Under Blackstone, Will Motel 6, Studio 6 Lose Their Green Identity?

by Glenn Hasek May 24, 2012 04:18

It was difficult not to miss in the news the past few days—Blackstone's purchase of Motel 6 and Studio 6 from Accor for $1.9 billion. Blackstone also purchased Hilton Hotels Corp. in 2007 and La Quinta in 2005. It will be interesting to see whether or not Blackstone pushes the various environmental initiatives that Accor launched for Motel 6 and Studio 6. I just put in a call to Blackstone for a comment and am waiting for a reply. Last September Green Lodging News reported that Motel 6 and Studio 6 had completed Green Key certification of the network's 1,100 locations. Motel 6 and Studio 6 have participated in Earth Day activities as a brand in the past—last year in support of Ronald McDonald House Charities. In July 2010, the Motel 6 in Northlake, Texas became the brand's first LEED certified property.

It features a "Phoenix" room design that includes wood-effect flooring instead of carpeting. It also includes thermal solar water heating, reflective cool roof, low e-glass tinted windows, low-energy lighting, high-efficiency PTAC units with occupancy-sensing thermostats, and many other green features. In the last few years Accor had been working to roll out its Phoenix room design systemwide.

Accor, wth Motel 6 and Studio 6, participated in numerous EPA sponsored programs in the past. In 2009 it joined the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Partnership for Environmental Priorities (NPEP). The program aims to reduce the use of potentially hazardous chemicals that can result from products and processes. Motel 6 has practiced environmental management since the early 1990s and has been recognized as an EnergyStar Partner since 2006. Motel 6 reduces water consumption with low-flow aerators for faucets and showerheads and 1.6-gallon low-flow toilets at all of its properties in the United States. Under Accor's ownership, Motel 6 strove to be in accordance with Accor’s Worldwide Hotel Environmental Charter, a 65-point set of actions that each Accor brand is encouraged to take to make their properties more energy efficient and environmentally responsible.

Under Blackstone's ownership, Hilton has certainly aggressively pushed forward its own green initiatives. La Quinta has had fewer successes. Stay tuned to Green Lodging News for more details on the future of the green initiatives of Motel 6 and Studio 6.



Just 28 Hotels Earned Energy Star in 2011

by Glenn Hasek May 22, 2012 04:56

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released its list of the U.S. Metropolitan areas with the most Energy Star certified buildings for 2011. The list of 25 cities is headed by Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Houston, Dallas, Riverside, Calif. and Boston. I went through the EPA’s list for 2011 to check to see where it added Energy Star rated hotels in 2011. There were just 28 hotels that achieved the Energy Star rating that year. Five were in California. Four were in Hawaii. Three were in Minnesota. Three were in Massachusetts. Two were in New York. Eleven states added one Energy Star hotel. For those of you not familiar with the Energy Star rating program for hotels, it allows you to measure the energy efficiency of your hotel properties and compare them to others across the United States.

Using data that you provide online, the system produces a baseline rating from 1 to 100. Once you have established this baseline, you can use Energy Star’s tools and resources to prioritize your investments, set goals, and track your management success. You can access the national rating system online through Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager.

I have written about the challenges of the Energy Star program in the past. While many hotels use the Portfolio Manager, few actually qualify for and achieve the Energy Star rating. This year so far there have been 18 hotels that have earned the rating—a pace that should result in there being more this year than last year.

What has your experience been with the EPA’s Portfolio Manager? Have you found it too difficult to reach the EPA’s required 75 points—the amount needed to earn the Energy Star?

I would love to hear from you. Please leave your comments here.


Green Conferences Falling Off the Events Calendar

by Glenn Hasek May 16, 2012 05:06

I am currently attending the Hospitality Design Expo & Conference in Las Vegas. In previous years there was a "Green Day" event that preceded the conference and expo. There was no Green Day this year because Hospitality Design magazine, the publication behind the conference and expo, lost a couple of key people who were behind the planning of the event. The employees moved on to better positions in other companies. Replacing Green Day this year were four "Green Conversations" organized by NEWH Inc.—the Hospitality Industry Network. I participated in the first Green Conversation as an interviewer of Jeanne Varney, lecturer faculty, School of Hotel Administration, Cornell University. The topic of our conversation was “What Are We Teaching Our Students, and What Can They Teach Us?” There were about 15 to 20 people at the booth where our conversation took place.

While the Green Conversations were a great idea, and I was happy to participate, they did not come close to attracting the crowd that Green Day once drew.

