GRA Releases Latest Green Restaurant List

by Glenn Hasek April 28, 2011 04:15

The nonprofit, Boston-based Green Restaurant Association (GRA) just released its latest list of Certified Green Restaurants. Based on my count, there are a dozen that are part of lodging establishments in the United States. To see the entire list, click here. GRA has been featured in Green Lodging News and runs one of the oldest green certification organizations in the world. It was founded in 1990. Some of the prominent companies that have Certified Green Restaurants include Panera Bread, Microsoft, Wyndham Worldwide Corp., the InterContinental Hotels Group, and Hyatt Corp. Certified Green Restaurants have met the rigorous standards set forth by the GRA. They must be Styrofoam-free, implement a full scale recycling program, conduct annual education, and receive a minimum of 100 points on the GRA’s ratings scale.

To be certified, restaurants must score a minimum of 10 points each in the following environmental categories: Energy, Sustainable Food, Water Efficiency, Waste Reduction & Recycling, Disposables, and Chemicals & Pollution Reduction. To access the certification standards, click here. The Certified Green Restaurants program is tiered, meaning that restaurants can achieve two, three or four stars. A strength of the certification program is its requirement that restaurants continuously improve. As mentioned, to reach certification, a restaurant must meet a minimum of 100 points. By end of year two, each Certified Green Restaurant must score 110 points. Each year thereafter, it must meet the standard of 10 points higher. Starting in year nine, it must meet the standard of five points higher.

In addition to its basic restaurant certification, GRA offers a Sustainabuild certification for new builds and renovations, and an Events certification for the foodservice portion of an event.

With more than 500,000 restaurants in the United States, the number represented in GRA are just a tiny drop in a very large bucket. GRA certainly deserves an "A" for effort but it has a long way to go in helping the restaurant industry reduce its environmental impact.

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Xanterra Parks & Resorts Posts 2011 Sustainability Report

by Glenn Hasek April 26, 2011 05:25

Xanterra Parks & Resorts has just completed its fourth Environmental Sustainability Report and has posted it online. Be sure to check it out. The 52-page document detais the company’s environmental initiatives across all of its properties and their related operations. The report follows the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)’s reporting guidelines to the extent possible. I have followed Xanterra's progress since launching Green Lodging News. I consider the company to be one of the leading innovators in the lodging industry when it comes to measuring environmental performance. Xanterra uses its own highly refined environmental performance monitoring system, called “Ecometrix,” to define the company’s total annual absolute resource consumption, as well as the company’s “ecometabolism.”

Xanterra’s ecometabolism is a measure of resource usage per-room night and per-dollar of revenue. Xanterra has been logging environmental performance data for 10 years now, thank in great part to Chris Lane, vice president of environmental affairs for the company. Because of Xanterra's tracking systems, Lane says "we have a much clearer picture than ever of our challenges for 2015 and beyond.” It is by 2015 that the company hopes to accomplish a set of environmental goals first established in 2003. Among those goals, Xanterra committed to do its part to slow global warming, preserve natural resources, minimize hazardous substances and protect the natural environment.

More specifically, the goals—based upon the baseline year of 2000, unless otherwise noted—are to decrease fossil fuel usage by 30 percent, increase usage of renewable energy to provide 7 percent of total electricity consumed, decrease greenhouse gas (CO2) emissions by 30 percent, divert from landfill 50 percent of all solid waste generated, increase purchases of sustainable food items to 50 percent of all company-wide food expenditures, achieve a company-wide CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standard of 35 miles per gallon (EPA rated combined city and highway) for all passenger vehicles (under 10 persons) purchased annually, generate zero hazardous waste and decrease water usage by 25 percent (baseline year 2003). Many of these goals have already been achieved or are near completion.

The Environmental Sustainability Report includes a message from Chris Lane as well as a message from the company's president and CEO. The report summarizes Xanterra's long-term goals and accomplishments, includes property-level highlights, and hones in on the company's efforts in the area of renewable energy. (More than 14 percent of the company's electricity is from renewable energy.) The report includes case studies and other helpful information. It is one of the best sustainability reports I have seen. Once again, be sure to check it out! 

