Some Ideas on How to Keep Employees 'Green' Motivated

by Glenn Hasek July 26, 2011 04:25

Not all employees need reminding in order to implement green practices. There are those, however, who need a lot of extra help. For employees like these, you need to be persistent about your property's green message. Talk about the importance of sustainability at your morning meetings. Post signage in back of house areas or at employee work stations. Talk frequently about accomplishments. Set goals and use bulletin boards and employee e-newsletters to remind employees about the progress of a project. Surprise your associates with recognition when they take positive, green steps. Provide uniforms that convey your property's green commitment. Ask employees to sign a commitment letter--a document that formalizes their commitment to green operations.

Quarterly or annually, hold an employee recognition program to honor those who have done the most to transform your property to a green establishment. Require green team participation and rotate promising employees in and out of leadership positions. Post suggestion boxes in employee areas to capture ideas about how to reduce waste or save energy and water.

I spoke with Faith Taylor, vice president of sustainability and innovation at Wyndham Worldwide yesterday and she told me about a program at Wyndham Worldwide called "Caught Green Handed." Wyndham Exchange & Rentals initiated the Caught Green Handed recognition program to acknowledge associates who have made a contribution to sustainability practices. The program has been further adopted by Wyndham Vacation Ownership. As part of Caught Green Handed, an employee can recognize a peer who has taken a positive, green step--recycling an item, for example. Employees caught "green handed" receive a certificate and recognition. The program is designed to combine creativity and fun with the goals of efficiency and corporate responsibility. It is a great idea.

What do you do at your property to motivate your employees about sustainability and keep "green" top of mind? I would love to hear from you. Be sure to leave your comments here.  


Side Benefits from Solar Panels: Rooftop Cooling, Warming

by Glenn Hasek July 21, 2011 04:40

According to a team of researchers at UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, rooftop solar panels can do more than just generate electricity or heat; they can help cool your roof in the summer and warm it during the winter, resulting in additional energy savings. In a study in an upcoming issue of Solar Energy, researchers, led by Jan Kleissl, provide details of a study that shows that solar panels act as shade during warmer months and as a form of insulator during the winter. The savings are not huge--just 5 percent--but they strengthen the case for solar panels on the roofs of commercial buildings such as hotels. Researchers found that the roof itself stays cooler in the summer as well as the ceilings of the rooms just below the roof.

Data for the study was gathered over three days in April on the roof of the Powell Structural Systems Laboratory at the Jacobs School of Engineering with a thermal infrared camera. The building is equipped with tilted solar panels and solar panels that are flush with the roof. Some portions of the roof are not covered by panels. The idea for the study came about when Kleissl, Dominguez and a group of undergraduate students were preparing for an upcoming conference. They decided the undergraduates should take pictures of Powell’s roof with a thermal infrared camera. The data confirmed the team’s suspicion that the solar panels were indeed cooling the roof, and the building’s ceiling as well.

In an article on the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering website, Kleissl said, “There are more efficient ways to passively cool buildings, such as reflective roof membranes. But, if you are considering installing solar photovoltaic, depending on your roof thermal properties, you can expect a large reduction in the amount of energy you use to cool your residence or business.”



Legionnaire's Disease Back in the News Once Again

by Glenn Hasek July 19, 2011 04:46

Las Vegas' ARIA Resort's reporting of a minor Legionnaires' Disease outbreak last week should concern every hotel owner. In case you did not see the report, several guests who stayed at the resort came down with the disease. Later checking by ARIA officials found elevated levels of Legionella bacteria in several guestrooms. The specific source of the bacteria was not reported. It is common for Legionella bacteria to be transmitted via airborne water particles from an infected water source. That source could be anything from cooling towers to air conditioners to ice making machines to showerheads. In its letter to its guests, ARIA Resort said it had contacted guests who had stayed at the resort from June 21 to July 4 to make them aware of the issue.

That is certainly not the call or letter you want to receive after staying at a resort.

ARIA Resort reported that it dealt with the bacteria problem with water treatment and no detectable levels of Legionella bacteria were found.

One of the lodging industry's darkest moments was in July 1976 when an outbreak of pneumonia occurred among people attending a convention of the American Legion at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia. More than 200 people were given medical treatment and 34 died. The source of the bacteria causing the illness was determined to be the cooling tower of the hotel's air-conditioning system, which then spread it through the entire building. Even today, Legionella bacteria sends from 8,000 to 18,000 people to the hospital each year.

What kind of maintenance plan do you have in place to prevent the growth of Legionella bacteria? How often do you check for it? I did a little checking online and found a helpful source on the prevention and control of Legionnaire's Disease. Click here for it. Did you know the bacteria causing Legionnaire's Disease is even found in potting mix, soils and mulch? Be sure to read the report I recommend.


