WASHINGTON, D.C.—With the Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group’s EarthCare program as its guide, the 82-room Hotel Madera is quietly making a positive impact with its subtle approach to green hotel operations.
“Our story here is ‘Conscious Living,’” says Marco Scherer, general manager of the Washington, D.C. boutique hotel. “Throughout their entire stay, we try to remind our guests to live in a conscious manner. We let them decide to what degree they want to participate.”
Opened as a Kimpton hotel five years ago, the Hotel Madera has been a green hotel for just a couple of years. The property is owned by Bethesda, Md.-based LaSalle Hotel Properties. Scherer says Kimpton often uses the Hotel Madera to test its green programs.
An EarthCare Committee consisting of five hotel employees meets monthly to discuss environmental initiatives. On a quarterly basis, the committee meets with their counterparts from Kimpton’s other D.C. area hotels to share ideas. Scherer says Kimpton also consults with Jeff Slye, founder of San Francisco-based Business Evolution Consulting, to help develop its EarthCare programs.
Healthy Environment Emphasized
From housekeeping to the hotel’s restaurant, efforts are made to provide guests and staff with a healthy environment. Smoking is not permitted. Natural cleaning fluids from Sierra Environmental Technologies are used by housekeepers—a change the housekeepers welcomed.
“Previously, housekeepers got rashes from the cleaning chemicals,” Scherer says. “That does not happen anymore.”
The hotel provides a hybrid Zip Car on-site for guests. Guests can rent the vehicle for just $10/hour. Guests who arrive to the hotel in a hybrid may park their vehicles for free. Recycling containers are included in every guestroom. Back-of-the-house recycling includes paper, cardboard, bottles and cans. The entire property is equipped with water-saving showerheads, sink aerators and toilets. Guests are given the option to have their towels or linens washed each day.
To save on paper waste, phone books recently were removed from each room. Guests who have phone number questions now call the front desk. Bathroom soaps, shampoos and conditioners are made by Aveda. Fair Trade organic Divine Chocolate bars or organic wines are examples of amenities given to InTouch (loyalty program) members. The hotel offers a Green Goddess Package that includes organic wine and chocolates and a gift basket of organic spa products.
Guests staying at the Hotel Madera have access to a City Eco-Guide, which includes a comprehensive list of organic/eco-friendly restaurants and boutique shopping. Uniform and dry cleaning coat hangers are recycled back to the dry cleaning company. Reusable clothing bags are used to send out and return dry cleaning to the hotel.
Energy Management Focus in 2007
Scherer says the hotel has a number of energy-saving projects in the works for 2007.
“This year, we will be investing in a guestroom energy management system with centralized controls,” he says. “We also plan to put nightlights in every guest bathroom.”
The recent addition of a variable frequency drive to the cooling tower is saving the hotel 15,000 kW of electricity a year. Motion sensors in housekeeping closets automatically turn off lighting when housekeepers are not present.
Scherer says “conscious living” comes natural to him because of his California upbringing and the influence of Eastern philosophy on his thinking.
“I was taught that there are consequences to everything you do,” he says.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.