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What is the first thought some decision-makers have when approached about a green initiative or product for their hotel or restaurant? Higher costs of course. Every so often though, green initiatives or products turn out to be great for the bottom line because they are replacing older or more inefficient products or services. Phasing out traditional bottled water in favor of a greener alternative happens to be one of those instances when a restaurant or hotel can become more sustainable and increase their profits at the same time. Traditional bottled water is costly for exactly the same reasons it is environmentally destructive. Here’s why: Every liter of bottled water that lands on your customer’s table requires energy and fuel to manufacture the bottle, bottle the water, package the bottle, and ship the bottle.
Any new endeavor requires an element of change. And as we all know, change is hard. Even positive change is hard. But change is also a vital part of development, productivity, and—let’s face it—survival. As Andrew Carnegie once said, “Anything in life worth having is worth working for.” Businesses that lack the ability to adapt and grow will stagnate and decline. On an optimistic note, the changes we make do get easier (i.e. more natural) the more we practice doing them. It may not be easy, at first, to be green, but that fact in itself adds substance to your journey. Consider the disciplines of hotel management: Is revenue management easy? Is managing online reputation easy? Is expense control easy? I think most hotel managers will agree, these disciplines take work, but with experience they all do get easier. Managers will also agree that success in these areas requires continued attention and willingness to adapt.
I am a college student who worked for Xanterra Parks & Resorts at Yellowstone National Park in the summer of 2013. I was a room attendant for their housekeeping department—you know, the person who you ask for more towels or an extra roll of toilet paper? My fellow employees and I were all trained with a lecture by Dylan Hoffman, Director of Sustainability, on Xanterra’s green practices. In spite of this, during my day-to-day work I didn’t think too much about whether or not the procedures I followed were green—and if they were, why? Then, in January 2014, I came to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) as an intern. I discovered that Connecticut has a program which allows hotels and inns to become certified “CT Green Lodgings.”
The legendary rock band, Van Halen, famously refused to perform if the bowl of M&M’s in their dressing room had not had the brown M&M’s hand-picked out of the bowl. What many don’t know is that this wasn’t the pinnacle of selfishness by star performers, but instead a clever way to make use of a small indicator as a reflection of a much larger and more significant goal. The band’s manager was responsible for hundreds of specifications and technical aspects for each intricate performance—from the weight capacity of the loading dock to the tuning of the instruments and proper setup of the microphones. Quite frankly, checking everything was too much for one person to attend to before every show. As a result, the manager wisely devised the brown M&M’s as a test.
Employee volunteering has come a long way. What used to be a generally philanthropic, one-off activity is now increasingly being perceived as an opportunity for skills development. The most frequently quoted skills include communication, influencing and negotiating skills and project management. A report from YOUGOV states that, “Ninety-six percent of managers believe that workplace skills can be gained from volunteering. Fifty-seven percent of managers feel that skills gained from volunteering can help fill gaps in the workplace.” By taking part in the Youth Career Initiative (YCI) hotel staff take time to mentor vulnerable young people on a voluntary basis for 24 weeks. One hotel property where employees are very engaged in the program is the Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo.
The hospitality industry has a unique opportunity to identify an energy solution that achieves the diverse needs of hotels and resorts, while ensuring a standard of excellence in maintenance and operations of facilities, landscaping and lawn care, outdoor amenities, and transportation. That solution is propane, which provides a number of energy-efficient ways to manage your property’s utility bills while maintaining comfort and adding unique touches to suit your guests. The first impression of your property sets the tone for your guests’ stay. A beautifully maintained landscape is an important part of that image. Commercial mowers fueled by propane help maintain grounds efficiently while reducing emissions, which means cleaner air around your property.
The hotel/hospitality industry is a drought stakeholder. By this I mean the industry is more closely tied to water than it may realize. Hotels/motels consume huge amounts of water but, by taking proper steps, can save huge amounts of water as well. According to a study by the North Carolina Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance (NCDPPEA), hotels/motels use approximately 14,340 gallons of water daily per connection; in the study, 232 connections were surveyed, and total water usage of all these locations was more than 5 million gallons of water per year. Two persons sharing a guestroom with a private bath in a hotel/motel typically use about 60 gallons of water per day. Employees working in hotels/motels use about 230 gallons of water per day.
I want to alert hotel owners and operators about a new approach to finance upgrades without burning cash or using a bank loan. PACE (Property Assess Clean Energy) has been in development for years but is now ramping and the largest project to date is a Hilton hotel project. In November 2013, the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City financed $7 million of infrastructure improvement through PACE. The hotel estimates will reduce its utility bills by 50 percent with an improved guest experience. This article explains whether this is relevant to your business and how to get started. Hotels owners wanting to implement major facility upgrades in 2014 and 2015 will soon realize that there is an increased pressure from utilities, local and state governments to either encourage or mandate energy efficiency.
Hotels are big business, literally. In the United States alone, hotels comprise more than 5 billion square feet of space according to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and spend in excess of $7.5 billion on energy each year as cited by The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This translates to an average spend of nearly $2,200 per available room each year on energy by the more than 47,000 hotels and motels in America, which in turn accounts for around 6 percent of all domestic hotel operating costs. Given these realities, there exists within the hospitality industry both a significant opportunity to reduce environmental impact related to energy consumption, and a powerful financial incentive to do so. It is important that any changes result in a healthy, productive, comfortable environment for guests.
“We would offer more sustainable options if our planners were asking for them.” ”We would prefer a more sustainable option if we knew what our suppliers offered.” These are the two comments often made by suppliers and planners respectively, when asked about their sustainable business practices. And after years and years of hearing this response, the Green Meeting Industry Council has launched a change campaign focused on creating a solution to this seemingly gaping lapse of communication…simply, Ask For It! Ask For It is a call to action for stakeholders in our industry to ask for their suppliers and venues to be certified to the APEX/ASTM Environmentally Sustainable Meeting Standard specific to their sector. It is an empowerment tool for the planners.
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