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At Your Lodging Establishment, Make Every Day Earth Day

by Glenn Hasek April 21, 2011 04:13

With Earth Day just one day away, I have been receiving many press releases from hotel, resort and inn owners describing how they intend to celebrate the occasion. The events range from inspiring to a little cheesy. What is important is that those in our industry at least remember the day and what it means--paying respect to something bigger than us all, thinking about how much damage we have caused to the planet so far, and how we can undo the damage now and in the future. It may sound cliché but we should indeed remember Earth Day every day--not once a year. The good news in our industry is that reducing our impact is so easy to do. Any lodging establishment can incorporate what is considered "low hanging fruit" into its operations that have significant impact.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs, low-flow bathroom fixtures, amenity dispensers, guestroom energy management systems and recycling programs are just a few examples. What I would consider higher hanging fruit are cool roofs, solar thermal and solar photovoltaic systems, wind turbines, geothermal heating and cooling technology, and food waste decomposition systems.

As I have written over and over again in Green Lodging News, going green equals smart business. It is a more profitable way of doing business. The fringe benefits are the positive marketing buzz and stronger employee morale.

Don't wait until Earth Day to remember what you should be doing to reduce your environmental impact. Make conservation a part of your daily business practices and a part of your work place culture. Train it and enforce it. It will be good for your bottom line and good for the planet. Measure your progress. Knowing how far you have come will create a sense of accomplishment. Celebrate your victories and share your best practices.

In an industry hell bent on growth, we need to be ever mindful of reducing our net impact. What new steps will you take in the coming year to reduce your environmental footprint? Be sure to leave your comments here.

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IHG Releases 2010 Corporate Responsibility Report

by Glenn Hasek April 19, 2011 05:16

In its announcement that it has released version 2.0 of its online Green Engage tool for the monitoring of energy, water and waste at its hotels, the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) also revealed that its 2010 Corporate Responsibility Report is now available. To see it, click here. The report is divided into four sections: Innovation, Collaboration, Environment and Community. The site also includes information on IHG's Innovation Hotel of the future, as well as links to hotels participating in Green Engage. Of particular interest to hoteliers should be the Environment section of the report. It lists IHG's key achievements and environment objectives, and describes how it educates employees and guests about its commitment to sustainability. Be sure to check it out.

In its owned and managed hotels, IHG is aiming to achieve an energy savings of 6 percent to 10 percent from 2010 to 2012. It is the first company to receive LEED endorsement for an existing hotel program--Green Engage. "Our partnership with the USGBC is a first step on a streamlined path to LEED certification for a large group of hotels based on a preapproved prototype and process," the report says. "It enables our hotels to speed up their own LEED certification by using Green Engage."

IHG's Corporate Responsibility Report includes creative videos and a description of how IHG is responding to environmental legislation around the world. "This year we were able to use Green Engage to comply with the UK's Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC), a mandatory carbon emissions reporting and pricing scheme," the report says. "The scheme requires us to monitor energy use and purchase carbon allowances on behalf of our UK hotels, and is designed to encourage a reduction in energy consumption and carbon emissions. There are significant implications for franchise-based businesses such as ours. We are actively working to support all our franchisees within the scope of the CRC and have already registered on behalf of our hotels."

The report also complies with Global Reporting Initiative Guidelines. IHG has achieved 60 GRI indicators. Click here for details.

If the report is missing anything, it is case studies--success stories of individual properties and how they are working to save energy and water, and reduce waste.

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IHG Releases 2010 Corporate Responsibility Report

by Glenn Hasek April 19, 2011 04:29

In its announcement that it has released version 2.0 of its online Green Engage tool for the monitoring of energy, water and waste at its hotels, the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) also revealed that its 2010 Corporate Responsibility Report is now available. To see it, click here. The report is divided into four sections: Innovation, Collaboration, Environment and Community. The site also includes information on IHG's Innovation Hotel of the future, as well as links to hotels participating in Green Engage. Of particular interest to hoteliers should be the Environment section of the report. It lists IHG's key achievements and environment objectives, and describes how it educates employees and guests about its commitment to sustainability. Be sure to check it out.

