MIAMI—One would not expect a property’s environmental champion to come out of the security department but that is what has happened at the 221-room Four Seasons Hotel Miami. It was about four and one-half years ago that Bob O’Neill, directory of security, expressed an interest in helping the hotel with its recycling. What he did not realize at the time was that he would end up leading the charge to get the hotel certified under the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Lodging Program.
“I brought my own personal interest in the environment to this hotel,” O’Neill says. “I had spent many years in California where it was common to be religious about things such as recycling.”
The Four Seasons Hotel Miami’s environmental impact is significant. It is part of a 70-story mixed-used development overseeing Biscayne Bay. It includes a restaurant, two lounges, and 50,000-square-foot spa.
The luxury property’s green program initially started with cardboard recycling. A separate container was purchased to collect the cardboard. It was filled twice a week. A baler was later purchased. O’Neill says the baler pays for itself because the hotel is paid for its cardboard. To further reduce waste volume destined for a landfill, glass, plastic and metal cans are collected in 90-gallon containers for recycling and newspaper, shredded paper and white office paper are also recycled. Each guestroom includes a recycling container and unused amenity bottles are collected and donated to an area mission.
“Our regular trash volume has been cut in half,” says O’Neill, who adds that associates also collect toner cartridges and batteries for recycling.
Hotel Earns One Palm from DEP
After being asked by the hotel’s general manager to lead the property’s environmental efforts, O’Neill formed a green team and began pushing toward achieving the One Palm Designation from the Florida Green Lodging Program. The team meets once every six weeks. The Four Seasons Hotel Miami met the DEP’s criteria for One Palm by demonstrating best management practices in areas such as communication, water conservation, energy efficiency, waste reduction and clean air.
The hotel features low-flow toilets and showerheads in guestrooms and automatic faucets and toilets in public restrooms. An automated energy management system ensures that air-conditioning is kept as energy-efficient as possible throughout the building. As part of their efforts to qualify for Two Palm Designation by the DEP, the hotel is currently installing energy-efficient fluorescent lighting in back-of-house areas and will be replacing its chlorine-based pool treatment system with a less hazardous mineral-based one.
Natural, non-ammoniated cleaning products are used on the property and a Green Hotline was established for guests and staff interested in reporting issues or offering suggestions. To gain staff buy-in, new employees are educated about the green program during orientation. A bulletin board provides updates to staff, and guests can learn about the hotel’s efforts in the in-room guest directory. As part of one recent staff education campaign, some employees were recognized as environmental super heroes.
Like many luxury hotels, the Four Seasons Hotel Miami has not yet taken the step to introduce a towel and linen reuse program, and compact fluorescents are not currently used in guestrooms.
“I am working on a towel and linen reuse program as an option,” O’Neill says.
More than four years ago, while sorting recyclables at the Four Seasons Hotel Miami, O’Neill probably never imagined that he would eventually be helping other hotels with their green programs. That is exactly what happened; he has been asked to help properties throughout southern Florida.
Go to the Four Seasons Hotel Miami.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.