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It’s easy finding ways to be green when you are at home and sticking to your usual routine. When you head out on holidays, whether it’s driving to the seaside or taking a further trip abroad, it can be a challenge to contain your carbon footprint. After all, you should be sampling the local fare, treating yourself to a spa treatment, room service and visiting the local attractions to truly immerse yourself in your holiday experience. So what steps can you take to help reduce the impact of all your activities while still enjoying all of the fun? Start by getting your own home ready for you to be away. Turn off all power at the source. Cancel your newspaper, cleaner and any regular food deliveries to avoid waste. If you are flying to your destination, opt in to the airline carrier’s carbon offset scheme.
With rising stress on water resources and the competing needs of businesses and communities, effective water resource management is crucial to a business’s ability and licence to operate, and the hotel sector is no exception. Yet, despite all we hear on water crises, how many businesses are factoring this information into their forward planning? While perhaps not on the same scale as industry, it takes a lot of water to provide the standard which customers have come to expect in servicing guestrooms, laundries, gardens and food and beverage operations. According to a forthcoming report from EC3 Global and Griffith University, the average Hong Kong hotel uses 102 gallons of water per guest night. If a hotel has a pool or spa, this increases on average by a total of 33 percent.
With the majority of Americans now at least concerned or cautious about climate change and the increased storms, fire, and drought mucking up travel and commerce, carbon is turning more serious. Carbon is quickly becoming currency, and you should start treating it as such, especially if you are currently paying large sums to offset carbon emissions from your business, your travel, or your events. When traveling abroad, people are often zealous about getting the best exchange rate for their money so they can save a few dollars. Yet when someone exchanges their carbon emissions for an offset, they don’t seem to be as attentive to notice that underneath they could be paying a few dollars more than necessary to offset their trip, negating the currency exchange savings altogether.
Companies in every industry are identifying ways to reduce the costs, energy use, and carbon footprint of their operations. However, an elite few are broadening their scope by quantifying the downstream environmental impact of their products to more holistically address their actual environmental footprint. For instance, Apple recently published their carbon footprint using a “comprehensive lifecycle analysis,” which estimated the lifetime energy use by all of their products, above and beyond the emissions from their manufacturing facilities. Apple calculated 22 billion pounds per year of carbon dioxide equivalents. This begs the question: Is it possible that other industries could make a similar effort to address their downstream environmental impacts?
Since re-launching our Sustainability practice in late 2011, HVS has contended that sustainability initiatives should focus on utility efficiency and be driven by the bottom line. We believe that a valid business case exists for numerous types of investments in building equipment and enhanced operating practices, and across the hospitality sector there are literally thousands of good projects with strong return on investment that are waiting to be undertaken. While we have observed a growing number of case studies that describe the cost and savings of various building equipment upgrades, it would be remiss to have a conversation about investment without some consideration of risk. This article provides a perspective on several key areas of risk.
When it comes to greening carpet cleaning, many hotel and hospitality facilities that have taken significant steps to implement green cleaning strategies tend to overlook a key environmental concern. What’s happening? Are they using environmentally preferable carpet care chemicals, spotters, and related products? In most cases, yes. Are they employing high-performance carpet extractors to more effectively remove moisture from carpets, helping to reduce drying times and prevent the growth of mold, mildew, and other contaminants? Again, in most cases, yes. To conserve water and use it more efficiently, are some properties using carpet extractors that recycle water and solution? Are they taking steps to ensure the wastewater generated as a result of cleaning carpets is properly disposed of?
The most effective way to set up viable recycling programs is using a method that I call parallel access. Recycling bins for most commonly-discarded materials should be located next to but be visibly different than the trash bins. The decision the guest makes of whether or not to participate in the recycling program should only take a fraction of an instant and the effort required to do so shouldn’t take much longer. For example, if your guest has a trash bin in their room, but has to walk down the hallway to get to a recycling bin, that is going to limit the number of people who participate in your program. Conversely, if it takes the same effort to recycle as it would have to throw something into the trash, more of the guests staying at your property will recycle more often.
Did you know that an average household will spend approximately 40 percent of their annual budget on heating and cooling costs? Did you know that windows are responsible for as much as 30 percent of the total cooling loads in a commercial building? Both of these facts come from the Department of Energy. The question is what product can reduce your energy costs and pay for itself in a relatively short period of time? Window Film. You may have heard of it but have you incorporated window film into your energy conservation plan? Window films work around the clock 7/24, 365 days a year. From the moment you install the product, your company will immediately start benefitting. Your window treatments do not need to be closed in order for window film to work.
As someone who’s been in the laundry equipment business for more than 30 years, I can say without any doubt, that these are the most exciting times I’ve experienced. Technology in this industry has progressed to a level where it’s no longer just about throughput. Programmability and engineering have made the machines immensely important management tools. Automatic weighing systems are now adjusting water fill levels and chemical dosing to match the loads. Residual moisture technology can continually measure the dryness level of the load and step down the heat, before shutting the tumbler off when the preset moisture level has been attained. Exciting engineering, indeed. However, what I think I’m most enthused about is the changing mindset within the hospitality industry.
For the hospitality industry, managing the infrastructure of buildings, facilities and equipment is critical to the operational success of the hotel. At the same time, the hotel must comply with strict quality and safety guidelines, along with the many service level standards to meet the needs of their most valuable assets—their guests. A property can easily focus on top-line growth for revenue management, distribution strategies and creating profitability via customer loyalty, but sustainability is intrinsically difficult to quantify. And, even though sustainability typically touches nearly all aspects of hotel enterprise ownership and management, aligning environmental, social and financial factors to promote responsible business operations over time can be daunting for staff.
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