In its owned and managed hotels, IHG is aiming to achieve an energy savings of 6 percent to 10 percent from 2010 to 2012. It is the first company to receive LEED endorsement for an existing hotel program--Green Engage. "Our partnership with the USGBC is a first step on a streamlined path to LEED certification for a large group of hotels based on a preapproved prototype and process," the report says. "It enables our hotels to speed up their own LEED certification by using Green Engage."

IHG's Corporate Responsibility Report includes creative videos and a description of how IHG is responding to environmental legislation around the world. "This year we were able to use Green Engage to comply with the UK's Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC), a mandatory carbon emissions reporting and pricing scheme," the report says. "The scheme requires us to monitor energy use and purchase carbon allowances on behalf of our UK hotels, and is designed to encourage a reduction in energy consumption and carbon emissions. There are significant implications for franchise-based businesses such as ours. We are actively working to support all our franchisees within the scope of the CRC and have already registered on behalf of our hotels."

The report also complies with Global Reporting Initiative Guidelines. IHG has achieved 60 GRI indicators. Click here for details.

If the report is missing anything, it is case studies--success stories of individual properties and how they are working to save energy and water, and reduce waste.

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JDV Properties Join in San Francisco's Green Business Program

by Glenn Hasek April 14, 2011 04:20

I had an opportunity this week to chat with Karlene Holloman. She is senior vice president of operations for San Francisco-based Joie de Vivre Hotels and oversees the company's Green Dreams initiative. During my conversation with Karlene, I discovered that five Joie de Vivre properties have been certified as green through the San Francisco Green Business Program. (Joie de Vivre posts which of its 32 hotels have earned green certification on its Green Scorecard page on its website.) The five hotels that have earned certification through the Green Business Program include: Hotel Drisco, Hotel Carlton, Galleria Park Hotel, Hotel Del Sol, and Hotel Vitale. The five Joie de Vivre properties represent half of the 10 hotels in San Francisco that participate in the Green Business Program.

For those of you interested in green certification programs, I highly recommend checking out San Francisco's. (Click here to see the standards.) The areas covered in the standards include: Solid Waste (Waste Diversion, Source Reduction, Environmentally Preferable Purchasing), Energy Conservation (HVAC, Lighting, Energy Management), Water Conservation (Landscaping, Water Management, Water Conservation), Pollution Prevention (Clean Air, Janitorial Cleaning, Pest Management, Environmentally Preferable Purchasing), Wastewater (Storm Water Pollution Prevention), and General/Staff Education. The Standards page includes helpful tips that cover each of the Standards areas. Hotel applicants need not meet all Standards to earn certification. Some of the Standards go beyond what is found in any other green lodging certification program. For example, one must eliminate the use of plastic bags and set up a commuter benefits program to enable employees to use the pre-tax deduction under IRS Code 132(f) for transit, vanpool, or biking costs.

Be sure to check out the San Francisco Green Business Program and all other green lodging certification programs by clicking here. Your thoughts on San Francisco's program?

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No Time for Chewing the Fat at Fairmont Pittsburgh

by Glenn Hasek April 12, 2011 04:59

When it involves a cow, the chefs at the Fairmont Pittsburgh apparently do not like to waste anything. Led by Executive Chef Andrew Morrison, the chefs are converting cow fat, otherwise known as tallow, into soap. That's right, soap. They had found a use for every part of the cow except the tallow. Morrison and his team create the soap using a simple recipe of tallow, water, coconut oil, blended vegetable and olive oil, lye and natural aromatic oils. The tallow comes from a half cow that Morrison purchases each week from a local farm, Burns Angus Farm. “Our culinary team utilized every part of the cow except the fat, or tallow,” Morrison said. “We researched ways to use the fat and discovered some interesting soap recipes that actually call for tallow.”

