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“In a world of disposable beds, it is remarkable how difficult it has been to get folks to buy sustainable beds.” So said Tony Hochschild, President of Sterling Sleep Systems, during my interview with him for my article on greener mattress systems. While I am certainly no expert on mattresses, Tony’s statement does not surprise me. It has got to be a challenge to compete against Serta, Simmons and Sealy. Not to put down those three companies—they are doing some good things in operations, materials and recycling—but it is certainly a David against Goliath world out there. My challenge to you is to consider all available options out there. My article mentions almost 20 companies and I know there are many I did not mention. There are some very sustainable mattress systems from which to choose. Some are very cost competitive.
I am in the early stages of conducting some interviews for an article on mattresses and would love to get some of your input on the topic. Has sustainability ever come into play when making the purchase of your mattresses? Sustainability is such a broad topic so allow me to hone in a little bit on the issues at play here. Aside from cost, which is certainly high on everyone’s list of priorities, the durability and expected lifespan of a mattress has also got to be important. How many years do you expect a mattress to last? What about a mattress will make it last? Quality of materials certainly matters but what I have learned is there are component-type mattresses available that allow you to replace worn components instead of sending the entire mattress for recycling or to the landfill. In your thinking about mattress purchasing, have you ever explored this type of mattress system?
Looking back in the archives of Green Lodging News, I found just two examples of lodging establishments constructed using sea shipping containers—the Out by the Sea Bed and Breakfast in Crystal Beach, Texas, and the Deer Lake Lodge & Spa, a 40-minute drive from Houston. That is why I chose to write this past week about the recently opened Days Inn-Sioux Lookout in Sioux Lookout, Ontario. The 60-room, two-story property is truly unique because it is comprised of 120 sea shipping containers. According to Joe Kiss, President of Ladacor Ltd., the company that prefabricated the modular units at its facilities in Calgary, Alberta, the Days Inn is the largest sea shipping container lodging establishment in North America. I spoke with Joe about the property and he explained why it made sense to use shipping containers in the hotel’s construction. The Days Inn is located in an area that has a very long winter.
“It is smart business. It tells a great story and is the right thing to do moving forward. To be able to do this shows a commitment on the ownership and development side.” So said Loren Nalewanski, Vice President of Global Brand Management TownePlace Suites in describing the just launched 706kW solar photovoltaic installation located on four acres adjacent to the TownePlace Suites Clinton at Joint Base Andrews in Clinton, Md. Loren told me the $1.5 million investment has a 7.5-year ROI and is currently supplying most of the electricity needed by the 115-suite hotel—even though the solar panels will not be fully operational for a couple of months. During the day the hotel sells electricity to Pepco, the local power provider. Eventually, once additional investments are made in energy efficiency, the hotel will be 100 percent solar powered.
In this, my last column of 2014, I have many to thank for another successful year. First, I must thank every one of our sponsors. Be sure to send business their way and when you do contact them, tell them that you found them here. Second, I have to thank every reader for faithfully following Green Lodging News throughout the year. Each month my website attracts about 25,000 different folks and 135,000 total visits. It is gratifying to know that Green Lodging News has so many repeat visitors. The circulation of the weekly Green Lodging News e-newsletter and Green Supplier Spotlight currently stands at 5,082. Third, I have to thank all of the many editorial contributors to Green Lodging News—those submitting guest columns and educational articles. Finally, I also owe a big thanks to the many public relations professionals who coordinate article and press release contributions.
Many of you are hosting holiday events this month. There is a good chance you are using chafing dish fuel gel to keep food hot. There is a good chance a fair portion of that gel will go unused. There is also a good chance the gel containers will be improperly thrown away. I spoke with several suppliers of what are considered to be eco-friendlier versions of chafing dish fuel gel recently and was a bit shocked when I learned the truth about what hoteliers have been using for years to heat food. One supplier told me 40 percent of fuel gel is typically wasted. It is considered hazardous waste and should be considered as such at the point of disposal. “The hazardous waste is supposed to be disposed of by opening the can, and then removing the content into a hazmat container,” one supplier told me. “The container must be shipped to a hazmat site for disposal.”
Anyone looking for concrete evidence that our industry is going green need look no further than the just released report entitled, “The 2014 Lodging Study Hotel Trends: An Inside Look at Popular Amenities and Guest Services.” The report summarizes the results of a survey of more than 9,600 hoteliers. The American Hotel & Lodging Assn., along with STR, produced the survey that was funded by the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation. Green Lodging News has reported in the past on this same survey that is generated every two years. If you are an AH&LA member you can get a complete copy of the survey results at no cost. Otherwise, the cost is $1,500 for all of the results or $300 for each individual data point. See the article I posted this past week for details. Among the survey questions were many that have something to do with environmental initiatives.
It is amazing, isn’t it, how expensive printer cartridges are. The profit margin on them has got to be incredible. I think about that every time I have to replace a cartridge. A few cartridge purchases almost equals the cost of the printer itself. This past week I wrote and posted an article on remanufactured printer cartridges. Be sure to read it. Remanufactured (a.k.a. reengineered) cartridges, guaranteed to work just as well as new ones, can save you a lot of money and significantly reduce the flow of cartridge waste to the landfill. According to Tech-Optics Inc., a remanufacturer, distributer and seller of toner cartridges for laser jet printers, every year, approximately 400 million cartridges are thrown away. A typical cartridge takes 1,000 years to decompose. Each laser cartridge consists of 2.5 pounds of plastic, along with rubber, steel and aluminum.
This past week I posted an article on Denver’s historic Brown Palace Hotel. The 241-room property has quickly distinguished itself as one of the most ambitious green hotels in the United States. The property won the Good Earthkeeping Award in 2013 from the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Assn. and the Good Earthkeeping Award in 2014 from the American Hotel and Lodging Assn. While the property has had bee hives on its roof since 2009, it really has only been the last couple of years that the hotel has gotten its other green efforts in gear. Hotel management made a smart move a little more than two years ago by hiring Brenna St. Onge as Executive Housekeeper. Brenna had been an eco-champion at properties she previously worked at and was eager to energize efforts at the Brown Palace Hotel.
While geared toward gauging consumer reaction to green product claims, a study recently released by UL Environment and conducted by Shelton Group also sheds light, I believe, on how consumers are most likely to react to hotel property green certification claims. In the study, “Under the Lens: Claiming Green, The Influence of Green Product Claims on Purchase Intent and Brand Perception,” 1,017 consumers were presented with a series of visual comparisons in which a problematic claim was paired with a legitimate claim or a certified claim. An example of a problematic claim was language on a product that can easily be perceived as greenwashing. A legitimate claim included credible language on a product but the information was not certified by a third party. A certified claim was one substantiated by a third party.
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