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I suspect that Earth Day is every day for many of you but its official celebration date is Tuesday, April 22, and many in our industry are planning special events and promotions. A number of them are summarized in an article posted recently on the Green Lodging News site. Aqua Hospitality, for example, will celebrate Earth Day by supporting ocean preservation through both a volunteer cleanup and donation to Hui o Koolaupoko. Hyatt Place Raleigh-West and Southern States Management are hosting an Earth Day event to celebrate the hotel, as it is one of only a few U.S. Green Building Council LEED certified hotel options in the Raleigh (N.C.) area. On Earth Day, L’Auberge Del Mar guests will be provided with souvenir LED flashlights to encourage them to minimize use of lights in their guestrooms. Lights will also be dimmed throughout the property.
One of the most intriguing, cool, green hotels to come along in a while is going to open in Bogota, Colombia on May 15. The Biohotel Organic Suites is the creation of Samuel Huertas, an accountant and entrepreneur who told me his new seven-story, 72-room property is “my retirement plan.” With his family, Huertas actually owns 46 percent of the property with other “Bio Investors” owning the remainder. The Biohotel Organic Suites is the first hotel project for Huertas and is the result of five years of planning. The name alone certainly creates a certain level of expectations, doesn’t it? Aiming for LEED Gold certification, the hotel is quite impressive from a sustainability standpoint. I encourage you to visit the hotel’s website to see some of the images of the exterior and interior.
It was almost five years ago that I wrote about two guys—one based in Orlando (Shawn Seipler) and the other based in Houston (a friend of Shawn's)—who were astounded by the volume of partially used bars of soap and shampoo that were thrown away by inns, hotels and resorts. They were so inspired to do something about it that they got together and formed Clean the World, the nonprofit now known industrywide for its success in collecting and converting used soap bars into new bars fit for distribution to those in need. Clean the World also collects and distributes shampoos, conditioners, lotions and gels from participating hospitality partners and organizes the assembling and distribution of hygiene kits that include nine different items. Clean the World had a pretty good week last week.
The 2014 green events season is heating up. Do you know which events you will be attending in the coming months? In a little more than two weeks, the Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) will hold its annual conference in San Francisco (April 15 to 17 at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square). Participants in that conference will have an opportunity to see and experience the sustainability efforts of one of 12 different locations throughout the city. The host hotel, the W Hotel San Francisco, and the Fairmont San Francisco will be three of the tour options. At HD Expo, May 14 to 16 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, attendees will have a chance to participate in four Green Voice Conversations and another panel discussion—all focused on different aspects of sustainability. I will be moderating one of the Conversations.
What do Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Portugal, Greece, Luxembourg, and Iceland have in common? They are now all part of the territory in which lodging establishments can participate in TripAdvisor’s GreenLeaders program. TripAdvisor expanded its program beyond the United States this past week. For those of you not familiar with GreenLeaders, it is a green lodging recognition program that requires completion of a survey documenting green practices. Properties can earn one of four levels of recognition—Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum. The level of achievement, along with green practices, are shown prominently on the property’s listing on TripAdvisor.
In a previous position as an editor with IndustryWeek magazine I had an opportunity to visit some of the best manufacturing facilities in America. This past week I visited what has got to be one of the coolest ones. In case you missed it in last week’s newsletter, Harvest Power recently opened its Central Florida Energy Garden in Bay Lake, Fla. What the plant “manufactures” is energy and fertilizer from three different waste streams—food scraps; fats, oil and grease (FOG); and biosolids from an adjacent water treatment plant. Together, this “waste” is “digested” in an anaerobic digester with the resulting products being biogas (mostly methane) and solids useable as fertilizer. To get a sense of how the plant works you really need to visit it. Food waste is trucked in from various facilities including hotels and restaurants.
Last week I mentioned that I am putting together a page on my site called “Hotel & Management Company Green Pages.” I heard from a few of you with links to pages and I am pleased to announce that the page on my site is now up to 49 links. It is still very much a work in progress but there is now a prominent link to the page in the upper right area of the Green Lodging News website home page. There is also now a link on the left side of the weekly e-newsletter. Please be sure to visit the page and let me know those company pages that I have missed. I did hear from a few people this past week who wanted me to link to pages at individual property websites. At this time I am only interested in adding links to green pages (environment, CSR, etc.) for those companies that have multiple properties.
Some hotel companies make you dig through their website a bit to find the section dedicated to their environmental practices. Others make it easy to find. To get to Marriott’s environment page, for example, you need to first click on “Investors.” Would most folks know to do that? If you go to the home page for Wyndham Worldwide, right there in the middle of the top of the page is a “Corporate Responsibility” link that quickly gets you to the page you need. Choice Hotels International has a link to its Corporate Responsibility information at the bottom of its home page. You have to squint a bit to see it but it is definitely there. I am not trying to pick on companies or hold any up for an award for making it easy or not easy to access information on their environment-related practices.
I had a conversation by e-mail this past week with Lynn Mueller, president of International Wastewater Systems. Lynn’s company is doing some things that I suspect none of you are doing. If I am wrong, please correct me. What International Wastewater Systems is doing is recovering heat from the wastewater that leaves buildings—not just the greywater from laundry, showers, etc., but also the blackwater. Yes, believe it or not, energy can be pulled from the wastewater that is flushed down the toilet. I will be posting an article about what Lynn’s company is doing this coming week. Be sure to watch for it. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, roughly $40 billion worth of energy goes down the drain in the United States each year. Much of that is released from hotels.
I would have liked to have gotten into more depth with my article on state green lodging certification/recognition programs—I posted the article this past week—but things can get a little unwieldy when trying to chat with 27 people. Twenty-seven is the number of states with certification/recognition programs, down from 28 last year. For my article I asked for an update on the number of lodging participants in each state’s program, what changes were made to the program in 2013, and what changes are in store in 2014. Within the state programs I counted 2,605 properties that have earned official certification or recognition for their green efforts. I learned that some state programs are practically dormant or in a “set it and forget it” mode.
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