BOULDER, COLO.—At the luxurious 201-room St. Julien Hotel & Spa in Boulder, Colo., there are many success stories but perhaps the greatest is the property’s waste reduction initiative. According to James P. Farrell, Sustainability Coordinator, in 2007 the property disposed of almost 700,000 pounds of materials. Over the last decade that number has been axed to 400,000 pounds annually thanks to training, recycling, composting, careful purchasing and many different donation programs. A composting program alone has reduced compostable material to landfill from 33 tons a month to just 3.5 tons.
The St. Julien Hotel & Spa employs a part-time waste diversion associate. “That person explains the basis of waste diversion, does waste diversion refreshers, waste audits and spot checks,” Farrell says. Training is critical to the program’s success and an on-property green team with representatives from each department meets quarterly to share ideas and monitor progress. “The theory is you have representatives from each department who are engaged,” Farrell says. “As those people go back into their department, they act as internal sustainability leaders within their department.”
When asked to provide an example of a training activity that has had impact, Farrell highlighted the work of associates in food and beverage areas who have been trained to separate recyclables, compostables and disposables. “Training on the bin system is important,” Farrell says. “We spent a lot of time training during high-traffic time.”
Associates are meticulous about recycling and composting and last year’s 78 percent waste diversion rate is proof. Glass, metal, paper and cardboard are recycled. Forty percent of the waste stream is compostable items. That material is taken by Eco-Cycle, a local nonprofit. Simple steps such as offering opt-in newspaper delivery and switching from disposable towels to linen towels in public restrooms have made a significant impact.
Pillows Donated to Nonprofits
“Any time we are going to dispose of something that does not fit into recycling or composting categories, we try to find another use for it,” Farrell says. “We replaced all pillows last year. We donated them to a couple of nonprofits.”
In addition to donating discarded soaps and other hygiene amenities to Clean the World, the hotel now donates mini bar food, slippers, pillows, wine corks and guest service uniforms. Each item has a unique story after it leaves the hotel. When it replaced its ATM in 2015, the hotel found a local artist to use the ATM in a project. At the Boulder Shelter, residents are required to wear shoes for safety reasons. With St. Julien slippers every shelter resident has comfortable indoor footwear. In December 2015, St. Julien Hotel & Spa partnered with the Boulder Boost Project. Designed by a group of University of Colorado students, Boulder Boost uses the University’s resources, such as the career services office, to provide cover letter writing, resume building and interview coaching workshops to homeless and low income individuals. The hotel donated 40 of its guest service uniforms to Boulder Boost, providing participants with interview appropriate clothing.
It is not just in waste management that St. Julien Hotel & Spa has made progress. From 2009 to 2015 the property reduced electricity usage per occupied room by 27 percent and natural gas usage per occupied room by 38 percent. Annual water usage per occupied room over the same time period has been cut by 11 percent. Steps taken that have been particularly effective include: soft start scheduling to reduce peak demand, LED lighting, variable frequency drives on motors, sub-metering, occupancy sensors, 2.0 gpf toilets, linen conservation program, low flow pre-rinse spray valves, overnight irrigation scheduling, and the use of building automation software.
St. Julien Hotel & Spa’s commitment to sustainability is reflected in its purchasing and in its community involvement. This year the hotel hosted the City of Boulder Earth Hour event and it hosts a bike to work day throughout the year. The property is an Environmental Leader in Colorado and has won numerous awards including the 2015 Colorado Hotel & Lodging Association’s Stars of the Industry Award for Good Earthkeeping.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.