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If your hotel advertised that it is so green that it no longer uses cleaning chemicals at all to clean guestrooms, do you think potential guests would make reservations years in advance? Not care if cleaning chemicals, green or otherwise, are used or not? Not even consider making a reservation in your hotel property? If your answer is the last—not even consider making a reservation in your hotel—you are probably not alone. The concept of chemical free cleaning, as it is called, is still very new; however, don’t be surprised if it becomes more and more common and prevalent in years to come. So, what is chemical free cleaning? It can have slightly different meanings depending on who is defining it. But, it essentially refers to cleaning methods, procedures, or systems that leave surfaces looking clean as well as removing or eliminating germs and bacteria.
As an industry, hotels have generally lagged behind the curve on sustainability but they are starting to catch up, especially in New York City, one of the world’s most popular destinations. Last November, the Hotel Association of New York City (HANYC) announced the winners of the very first HANYC Sustainability Awards, recognizing three NYC hotels as model examples of green hospitality and responsibility. In the process of reviewing and judging the pool of applicants, we gained a unique first-hand look behind the scenes at what many NYC hotels are doing. So how do NYC hotels fare? Here are ten things we learned: 1) Most hotels we reviewed had a green team in place. This is one of the building blocks of a successful sustainability program.
The hospitality industry has made great strides in embracing green cleaning and its positive impact on the environment, corporate profitability and customers. According to the Green Hotels Assn., the hospitality industry is increasing eco-friendly purchasing and operations, as such matters are increasingly important to guests. Notably, one important aspect of green cleaning that also impacts hotel guests is laundry care. With new technologies in commercial laundry programs, today’s hoteliers have more options than ever when it comes to their on-premise laundry. Cold water washing, in particular, is gaining momentum as it has been shown to be able to boost customer satisfaction, significantly benefit a company’s bottom line and make progress against corporate sustainability goals.
Vinyl or PVC materials have been a staple in hotel projects for many decades. Vinyl offers performance and a cost value that other materials found hard to match for a very long time. Unfortunately PVC based materials also present an environmental headache that many hotel owners, builders and designers want to avoid in the future. Of course many in the vinyl industry would argue otherwise including the Vinyl Institute which represents many of the film and chemical manufacturers. Leaving aside the science for a moment which is very compelling against chlorine chemistry; you need only observe the marketplace to see where the interiors furnishings industry is headed. Scores of manufacturers each month advertise their products in design magazines; with the tag line “PVC free” in promoting their own products.
At Greenbuild 2014 in New Orleans, Mahesh Ramanujam, the President of the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) said that the GBCI intends to broaden its mandate. Today, the GBCI is known for supporting the third party verification efforts for the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. But going forward, Ramanujam said the GBCI intends to host new third party environmental programs that will address third party certification of the following four concentrations of the built environment: energy efficiency, sustainable landscape, health and wellness, and financial markets. The rating systems for energy efficiency (LEED), sustainable landscape (SITES), and health and wellness (WELL) already have taken shape, but we are yet to see what is behind door number four.
When anyone in the hospitality industry considers ways to cut operational costs to save money, chances are the public restroom may not be the first area that comes to mind. However, a few simple changes in restroom fixtures can help to eliminate waste and reduce maintenance costs—all while keeping the restroom clean and sanitary for both customers and employees. Sanitation in the restroom is a major concern, especially during flu season, but cost is a top concern no matter what the season. Paper of every kind has become increasingly expensive over the past decade and typically people use more than they need to in public restrooms. In fact, on average, people use 2.5 paper towel sheets every time they dry their hands. So think about how many people use your restroom every day and multiply that number by 5 cents each. It’s an expense that can add up quickly.
NEW YORK—The common misconception that LEED is too hard and too expensive was dispelled a few weeks ago at the International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show in a panel entitled, “Gone Platinum! A First-Time Ever Gathering of Leaders of Three LEED Platinum Hotels.” The only three LEED Platinum certified hotels in the United States at this time (not including the one LEED Platinum hostel) were represented. The panel was truly the pinnacle of sustainably developed hotels in the United States, with Jim Treadway, General Manager at Bardessono (Yountville, Calif.), Lynee Sauer, Business Manager, Hotel Skyler (Syracuse, N.Y.) and Dennis W. Quaintance, CEO, Proximity Hotel (Greensboro, N.C.) discussing how and why they achieved this level of verified sustainable development.
More than 34 million tons of food waste are sent to landfills annually and the hospitality industry is a significant contributor. The recent trend of jurisdictions implementing food waste restrictions and bans is making sustainable alternatives no longer just a social responsibility; but a mandatory requirement. The good news is some successful back-of-the-house programs can help increase profitability and subsidize the front-of-the-house improvements. The hospitality industry consumes a large volume of food and beverage through in-house restaurants, catering, buffets, and guestroom services. In some cases, hotel guests have been known to produce approximately two pounds of food waste per night per person. Most of the large hotel brands are already taking sustainable actions regarding renewable energy and water conservation, but little attention has been directed towards the reduction of food waste until now.
In the last few years, we have seen a growing trend towards minimal decoration and a “less is more” focus, particularly during the recession. This was clearly based on a belief that money spent on office plants is wasted. The long standing lean philosophy, where it is argued that clean work surfaces create a better working environment, is dispelled unambiguously in a new paper published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, and authored by leading academics from the Universities of Exeter (U.K.), Cardiff (U.K.), Queensland (Australia) and Groningen (Netherlands). The study, which looks at both short and long term effects of plants in offices, clearly shows that plants offer more than aesthetic decoration and are, in fact, an important driver of wellbeing, productivity and concentration. A series of three experiments were undertaken.
When professional athletes find themselves in the “hot seat” due to some unfortunate incident, commentators never fail to mention that the situation is even more disturbing because it will have a negative impact on children and other sports fans. In fact, today more than ever, professional athletes are powerful celebrities, and what they say and do—good or bad—are widely reported. Of course, just as negative news about or by a professional sports leader can have widespread ramifications, so can positive actions. Consider, for instance, if American basketball star Kobe Bryant were to speak out about making a personal commitment to green and environmental issues and, further, encouraged the National Basketball Association to consider the environment in all its activities and venues? He has a lot of fans and a lot of fans that will be influenced about his concerns about the environment.
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