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Food waste continues to be a global crisis. Globally, an estimated 133 billion pounds of food ends up in landfills every year, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming while negatively impacting valuable natural resources such as land and water. As the earth’s population continues to grow toward nine billion people by the year 2050, we continue to place an enormous burden on our natural resources and our environment while struggling to feed a growing population. In the United States alone, food waste makes up a staggering amount of landfilled waste. Thirty-four million tons of food waste is sent to landfills every year. To put that number into perspective, that’s over 200 pounds of food waste per person in the United States, every single year. As greenhouse gasses and global warming continue to become bigger problems in today’s world of globalized industry, new ideas and technologies are needed to deal with this ongoing environmental crisis. Managing waste more responsibly is an effective way to have a meaningful impact.
In today’s marketplace, there is a plethora of product certifications, labels and declarations that manufacturers and builders use to communicate a product’s value to clients. However, owners, product specifiers and building occupants all have different interests and motivations. Just as each person’s background and experience varies, so do their beliefs when it comes to sustainability. The good news? Studies show we are all becoming more aware of and concerned with issues surrounding social and environmental health and sustainability. Making use of product labels, including declarations and certifications, is one way to make more informed choices; however, deciphering the claims behind the label can be challenging. So where to start? Everyone is interested in obtaining the most healthy and environmentally friendly products, but the criteria used to achieve these lofty goals must be defined and measured before any manufacturer or specific product can truthfully make these proclamations. Should a product be climate neutral or contain no volatile organic compounds (VOCs)?
Sometimes it’s great to feel like a zero. OK, maybe only when it concerns your hotel’s amenity waste program. Pursuing zero waste is a smart strategy for a hotel staff’s ability to significantly reduce the property’s carbon footprint, while reducing both waste and cost. Plus, guests are finding these programs make them happier and increase satisfaction during their property visit. Today’s consumer has a deep desire for an emotional connection with brands, and environmental transparency builds on the travel experience, increasing brand affinity. It all adds up to higher guest satisfaction scores, a more loyal customer base and less resistance to rising rates. Even more encouraging is that putting together a customer pleasing zero waste amenity program is easier than ever, taking minimal effort and time from property team members. Here’s how you can do it in a few simple steps. Today, people demand that the brands they do business with be ethical. That’s giving hoteliers seeking to be good corporate citizens a business reason to use products reflecting their customer’s personal value system.
Hospitality interiors are a shining example of the intersection of form and function. Hotel suites encourage rest; restaurants and storefronts entice indulgence; meeting and event rooms inspire interaction. But these high-traffic commercial spaces are more than “pretty spaces”—they must be as durable as they are eye-catching. Interior finishes, such as wallcoverings, serve both purposes, and continue to evolve to meet aesthetic, performance and sustainability needs. If color and design trends didn’t shift regularly, commercial wallcoverings could be installed for decades in such spaces. But color and design, as it turns out, aren’t the only shifting trends in wallcoverings. For good reason, the interior design industry—and particularly the hospitality sector—puts much more emphasis on health and environment. This focus on sustainability isn’t new to wallcoverings, which has experienced some mighty shifts over the last several decades. Immediately following its first introduction to the marketplace in the 1970s, engineers of Type II vinyl wallcovering began seeking ways to improve upon the product’s success.
World Water Day will take place this week (March 22). It is a United Nations program which reminds us of our responsibilities to protect this vital—and limited—resource. Hotels (and their guests) are high water consumers and it is time for them to get more proactive on their water stewardship. Ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for everyone on the planet is one of the new SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) which governments and businesses are being asked to implement through combined action. With hotels often sited in exotic locations and water-scarce areas, it’s particularly important that hotel companies also do their bit to ensure water security for everyone. Hotels are generally big water consumers. With pools, golf courses and landscaping all adding to the guest experience—no matter whether the surrounding landscape is arid desert or no—water responsibility is a risk factor. When ITP (the International Tourism Partnership) conducted a survey of more than 200 stakeholders for an event in 2014, water was identified as the highest ranking issue of concern.
All our actions have a direct and indirect impact on climate change. Both consumers and businesses are actively trying to reduce their carbon footprint and one of the resulting benefits is reduced energy costs. Energy conservation is a win-win for everyone. Consumers are turning to technology to help monitor and save on utility savings. According to an article in Clean Technica, a new report by Navigant Research on the residential energy app market found that residential customers are more and more turning to energy-focused apps to make better use of their household energy usage. Apps provided by utilities, as well as vendors for energy-related hardware such as Nest, ecobee, Honeywell, and others, are all contributing to a rise in energy use awareness, which Navigant believes has saved users of such apps an average of 6 percent to 8 percent on their energy bills. Energy represents 7 to 10 percent of commercial laundry operational costs and is rising.
Yogurt containers have a label listing nutritional value, cars have a label listing miles per gallon, and refrigerators have a label listing their energy usage. Why not buildings? Fourteen cities have decided that they should by requiring commercial building owners to benchmark and disclose (B&D) their buildings’ energy usage. Benchmarking measures and compares energy efficiency between similar buildings using standardized metrics. Cities are banking that B&D will push the market toward increasingly efficient buildings by making a property’s utility data readily available to sellers, lessors, buyers, lenders and investors. The fourteen B&D programs throughout the United States share many of the same requirements. Building owners have to submit monthly electric and gas bills along with key building characteristics—square footage, operating hours, year built, etc. Some programs also require water usage data, in acknowledgment of the energy embedded in water resulting from pumping.
More than any other large properties, hotels and resorts can take advantage of the great benefits offered by LED lighting because these facilities have a fixed operating cost for heating/cooling and lighting in all their common areas. While the facility may not always be operating at full occupancy, all the lighting in their lobbies, hallways and other common areas are operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This makes these areas the best place to start either a retrofit or new installation project, as the Return on Investment (ROI) offers the quickest payback. An LED lamp or fixture will last 50,000 hours—that’s more than five years operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week before it requires changing. On the other hand, an incandescent lamp may only run 2,000 hours, which is less than two months operating 24/7. This means the incandescent lamps would need to be changed at least 24 times in the same five years as the LEDs. It’s not difficult to see why the LED alternatives offer a very good ROI.
When I established Impact Enterprises, Inc.’s environmental initiative in 2003, the word “environment” invoked a particular meaning; the physical world around us, nature. It did not include people. People, however, are central to our environment, and as such deserve protection and help as do our forests, rivers, lakes, and air. As Impact expanded its environmental initiative, it began to see the unfair challenges so many are confronted with on a daily basis. When possible, we as a community, as individuals, or as a company cannot in good faith turn a blind eye to these unfair challenges. In 2010, in collaboration with Lt. Chris Salisbury USMC Foundation,* Impact expanded its corporate responsibility program to include assistance to our seriously wounded soldiers and homeless veterans, many of whom have had their emotional strength shattered by combat experiences. Our program began with contributions to respected military charitable organizations, and soon grew into providing support to those in need.
As energy costs continue to rise and building codes become more rigorous, lodging facility professionals are searching for higher-performing building envelope assemblies. One such system, structural insulated panels (SIPS), helps reduce energy consumption up to 60 percent compared to other structural systems, while providing a host of other construction and operations benefits. SIPs are a prefabricated, engineered building system typically used for walls and roofs. They are composed of structural-grade wood panels such as oriented strand board (OSB) laminated to both sides of a rigid insulating foam core like expanded polystyrene (EPS). The system provides both structural strength and thermal insulation. Architects can incorporate SIPs into virtually any building design up to four stories tall, from modern to rustic, making them well suited for lodges, motels and other lodging facilities in both urban and rural settings.
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