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Eight months ago Governor Jerry Brown declared the drought in California a “State of Emergency” and asked Californians to reduce their daily water consumption by 20 percent. Six months later the California Hotel & Lodging Assn. debuted a “California Water Resources” page on its website to help hoteliers in California link to water conservation ideas and rebates and incentives that make it easier to invest in efficient fixtures and other water-conserving items. (One example: In San Diego County, the SoCal Water$mart Program provides commercial customers with $100 per toilet rebates for replacing select older, inefficient toilets with new 1.28 gpf toilets that can reduce water use by 20 percent.) The California Hotel & Lodging Assn. did a great job putting together its page. This past week I posted an article about the drought and what several hoteliers in California are doing to address it. Be sure to read it.
What impact is climate change having on tourism in your state? Do you know the science behind it? The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) cares enough about the issue that it recently partnered with the University of Hawaii to produce a report entitled, “Climate Change Impacts in Hawaii: A summary of climate change and its impacts to Hawaii’s ecosystems and communities.” The report addresses such questions as, “What does climate change look like?” and “What is the current state of scientific knowledge regarding climate change globally, and how does it relate to Hawaii specifically?” “HTA is a knowledge-based organization and we believe it’s important to be informed about Hawaii’s environment as it relates to tourism,” said HTA President and CEO Mike McCartney. “We will use this study to help guide us in how we address our environmental initiatives.” I recommend reading through the report.
Assuming the project gets the approval of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in the next few weeks and is not appealed by voters in November, Mohegan Sun Massachusetts could end up being one of the greenest construction projects in U.S. lodging history. To be located at Suffolk Downs in Revere, Mass., the $1.3 billion destination resort will include a main casino hotel and boutique hotel totaling 500 rooms and over 170,000 square feet of casino floor space and 5,000 gaming positions. Gary Luderitz, V.P. of Operations & Development for Mohegan Gaming Advisors, told me this past week that the project will at least earn LEED Gold. “We will be shooting for [LEED] Platinum,” he says. Mohegan Sun Massachusetts, developed by the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, will create 2,500 construction jobs and 4,000 permanent jobs. There is a commitment to hire 75 percent of the workforce from within a 15-mile radius of Revere.
Marriott International just released its 2014 Sustainability Report. It is the third time Marriott has issued a Sustainability Report using guidelines established by the Global Reporting Initiative. One can either read it as a whole or select from a series of Issue Reports in areas such as Environmental Performance, Community Engagement, and Ethics and Human Rights. This new approach, according to Denise Naguib, Marriott’s Vice President of Sustainability and Supplier Diversity, makes the report a lot more readable. “The graphical changes are also much more appealing,” she told me in an interview this past week. There is much to pay attention to in the report. Marriott is still on pace to achieve a 20 percent reduction in energy and water intensity by 2020 (baseline year 2007). So far Marriott has reduced water intensity by 13 percent, energy intensity by 11 percent, and greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 12 percent.
With the summer winding down it is time to make your reservations to attend this fall’s green conferences and trade shows. The first event on the calendar is the Mid-Atlantic Green Hospitality Conference from September 15 to 16 at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino in Dover, Del. The itinerary for the inaugural conference is still being assembled but many of the details can be found by clicking here. Highlights include a farm-to-fork dinner and many educational and networking opportunities with industry peers and suppliers. The Lodging Green + Sustainability Conference & Expo is set for October 28 to 30 at Aria Las Vegas. This will be the second year for the event and is once again being organized by Lodging Magazine. Assisting this year will be EcoGreenHotel, NEWH Green Voice, and Green Lodging News. Almost 50 speakers will present on topics ranging from waste management to corporate responsibility. There are three tracks for educational sessions: design, finance, and engineering.
Touché! That’s what came to mind when reading Airbnb’s recent press release touting the reduced environmental footprint of the travelers booking places to stay through its website. According to the San Francisco-based company, which says more than 17 million travelers have used its website since its founding in 2008, in North America, Airbnb guests use 63 percent less energy than hotel guests. I was a bit taken aback that Airbnb, with its research partner, Cleantech Group, had actually thrown out a specific number like 63 percent. But hey, what do I know? Airbnb and Cleantech Group came to their conclusion after analyzing more than 8,000 survey responses from Airbnb hosts and guests worldwide and conducted research on residential and hotel sustainability levels and practices. Cleantech Group compared residences to the most sustainable and energy-efficient hotels.
For quite some time, hotel investors and others have been trying to determine whether or not spending money on smart “green” building and efficiency can lead to a higher average daily rate (ADR) and more revenue per available room (RevPAR). This discussion has particularly taken place when involving hotels that have been put through the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification process. Is it really worth the time and money to get a building LEED certified? From an efficiency standpoint there is no doubt that it is but what about from an ADR or RevPAR standpoint? Some researchers at Cornell University have finally taken the time to find out. A new study has found that hotels do gain a revenue benefit when they are certified under the LEED program—and a substantial one at that.
In doing research for a feature article on multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) this past week, I spoke with two experts, each of whom expressed significant concerns about being quoted in Green Lodging News. Talking about products with chemicals that trigger health problems is apparently risky business. Chemical companies, eager to protect their own interests, have large legal teams and must watch the Internet closely. My goal in my research is to identify what hoteliers are doing wrong that causes issues for folks with MCS, and what they can do better to make their properties safer havens. Briefly, MCS involves severe sensitivity or allergy-like reaction to many different kinds of pollutants including solvents, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), perfumes, petrol, diesel, smoke, “chemicals” in general and often encompasses problems with regard to pollen, dust mites, and pet fur and pet dander.
The just released Orlando Destination Sustainability Report is proof that a destination’s green story—from the airport to the rental car to the hotel and beyond—can successfully be condensed into a document of great value to all travel stakeholders. The report should be considered a best practice to emulate by your city. The report was commissioned by Green Destination Orlando (GDO) and is a co-production of GDO, Greenview and the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management, along with 40 to 50 community volunteers. A lot of work was also put into the report by city and county officials. “This is an attempt to define what our baseline is,” said Dina Belon-Sayre, President, Green Destination Orlando. “It is a way to engage and excite the community around sustainability. A way to show other cities they can do this type of reporting.” Dina told me the idea for the report was hatched last fall.
It is hard to believe but it was eight years ago this week that Green Lodging News went “live.” As I celebrate eight years of reporting on the green side of lodging, I have to thank all of the many thousands of you who have faithfully followed my publication during that time—whether through the website, weekly e-newsletter, Facebook or Twitter. A big thank you also goes out to the many suppliers who have supported Green Lodging News. Those partnerships have been invaluable. Be sure to support those vendors with your business. The Green Lodging News site, during its first month of publication in July 2006, attracted fewer than 4,000 different visitors. Today, the site consistently has between 25,000 and 28,000 unique visitors each month. Green lodging has come a long way in the last eight years. Early on I remember ruffling feathers by simply suggesting that lodging establishments eliminate on-site smoking.
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