Home Publisher's Point of View Cross-Industry Idea Swapping is Focus of Better Buildings Challenge Program

Cross-Industry Idea Swapping is Focus of Better Buildings Challenge Program


At the Publix supermarket where I shop here in Florida, there are aisles of refrigerated display cases that go dark when there are no customers in those aisles. As a customer enters the aisle, the lighting begins to come on, but only in those cases that are closest to the customer. A great idea. Could this technology be used somewhere in a hotel? Certainly. Not only in display cases but also in seldom used spaces such as stairways and perhaps even back-of-house areas. A lesson learned from visiting the local supermarket.

Learning lessons across industries is the point of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge SWAP. I wrote about the program this past week and “Season One,” as the DOE is describing it, launched on February 17. In Season One, actually a three-day event last December, Hilton Worldwide and Whole Foods Market swapped energy teams in order to uncover new energy efficiency strategies and further accelerate their own companies’ energy efficiency goals. The SWAP program reflects the goals of the Better Buildings challenge: help companies cut energy use and share strategies with their peers.

During the three-day SWAP, Hilton leaders visited the Whole Foods Market Ocean Avenue in San Francisco. In addition, officials from Whole Foods Market visited the Hilton San Francisco Union Square. Each visit was captured on video. Energy teams were given the opportunity to identify energy-saving opportunities at each other’s properties. In a press release about the SWAP, Lynn Orr, Under Secretary for Science and Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy, said, “A fresh set of knowledgeable eyes would likely help us all to be more efficient.”

Walk-Through Results in Energy-Saving Ideas

Among those touring the Whole Foods Market for Hilton Worldwide were Randy Gaines, Vice President of Operations and New Development for the Americas, and Maxime Verstraete, Vice President of Sustainability, Hilton Worldwide. Gaines was able to identify opportunities for energy savings in a walk-in cooler, where there was air leakage, and on the roof of the Whole Foods Market building, where he noticed an opportunity to recapture exhaust that had already been conditioned and bring it back into the supply side.

Gaines says he noticed there were opportunities for Whole Foods Market to better maximize its daylighting opportunities. “They also had some LED opportunities,” he says. The store was quite cold, Gaines adds. He suggested there might be opportunities to better balance air and have better covers on refrigerated cases.

“We talked to them about rebates we had gotten,” Gaines says. “We looked at team member engagement. They could learn a lot from how we train our team members.”

During his walk-through of the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, Tristam Coffin, Sustainable Facilities Coordinator for Whole Foods Market, identified missing air curtains at the entrance of a walk-in cooler.

Lighting Control Opportunities

“In the kitchen spaces we were able to make recommendations on adding hood controls and VFDs, as well as retrofitting EC motors on evaporator coil fans in the walk-in refrigerators,” Coffin says. “There were also opportunities to better control plug loads and upgrade lighting controls and fixtures in conference spaces and guestrooms. Lastly, we identified some optimization opportunities for the building’s chillers.”

As a result of the SWAP, the Hilton Worldwide team has already started implementing several recommendations, including LED lighting upgrades, door gasket replacements, and the phase-out of less efficient appliances within refrigerated containers at Hilton Union Square. The Whole Foods team is exploring the implementation of employee engagement strategies inspired by what they saw at Hilton Union Square.

I often read about hotels offering eco-tours to potential customers or existing guests but exchanging energy teams across industries is rare. It should happen more often. Whole Foods Market’s Tristam Coffin could not have said it any better: “While it’s easy to think you’ve covered all the bases in your own facility, there is so much more to gain when you compare strategies and lessons learned with a team from a completely different line of work. Sharing best practices doesn’t get more hands-on than this.”

Green Lodging News Adds Conectric as Directory Partner

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Earth Hour & Earth Day

Earth Hour is slated for March 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. local time. Earth Day is April 22. How will your organization be marking these occasions this year? I would love to know. Call me at (813) 510-3868, or e-mail editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

Sustain 2016 Conference

I will be moderating a panel discussion at Sustain 2016, the Mid-Atlantic’s Annual Hospitality Conference. The event will take place March 14 to 15 at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino in Dover, Del. The title of my session: “Innovation All Stars: Case Studies of Three Companies Determined to Make Our World More Sustainable.” Panelists will include: William F. Kratzer, Chief Technology Officer, BioHitech; Justin Fishkin, Chief Strategy Officer, Local Motors; and Micah Green, CEO, Maidbot. I will look forward to seeing you at this event.

Who is Your Sustainability Champion?

Green Lodging News is always looking to profile sustainability champions in our Personnel Profile section. If you would like to nominate someone for this section of Green Lodging News, contact me at (813) 510-3868, or by e-mail at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

Looking for Guest Columnists

Every two weeks Green Lodging News posts a new guest column on its website. (Click here for examples.) The guest column also appears in the weekly e-newsletter. Green Lodging News is currently in need of industry experts to contribute occasional guest columns. Experts may include consultants, architects, designers, suppliers and those who own or operate green lodging establishments. Columns may be articles that take a stance on a particular subject or be strictly educational in nature. Columnists benefit by having their photo included along with a one paragraph description of their company. Interested in writing a column? Contact Glenn Hasek, publisher and editor, at (813) 510-3868, or by e-mail at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

Planning Advertising for 2016?

Green Lodging News is accepting reservations for advertising spots for 2016. Many excellent spots are available on the website and in the weekly e-mail newsletter. Many Green Supplier Spotlight dates are also available. Interested in receiving a 2016 media kit? Be sure to contact me as soon as possible at (813) 510-3868, or by e-mail at editor@greenlodgingnews.com. Media kits can also be accessed by clicking here. Thank you to all of those companies that consistently support Green Lodging News.

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As always, I can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.