The entire process takes about two weeks and is completed entirely in the hotel’s kitchens. The soap, available in a variety of scents, will be used as Fairmont Pittsburgh’s signature gift. According to an article in The Pittsburgh Tribune, the soap was handed out as gifts at the hotel's recent anniversary celebration. It may eventually be sold at the hotel's health club and spa. That something like this would happen at the Fairmont Pittsburgh should come as no surprise. Last August, the hotel announced that it had earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification at the Gold level from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). Last month the property participated in Earth Hour. For the hotel's restaurant, Habitat, Chef Morrison continually sources his meat, poultry, produce, eggs and other products from local farmers and vendors.

Are you as thrifty in your kitchen? What creative steps have you taken there to reduce waste? Please be sure to leave a comment.

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New Sites Aim to Address Mattress Recycling/Disposal Issues

by Glenn Hasek April 07, 2011 04:19

According to Nationwide Mattress Recycling, close to 4.5 million mattresses and 4.5 million box springs are sent to the landfill or incinerator every year in the United States. That amounts to 250 million pounds of mattresses annually. While nobody really knows how many of those mattresses come from lodging establishments, you can bet that a fair portion of them are from them. For hoteliers and innkeepers interested in doing what is environmentally responsible--recycling mattresses--it can be a challenge but it is possible. Several companies in the United States now provide nationwide pickup service and recycling for old mattresses. Click here to see one list of mattress recyclers. Click here for another list.

To help those interested in mattress recycling find information, share ideas, ask questions, and make new connections, the International Sleep Products Association (ISPA) has just launched an ISPA Earth Facebook page and ISPA Earth LinkedIn Group. ISPA, in its announcement about the two social networking sites, stated the following: “Facebook and LinkedIn make communicating among manufacturers, consumers, recyclers and anyone in the business of making, buying, using and disposing of beds easy and fun. Please post questions and information about mattress recycling or other topics involving the environmental impact of mattresses, including new “greener” materials, better manufacturing practices that can reduce energy or water consumption, etc."

The social networking sites are just one small step in helping to alleviate the flow of mattresses to landfills. Kudos to ISPA for creating the two sites. I hope there is more to come regarding mattress recycling from ISPA and its members. Be sure to visit Green Lodging News later today to read a new article on mattress recycling. You will discover that it can actually be cheaper to recycle than landfill. 

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An Innovative Way to Conduct a Green Tour of a Facility

by Glenn Hasek April 05, 2011 04:19

It is not uncommon for operators of green lodging establishments to get requests to tour their facilities. Typically it happens to those that have established a green leadership position in their markets. At the 30th annual conference of The International Association of Conference Centers hosted by The National Conference Center in Leesburg, Va., last month, The National Conference Center offered a very unique green tour. Called a QR-Coded Green Tour, it included 12 stops and incorporated two-dimensional barcodes designed to decode content at high speed. Consistent with the property’s environmental initiatives, including using significantly less paper, QR Codes bring data (such as URLs) to Smart Phone users quickly and efficiently.

According to Sarah Vining of The National Conference Center's marketing department, in order to participate in the QR-Coded Green Tour, guests had to download an appropriate QR application for their smart phones, such as the universally compatible ScanLife app. The multi-media green tour included green transportation efforts, green history, eco-friendly restrooms, as well as the business center, sustainable initiatives in the kitchen, and green meetings. Each stop featured a posted QR Code that provided relevant information about the property’s green initiatives. Congratulations to The National Conference Center for using cutting-edge technology to convey its green story.

The Center is one of only nine facilities in Virginia to be certified Silver by the Green Seal Standards for Hotel & Lodging Properties. There are only 95 lodging properties in the United States that are certified Silver according to the Green Seal website. The National Conference Center has also signed the Code of Sustainability established by International Association of Conference Centers, and maintains a Gold Tier rating from IACC.

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About Me

Glenn Hasek is the publisher and editor of Green Lodging News. He has more than 20 years of experience writing about the lodging industry. He can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com or by phone at (813) 510-3868.