news & features

6/30/2016

Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead’s Wes Shirley: Always Chasing, Cultivating Big Ideas

ATLANTA—It is no coincidence that big projects and accolades seem to gravitate toward Wes Shirley. The Director of Engineering at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead is always looking for something new to elevate the guest experience, cut costs and reduce environmental impact at the same time. Shirley, who fell in love with building and operating buildings at an early age, has been the driver behind projects such as a 50,000-gallon rainwater harvesting system and a 20-panel solar thermal system. This past week he accepted an award for the hotel as part of the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge. Participants in the Challenge pledge to reduce energy and water consumption by 20 percent by 2020. As Director of Engineering at the 439-room hotel, Shirley oversees a team of 12 engineers. He and the hotel’s controller act as coaches of the green team which consists of one manager from every department. Ongoing education of hotel staff is key to the success of the property’s green initiatives. “As hotel staff changes we are continually training our staff,” Shirley says. “We actually start with the new hires but we do training consistently with all our employees. It’s a way of life in our hotel. We also give them best practices for their home.”

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Getting a Grip on the Climate Change/Tourism Link: One Example of Negative Impact

U.S. News & World Report recently listed what they believe to be the World’s Best Places to Visit. Topping the list: the Great Barrier Reef. Hugging the east coast of Queensland, Australia, the Great Barrier Reef extends from Cape York in the north to Bundaberg in the south—a total of 1,250 miles. The Great Barrier Reef encompasses 3,000 coral reefs, 600 islands and 1,625 species of fish and attracts 1.6 million annual visitors annually. An attraction in many ways, the Great Barrier Reef is a perfect example of an area highly vulnerable to climate change—coral bleaching caused by increasing carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere. The Great Barrier Reef is already experiencing coral bleaching and a recent report illustrates how vulnerable one continent can be to this phenomenon. Based on surveys of Chinese, U.K., U.S. and domestic tourists by The Australia Institute, results show that tourism areas adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef risk losing more than 1 million visitors per year.

guest column
What the Hospitality Industry Should Know About Solar

Solar is now more cost-effective than ever, offering a number of compelling financial and environmental benefits for the hospitality industry. Solar technologies have been proven over decades in the field, and are becoming increasingly efficient, reliable, and affordable. Large corporations are investing billions in the industry, powering a record number of installations in 2015. Total solar installations hit the 1 million mark in February of this year, and total industry growth is projected to hit a staggering 119 percent this year. As the solar market expands logarithmically, the costs of installation are plummeting. A hotel can reap the benefits of a solar installation in both the short and long terms. Lighting, HVAC and water heating accounts for approximately 60 percent of the total costs for a typical lodging facility; the U.S. Energy Star program estimates that hotels spend about $2,196 per room annually on energy alone. A solar PV system can significantly lower energy bills.

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green hotel focus
New York’s Hotel Pennsylvania Beats out 1,600 Competitors to Win Energy Star National Building Competition

NEW YORK—New York’s Hotel Pennsylvania announced that it has won the 2015 Energy Star National Building Competition for demonstrating leadership in water conservation. The hotel competed against more than 1,600 buildings with the goal of reducing its water use and protecting the environment. The recognition was awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “We are pleased to be recognized for our water conservation efforts,” said Gene Nicotra, General Manager at the hotel. “Not only do we offer excellent location and value, but we also continue to improve efficiencies in reducing our carbon footprint.”

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personnel profile
From Corks to Fryer Oil, Scott Lipscomb Makes Sure McMenamins’ Waste Gets Recycled

PORTLAND, ORE.—Scott Lipscomb is always trash talking. It is his job, literally, as Environmental Coordinator at McMenamins in Portland, Ore. If there is something that can be donated or recycled, it is Lipscomb’s job to make it happen. McMenamins has provided Lipscomb with many challenges since he began working for the company in December 1992. Then, McMenamins had just 12 locations. Today it has 70 pubs and restaurants, 25 breweries, two distilleries, a winery, and 10 hotels. “I started as a regular pubster,” Lipscomb says. “After a couple of years the person handling the recycling program for our company was leaving. I have always been a proponent of recycling so I applied and got the position (recycling coordinator). In the beginning I would work 20 to 25 hours a week picking up recycling at the locations in the Portland area and our beer truck would bring back recyclables that were not recycled locally. I would then recycle those materials here in Portland at several different recycling centers. As the company grew we changed my job title to Environmental Coordinator.”

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MGM Resorts, Caesars Represent Hospitality on Civic 50 List
2 days ago

On Tuesday of this week, Points of Light, the largest organization in the world dedicated to volunteer service, recognized its 2016 Civic 50 winners at the Conference on Volunteering and Service in Detroit. Only two hospitality companies made the 2016 Civic 50 list: MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corp. MGM and Caesars joined companies such as the Ford Motor Co. and General Mills. Not every company is eligible for the Civic 50. A company must have $1 billion or above in annual revenue. The Civic 50 is based on the results of a survey that focuses on four dimensions of a company’s U.S. community engagement program: investment (time, money, etc.), integration (how a company “does well by doing good”), institutionalization (institutional policies, systems, and incentives), and impact (how company measures its impact). Survey submissions were judged by a panel of nine. Both MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment issued press releases to highlight their inclusion on the Civic 50.

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