique Design New York (BDNY) were held this past week at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City. I was happy to be part of an effort that resulted in a new Hospitality Green section of the IHMRS trade show floor, as well as five green panel discussions in the Hospitality Green area. A big thank you to ST Media Group International, manager of the show, for involving Green Lodging News, and to the Hospitality Association of New York City’s Sustainable Hospitality Committee for their assistance in planning the five panel discussions. If you were unable to attend the show this year, I strongly encourage you to check out the lists of exhibitors who were there.
Be skeptical of claims regarding a product’s ability to biodegrade quickly in a landfill. That is the takeaway from the Federal Trade Commission’s recent six enforcement actions against companies making false claims regarding biodegradability and recyclability. In one case, ECM Biofilms and two of its customers—shopping bag maker American Plastic Manufacturing and golf tee maker CHAMP—were caught making false claims regarding biodegradability of plastic products. ECM markets additives under the trade name MasterBatch Pellets. These are supposed to make plastic products biodegradable. ECM allegedly claimed, for example, that “plastic products made with [its] additives will break down in approximately nine months to five years in nearly all landfills....”
A soap dispenser, faucet, sink and hand dryer—all in one unit. A water based towel that has been proven to be twice as effective as hand sanitizers in removing viruses from hands. Electric vehicle charging stations. An electric powered passenger van. Food waste decomposition machines. Food packaging made from 100 percent biodegradable and compostable material. A mattress company with its own mattress take-back program. These are just a few samples of products and programs from a long list of what I consider to be green suppliers that will be exhibiting at the International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show (IHMRS). The 98th annual event is coming up very quickly—November 9 to 12 at the Javits Center in New York City. I have attended almost every New York hotel show since 1989.
In the coming week I will be chatting with a representative of the U.S. Green Building Council regarding LEED v4, the new version of LEED that will be introduced at Greenbuild in Philadelphia beginning November 20. Be sure to watch for the article. LEED v4, which came together after USGBC received more than 21,500 comments, is set to include LEED Hospitality-New Construction, LEED Hospitality-Existing Buildings, and LEED Hospitality-Commercial Interiors rating systems. It had been a long time since I received an updated list of LEED certified hotel projects but I received such a list this past week. I often receive requests for this list. If you would like to receive it, shoot me an e-mail at email@example.com. There are now 235 LEED certified lodging/hotel projects, and another 1,381 LEED registered hotel/lodging projects.
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