Name: Michael Chang
Title: Director of Energy and Sustainability
Company: Host Hotels & Resorts
Years with company: 2.5
Primary responsibilities: He is responsible for the development and implementation of enterprise sustainability and resource management initiatives to improve environmental performance to drive incremental asset value. He also partners with Host’s Corporate Communications team on Corporate Responsibility reporting in the Annual and 10K reports and maintaining leadership in investor driven frameworks such as CDP, GRESB, and NAREIT Leader in the Light.
Company’s most significant sustainability-related accomplishment: “This year we set a Science Based Target for our greenhouse gas emissions goal. We were among the first 20 companies to do so and the first hospitality company. We are trying to prevent a 2 degrees Celsius increase in global temperature.”
Company’s most significant sustainability-related challenge moving forward: “We have already done a lot of the low-hanging fruit. We are looking to get into more complex investments in energy and water conservation.”
BETHESDA, MD.—Driving revenue growth and creating long-term stockholder value is the goal of Host Hotels & Resorts—the largest lodging real estate investment trust (REIT). One of the ways it does that is through green initiatives that improve operational efficiencies and reduce costs. Helping to drive those improvements is Michael Chang, the REIT’s Director of Energy and Sustainability. “Host is a company that understands that sustainability can be good for business,” Chang says.
Chang, who holds a Master’s in International Energy Management and Policy from Columbia University and a BA in Economics from New York University, works on projects that resulted in Host meeting its 2017 greenhouse gas emissions, energy and water goals ahead of schedule. He has also been instrumental in helping Host work toward ISO 14001 certification for its environmental management system. Certification is expected in the first quarter of 2017.
Because Host met its green goals early, it just set new goals for 2020. Using 2008 as a baseline, the REIT aims to reduce Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions per square foot by 28 percent by 2020, reduce energy consumption per square foot by 15 percent, water consumption per occupied room by 25 percent, and divert waste from at least 50 percent of major renovation projects.
Smart Energy Investments
Host reduced Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 24 percent per square foot from 2008 to 2015. “Our previous goal was a 12 percent reduction by 2017,” Chang says. “We met that one a few years early.” Chang attributes the significant reduction in emissions to investments in LED lighting, steam to gas conversions and a transition to renewable power. More than 60 percent of Host’s portfolio now has LED lighting. Earlier this year, Host launched a 500 kilowatt, 1,528 panel solar photovoltaic system at the Fairmont Kea Lani on Maui in Hawaii. The panels will generate 845,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, enough electricity to power 139 homes on Maui. The project is expected to reduce the resort’s current energy demand by more than 10 percent and reduce CO2e emissions by 462 metric tons of CO2e annually.
Host met its goal of a 12 percent reduction in energy consumption per square foot by 2017 by not only investing in systems described above but also HVAC and central plant upgrades, more efficient elevators and escalators, and variable frequency drives.
Chang says Host reached its goal of reducing water consumption per occupied room by 15 percent by 2017 by investing in low-flow water fixtures, smart irrigation systems and water recycling systems.
Waste Reduction Goal Yet to Come
Host’s 2020 goal of diverting waste from at least 50 percent of major renovation projects is more of a soft goal for the company, Chang says, adding that the company’s objective is to set a more specific waste reduction goal in the near future.
Chang, who is a member of the AHLA Sustainability Committee, says he has been interested in sustainability since his first job out of college. When asked about the importance of having someone like himself on board, dedicated full time to green efforts, he said, “It’s pretty important because sustainability continues to be integrated into different aspects of a company…To have someone who understands the framework of sustainability is helpful in moving forward and becoming a leader in this space.”
Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.