Demand for Green Building Materials Increasing

by Glenn Hasek July 14, 2011 05:19

As the demand for green buildings--including green hotels--increases, so too does the demand for green building materials. According to a recent study from the Freedonia Group, demand for green building materials is projected to expand 13 percent annually to $71 billion in 2015, slightly outpacing the growth of building construction expenditures over that period. Demand for a number of green building products is expected to post gains in excess of 20 percent annually through 2015, benefiting from greater availability, environmental concern and more stringent regulatory or building code standards, coupled with the rebound in the construction market. Among these products are water-efficient plumbing fixtures and fittings, energy-efficient lighting fixtures, permeable pavement, and concrete that features recycled content.

With the exception of recycled concrete, the market for most of these materials is fairly small and the additional demand will be relatively modest in value terms.

Through 2015, the largest value gains will be from concrete products featuring recycled content (e.g., fly ash, blast furnace slag), which will increase nearly $11 billion from low 2010 levels. In addition to the recovery in construction, green concrete products are expected to continue to gain market share because the use of recycled materials in concrete not only reduces the volume of waste sent to landfills, but often enhances the performance of the concrete.

Green floor coverings, which include Green Label Plus-certified carpets and products made from rapidly renewable resources (e.g., bamboo and cork flooring), are the largest source of green building materials demand, accounting for nearly one-quarter of the total market in 2010. Demand for green floor coverings is projected to increase 11.7 percent annually through 2015. However, gains will not match the pace of the rest of the green building materials market, primarily because the majority of floor coverings (including essentially all carpeting products) are already green, limiting opportunities for greater market penetration.

If you are interested in seeing the largest selection of green building materials available, I highly recommend attending Greenbuild this year. It will be held in Toronto October 4 to 7.


Online Tool Eases Recycling Process in Illinois

by Glenn Hasek July 12, 2011 05:26

An innovative online tool launched at the recent Illinois Recycling and Waste Management Conference and Trade Show will benefit Illinois hotel owners interested in recycling. EcoPoint Illinois is the first comprehensive database of local and statewide recycling opportunities in the state, providing information from local government, and public and private sector recyclers about where residents can recycle anything from cans to computers. For example, if a hotelier wants to know where to recycle aluminum, paper, glass, or scrap metal, he can go to EcoPoint Illinois, find a recycling center or drop-off location within a few miles of his hotel, and get directions using Google maps. Illinois currently has a recycling rate of 37 percent, higher than the national average of 33.8 percent.

“People look at 37 percent recycling statewide and think that this is great, but we are far behind states like California where the recycling rate is over 50 percent,” said Paul Jaquet, president of Eagle Enterprises, Inc. and Illinois Recycling Association board president. “Actually, we should be recycling and composting at least 75 percent to 90 percent of the solid waste we generate.”

I took at look at EcoPoint Illinois and was impressed. One can search by material type or location as well as distance of your location from a facility. A search on "steel cans" in Chicago, 15 miles radius, produced four drop-off locations. Within 50 miles of Chicago there are 21 locations. Be sure to check out this helpful site. If you are not in Illinois, be sure to use Google to check for a similar site in your state. My state, Ohio, for example, has a site that lists recycling centers throughout the state. 


Lists That You May or May Not Want to Be Part Of

by Glenn Hasek July 07, 2011 04:31

Several rankings of interest were recently released. First, the Economist Intelligence Unit released its ranking of the greenest and least greenest cities in North America. The top five greenest cities: 1) San Francisco, 2) Vancouver, B.C., 3) New York City, 4) Seattle, 5) Denver. The five least green cities: 1) Detroit, 2) St. Louis, 3) Cleveland, 4) Phoenix, 5) Pittsburgh. The survey, which was commissioned by the Siemens Corporation, evaluated 27 cities along 31 indicators, ranging from water and energy consumption and conservation to public use of land, public transportation quality and efficiency, and even how “walkable” the city is to determine the ranking. Meanwhile, Travel and Leisure magazine announced its list of America's Dirtiest Cities based on a survey of its readers.

The top five dirtiest cities, according to Travel and Leisure: 1) New Orleans, 2) Philadelphia, 3) Los Angeles, 4) Memphis, 5) New York. It is interesting that, based on the two aforementioned studies, New York is considered among the greenest and dirtiest.

The Natural Resource Defense Council also released an important list: the United States' dirtiest beaches in 2010. The report compiled state and federal data from nearly 3,300 beaches and found more than 24,000 days of closings or advisories at ocean or Great Lakes beaches. Stormwater and sewage, along with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, were the reasons for a 29 percent increase in beach closings and health warnings last year. The report takes into consideration criteria ranging from water quality testing frequency to percent of samples exceeding national standards.

Each of these studies may have an impact on whether or not groups or individual travelers wish to visit your city.


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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 or by phone at (813) 510-3868.