Unfortunately, Green Day is just the first of several green events that have fallen off our industry calendar. Another is the Annual Green Lodging & Hospitality Conference in Orlando. Last I heard is that the event is not coming back this year because it failed to make money last year. Another event not returning this summer is the West Coast Green Lodging Conference. While I did not attend that event last year, I heard that attendance was down significantly from the inaugural year in 2010. Each event has its own reasons for not coming back or failing but the bottom line is that our industry now has no national annual event--whether a conference, trade show or summit--focused on green lodging.

Why do we need one? Education is important in keeping the green movement progressing. So too are networking opportunities. It is also important to have the opportunity to interact with vendors invested in green products and services, and to hear success stories from those who have successfully transformed their properties into more profitable, sustainable ones. A green conference is also an opportunity to catch up on the latest green trends from experts who best understand them. Yes, there are small pockets of people who meet annually as part of larger organizations but there is no one event that shines as the "go to" event for those with a stake in green lodging. I wish I had the funds and the manpower to create one. What do you think? Should our industry have an annual green lodging event for hoteliers, designers, architects, etc.? If so, what should it look like? Where should it be held? What should its primary goal be? I would love to hear from you.


Lexington Institute's EnergyTrends Site Offers Insight Into Renewable Energy Commitment by State

by Glenn Hasek May 09, 2012 05:48

In an article on Green Lodging News and in my recent weekly column I referenced a study by Brighter Planet entitled, "Hotel Energy & Carbon Efficiency." In the study Brighter Planet ranked 75 different hotel brands based on their carbon and energy efficiency. Brighter Planet did not look at efforts at the individual property level but larger picture items such as where a hotel is located and whether its electricity comes from clean or dirty energy sources. If the majority of a hotel company's hotels happen to be located in a state where electricity is generated from renewable energy sources, it fared very well in the ranking. In reading the results of the Brighter Planet study I became curious to know exactly what states have the cleanest energy.

By chance this past week I received a press release from the Arlington, Va.-based Lexington Institute that highlights the leading states in the United States for renewable energy. You can find the information at the website EnergyTrends.org by mousing over the U.S. map at the top of the page and then by clicking on the state that interests you. The top three states are California, Colorado and Massachusetts. California, for example, is given a renewable energy grade of a "B." It ranks first thanks to its investments in hydro, geothermal and solar energy technologies.

On the EnergyTrends.org site you can also see how a state ranks based on energy consumed per capita. As you review the information, keep in mind that the scoring is based on data from 2003 to 2010, the most recent years for which confirmed information is available. According to the Lexington Institute, the grading system takes into account both the amount of energy generated from renewable sources and the growth rate over a three-year period, as well as savings achieved in electricity use, state incentive programs for renewable energy, and other factors. Extra bonus points were awarded for categories such as grid-connected renewable installations, dynamic pricing for power utility consumers, and integration of electric vehicles. The Lexington Institute drew much of its data from the federal Department of Energy.


What's the Story Behind the Eggs That You Buy?

by Glenn Hasek May 02, 2012 05:10

Burger King Corp. announced last week that it will transition to using only cage-free hens for its U.S. egg supply. The changeover is expected to take five years. According to Burger King, it was the first major quick-serve restaurant chain to implement a set of animal welfare policies aimed at reducing cage confinement of egg-laying hens. Since 2007, Burger King has been incorporating cage-free eggs into its supply chain. What exactly is meant by a cage-free hen? Most egg-laying hens exist in what are called battery cages--cages so small the hens can barely move. The floor area can be as small as a piece of letter-size paper. Hens are so cramped that most are unable to stretch their wings or engage in other natural behaviors, such as nesting, perching and dust-bathing.

They don't have access to natural light, and as many as 100,000 birds may be grouped together under a single roof. Sometimes, cages are stacked on top of other cages and hens in lower cages get pelted with waste from the hens above them. In general, cage-free hens are free to roam. According to Eggland's Best, its cage-free hens are provided with sunlight, shade, shelter, an exercise area, fresh air, and are protected from predators. The hens are fed an all-natural, all-vegetarian feed that contains no added hormones, antibiotics or steroids, and no animal by-products, recycled or processed foods.

To be considered cage-free, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires only that a bird spend part of its time outside. Wikipedia does a good job explaining the variations of free-range practices. Click here to see them. For more information on cage-free eggs, click here.

Do you have any idea at all what conditions the hens that supply your property's eggs are in? Be sure to ask your supplier. What you feed your guests for breakfast may not be as healthy for them as you think. The eggs may in fact run counter to your green story and your commitment to corporate social responsibility. In my time with Green Lodging News I have seen few hotels or hotel companies commit to cage-free eggs. (See Hyatt article to learn about its commitment.) I am sure cost is one reason. Your thoughts?




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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.