Name: Emily Smith
Title: Director, Corporate Strategy
Company: Park Hotels & Resorts
Years in Current Position: 2.5 years
Primary Responsibilities: “I am in the corporate strategy group—a two-person team. I help investors invest in our company, work on our earnings reports, and help maintain our website. Over the past six months my job has evolved to include ESG (environmental, social, governance). ESG has become about 50 percent of my duties.”
Organization’s most significant sustainability-related accomplishment: “The installation of Melink Intelli-hood systems in all kitchen exhaust and make-up units at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. The savings have been incredible—an annual energy reduction savings of more than 800,000 kWh.”
Organization’s most significant sustainability-related challenge moving forward: “We are looking at building automation systems—the ability to make our buildings a lot more efficient.”
TEMECULA, CALIF.—Everything is uncharted territory, and that is a good thing. So says Emily Smith, Director, Corporate Strategy for Park Hotels & Resorts, seven months after she took on ESG as a significant portion of her role with Park. Smith is in a unique position—leading one of the United States’ largest publicly-traded REITs into the world of corporate responsibility.
It was about 2.5 years ago that Park was formed as an independent company after its spin-off from Hilton. Since then the company has incorporated corporate social responsibility (CSR) into all that it does, including the implementation of environmental and social programs and the development and execution of sustainable investment strategies. For Smith, who has a background in finance, it is an opportunity to build on what has been a personal interest of hers for a long time.
Given its large portfolio of Hilton properties, Park benefits significantly from Hilton’s Travel With Purpose program but it has also cultivated its own CSR strategies. “It is a time when we have to pay attention to sustainability,” Smith says.
Park’s commitment to CSR runs deep. According to the company’s recently released Corporate Responsibility Report, it recognizes the importance of an ESG lens in all that it does—in areas such as energy, water, waste and more.
Example of Energy Management Commitment
In addition to the Hilton Hawaiian Village energy-saving example, in its Corporate Responsibility Report Park highlights the New York Hilton Midtown. That hotel installed a cogeneration plant that provides more than 50 percent of its electrical power and more than 40 percent of the steam needed for heating and hot water requirements.
“We are just forming an energy committee,” Smith says. “We have a third-party consultant who sits on it—also our head of design and construction. They work very closely with Hilton.”
An example of a significant water-saving investment, Smith says, is the AquaRecycle laundry wastewater recycling system that has been installed in many of Park’s hotels. According to AquaRecycle, that system recycles 100 percent of laundry wastewater. “We are looking to install more,” Smith says.
All properties within the portfolio utilize stormwater pollution prevention systems, which can include rainwater collection, rain gardens, water detaining ponds and pervious paving. Forty-five percent of properties within the portfolio have drought tolerant landscaping on at least 50 percent of the property’s landscaping.
Smith says Park’s current waste diversion rate is 25 percent. All properties adhere to local laws and regulations regarding the disposal of waste, including recycling and composting. “We don’t have any large initiatives right now,” Smith says. “We have a lot of properties that do a lot of interesting things.”
Environmental Metrics Tracked Through LightStay
Park promotes health and well-being measures at all properties within its portfolio using natural ventilation, day lighting and air and water quality monitoring. All Park hotel properties (all Hilton branded) within its portfolio track their environmental metrics through Hilton’s LightStay, an ISO 14001 certified environmental management system.
Internally, Park provides its employees with health and wellness programs, embraces diversity and inclusion, provides training and education, and supports several organizations through charitable donations, sponsorship donations and/or volunteer hours.
“We have done volunteering with Habitat for Humanity,” Smith says. “Through Hilton’s Travel with Purpose initiative there have also been a lot of activities.”
Earlier this year, Park adopted and published Environmental and Human Rights policies and adopted and published a Vendor Code of Conduct to ensure its suppliers are conducting business in a manner that aligns with its values and commitment to responsible business practices.
Always a Lover of Travel
Smith says she has always been a lover of travel. “When you do that, you can see the impact business can have on the environment,” she says.
When asked what she enjoys most about her work, Smith says, “It is exciting to learn as you go.”
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.