Name: Dina Belon
Title: Sustainability/Energy Specialist
Hotel: Peabody Orlando
Time in current position: Four months
Primary responsibilities: “Everything related to sustainability such as water consumption, energy conservation, employee engagement, transportation, public relations related to sustainability, and green purchasing. I’ve done everything from integrated pest management to car pooling.”
Hotel’s most significant sustainability-related accomplishment so far: “I would say the crown jewel has been the waste management program. We do single-stream recycling but also this spring the hotel started composting all of its food waste. It was a huge undertaking to try and capture the food waste that is coming out of our facility. Waste Management started a composting facility in Apopka. It has been very successful.”
Hotel’s most significant sustainability-related challenge: “Energy is the biggest challenge. When we are at a lower occupancy, there is a lot of space that is unoccupied. Managing those unoccupied and unused spaces is a lot of work. We have a really committed staff that set temperatures back and turn the lights off.”
ORLANDO, FLA.—“I enjoy getting to do what I am passionate about every day.” So says Dina Belon, Sustainability/Energy Specialist at The Peabody Orlando, when asked what she enjoys most about her job. Belon is one of just a handful of people in the United States employed full time in a sustainability-related position at a single hotel level.
Belon’s position was newly created by the Peabody Hotel Group a little more than four months ago. Peabody Hotel Group may eventually employ full-time sustainability/energy specialists at its hotels in Memphis and Little Rock. “Their objective is to pilot this position here in Orlando,” Belon says.
Belon balances her responsibilities at the 1,641-room Peabody Orlando with numerous industry volunteer activities. She is chair for the Green Destination Orlando program, serves as the sunshine chapter president for NEWH (The Hospitality Industry Network), and is on the board of adjustments and appeals for the City of Titusville, Fla., and is a member of the Space Coast Tourism Council marketing committee.
Broad Range of Responsibilities
At The Peabody Orlando, Belon’s responsibilities are broad and range from specific operations-related duties to acting as a sustainability cheerleader for the hotel’s many employees. Each day she spends a couple of hours on the building’s automation systems that help to reduce energy in guestrooms and meeting spaces. She also spends an hour or two each day on trouble shooting. The remainder of her time is spent on projects ranging from creating an employee competition for National Recycling Day (November 15) to working on the hotel’s strategic sustainability plan. Belon says Peabody Hotel Group will eventually produce a sustainability report.
Finding ways to reduce the convention center hotel’s energy consumption remains top of mind for Belon each day. She is currently working on an analysis of all the different ways the hotel can reduce its energy consumption—focusing first on areas where there is the potential for maximum impact. When asked if the Peabody Hotel Group is looking at renewable energy sources, she said “yes” and that solar for hot water heating is a future option but she emphasized that priority number one is reducing current energy consumption.
Belon is active on The Peabody Orlando’s green team and is one of three staff persons at the hotel who have earned the LEED Accredited Professional designation. She helps guide the hotel’s Green Ambassadors—volunteers charged with relaying news and instructions from the green team back to the hotel’s departments.
Importance of a Full-time Staff Person
The Peabody Orlando having someone so dedicated to sustainability is “worth its weight in gold,” Belon says, adding that without someone like her on a hotel’s staff, organizations oftentimes just do not have the time to move sustainability initiatives forward. She asks, “Why would you not want to have an associate dedicated full time to sustainability?”
Belon has almost always had an interest in the environment. She was born in Alaska and raised in Oregon. “I am a granola girl from Oregon,” she says.
To learn more about The Peabody Orlando’s green initiatives, click here.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.