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As lodging facility owners know, well-designed and maintained outdoor spaces are important amenities that help create favorable guest experiences. Exterior areas for relaxation, play and fresh air can provide guests with some of their best memories of your property. Within these spaces, decked areas often figure prominently. While many decks, patios, boardwalks, pool and hot tub surrounds and docks traditionally used wood surfacing, wood-plastic composite decking is an increasingly attractive alternative. Such materials provide durability and safety features that are suited for the high-use environments of many lodging facilities, and offer great looks and support of green building goals. When selecting among decking materials for new construction or replacements, following are some considerations to keep in mind.
In the wake of the “green” explosion, eco-friendly products and services are now just as important to the sustainability of a business as they are to the environment. Concern over global warming and resource depletion is increasingly influencing consumer behavior, and the hospitality industry is no exception. More than 90 percent of U.S. travelers surveyed by the online travel publisher TravelZoo said they would choose a green hotel over non-green hotels comparable in price. As such, green strategies such as biodegradable bathroom amenities and linen reuse programs have become commonplace at properties across the country. Increasingly, however, pressure from sustainability-savvy consumers and a competitive marketplace are driving hoteliers to seek out products and services that are the “greenest of them all.”
The spring recruitment season has arrived, to be followed by the handing out of many hospitality and tourism degrees in the coming months (myself included, eager to receive my M.S. in Tourism Management degree). And of course as soon-to-graduate hospitality students you are hoping for spring’s bloom to come with a job offer. The first challenge is navigating those networking events and tough interviews. Then comes fitting into the organization and its culture. One promising aspect of new graduates entering the workforce is the increased interest and passion for sustainability. Or at least sufficient awareness exists to ask the interviewer about it in order to hear back an affirmation of “that’s a great question.” In either case, knowing the terms and their background concepts well will put you at an advantage.
When it comes to many of the more general cleaning tasks that hotel housekeepers perform every day, transferring to a green cleaning system may be as easy as simply selecting environmentally preferable cleaning products. While housekeepers may also need to be trained on how to use the green products, for the most part using many green cleaning chemicals is not that much different from using conventional products…it’s just that the green ones are healthier. However, that is not necessarily true when it comes to floor care. Although great strides have been made in developing green floor care chemicals such as strippers, finishes, scrubbing agents, etc., some housekeepers and other cleaning professionals claim many of these products are still not up to performance par as the conventional ones.
The United States and much of the world, for that matter, have had so many pressing issues to deal with that one—possibly the most important one—keeps getting pushed under the carpet, so to speak. That is water. It’s a green issue, a life issue, a business issue—an issue that will impact hotels and hospitality facilities throughout the world and one we are all going to have to deal with eventually. Consider the following: According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a U.S. think tank, water is a growing concern that is set to become the world economy’s single most pressing resource crisis (emphasis added) in years to come. That’s right: it is not oil, not food, but water. The U.S. EPA predicts that at least 36 states will face water shortages within five years.
During the past several years, we have all witnessed the incredible growth of green building projects. At times, it seems that that the number of buildings establishing green initiatives is expanding almost exponentially. Building owners and developers are seeing that introducing green practices not only results in a positive environmental impact but also cost savings and marketing advantages. Certainly the hospitality industry has joined the surge to achieve the greenest possible profile. The purpose of this column is to demonstrate how one mid-sized hotel without a large staff—the Holiday Inn Grand Rapids Downtown in Michigan—was able to achieve its green goals through the cost-effective use of an outside consultant.
Indoor air quality (IAQ) is a tough sell for many architects, designers, building owners, and facility managers. At first glance, maintaining good IAQ has no immediate ROI and appears a pointless expense. Green building certification criteria typically allocate only one credit for new construction or commercial interiors. That is a lot of work and money for something that does not show an immediate impact on the bottom line! Another serious challenge is the lack of preliminary planning for earning an IAQ credit, such as LEED IEQ Credit 3.2, Construction Indoor Air Quality Management Plan—Before Occupancy. This ultimately leads to increased costs and even further frustration when a planning attempt is made late in the project.
Ecotourism and Sustainability are undeniably connected, but we often look at ecotourism as interacting with nature only, but it really encompasses the full spectrum of sustainability as well. The fastest growing segment of the hospitality consumer is the ecotourist. Consider the statistic that 19 percent of the U.S. population is considered a LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) consumer. They are dedicated to personal and planetary health. Not only do they make environmentally friendly purchases, they also take action—they buy green products, support advocacy programs and are active stewards of the environment, according to NMI (the Natural Marketing Institute).
The other day, I listened to an economist from Cleveland, Ohio speak about how the recession is over. He indicated that it would take us a couple of years to recover—so it would still feel a little like a recession in some ways. I found this rather interesting and started thinking about how green consumers feel coming out of the recession. What do they expect from companies offering green products and services? Has their viewpoint changed from when we were in a recession? There have been some mixed views on this and much talk about green fatigue setting in. Are consumers tiring of green messaging on products and services, or are we mistakenly throwing all consumers into one pot when each consumer group thinks differently?
Not long ago, energy management was a fairly simple affair for hotel managers. Bills arrived, were promptly paid, the lights stayed on, and the guests stayed happy. Unfortunately, those days are over. With energy demand trending to new heights, an aging transmission system, concerns over unpredictable prices, and increasing pressure to meet corporate sustainability goals, suddenly energy management has been thrust to the forefront of long-term planning. In the face of an economy that’s still lagging, hotel managers are looking for new ways to mitigate energy-related risks and get the most out of every dollar, while still delivering first-class service.
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