Name: Emma Jacobs
Title: Social Purpose and Sustainability Manager
Company: Legacy Vacation Resorts
Years in Current Position: Two years
Primary Responsibility: “Leading our Social Purpose initiatives, getting our teams involved, volunteering, doing cleanups, fostering a healthy ecosystem. We have a heavy focus on electrifying and transitioning to renewable energy.”
Organization’s most significant accomplishment in social purpose and sustainability: “We are ever-focused on the future with ambitious goals including getting to Net Zero carbon emissions by 2030, reducing water usage per check-in (UPC) 25 percent and energy UPC 10 percent by 2025, and achieving 100 percent renewable energy company-wide by 2030. We are well on our way there.”
Organization’s most significant challenge moving forward in social purpose and sustainability: “The solar projects. It can be expensive, and funding can be a challenge. We are being smart in how we pursue these projects.”
ORLANDO, FLA.—While a student at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, Emma Jacobs designed and launched an internship program where she trained 27 interns to guide seven businesses through the B Corp certification process. B Corp is a high-standard business certification representing a company’s commitment to creating positive social and environmental impact, from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials. That is just one of the reasons Jacobs is a perfect fit for the position of Social Purpose and Sustainability Manager at Legacy Vacation Resorts, itself a B Corp.
Jacobs’ passion for sustainability took root in high school and then flourished in college. “I heard a quote that changed me,” she says. “One hundred companies are responsible for 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. I was both inspired and infuriated. It shifted my focus to B Corp.”
Legacy Vacation Resorts is the first multi-state resort hospitality company in the U.S to achieve B Corp Certification. It is just one of many of the company’s accomplishments—highlighted at its eight properties in Florida (4), Colorado (2), Nevada (1), and New Jersey (1).
One significant short-term goal for the company, Jacobs says, is to achieve 40 percent renewable energy by the end of 2024. Last month a new solar panel array was introduced at Legacy Vacation Resorts’ Lake Buena Vista, Fla. property. Phase one of that project will generate over 87,000 kWh of power annually. Along with power generated from off-site solar panels from Duke Energy’s Clean Energy Connection program, 59 percent of the resort’s electricity is now powered by clean, renewable energy. With the addition of the Lake Buena Vista installation, all four Florida properties now have solar.
“We can’t do solar on all rooftops,” Jacobs says. “We are looking at community solar where on-site solar is not possible.”
Guest Stays & Activities Offsetted
With its goal of getting to Net Zero by 2030, Legacy Vacation Resorts is continuing to reduce energy consumption at each property. It already offsets 100 percent of guest stays and activities. A guestroom energy management system keeps heating and cooling costs low, as does LED lighting, Energy Star rated appliances, high-efficiency windows, and much more.
On the water efficiency side, Jacobs says Legacy Vacation Resorts is only purchasing low-flow fixtures for renovations and manually lowering water in older toilets waiting to be replaced.
Keeping track of all utility activity can be a challenge but Jacobs says an investment in online software combined with the company’s own spreadsheets has made tracking easier. “All our resort managers have access to the platform,” Jacobs says.
Among the waste reduction efforts at Legacy Vacation Resorts properties are wooden key cards, the handing out of reusable water bottles to all guests, the installation of water refill stations across each property, switching to aluminum cans for beverages in F&B operations, and using refillable dispensers in all guest bathrooms. The water bottle program, launched in 2018, has resulted in the avoidance of more than 50,000 plastic bottles so far.
Leader of Social Purpose Champions Team
As part of her responsibilities, Jacobs leads the Social Purpose Champions Team. It includes representatives from every property and the corporate office. Getting associates involved in the local community is important to Legacy Vacation Resorts. “We love to volunteer and are setting ambitious goals,” Jacobs says. Associates contributed 2,069 hours of volunteer time in 2022 and the goal is 2,100 this year. All corporate team members volunteer and 50 percent of employees. Activities have included school supply donation and the adopting of a trail at the company’s Palm Coast, Fla. property.
Guest participation is key to the success of many Legacy Vacation Resorts initiatives. To guide guests, signage is placed in visible locations, an educational video plays on guestroom TVs, and guests are given the option of making an environmental donation at check-in or on the company site. Donations to go the company’s carbon offset fund, used to pay for carbon offset projects that absorb the company’s carbon emissions through tree plantings and other projects. Jacobs says 5 percent of guests choose to donate and a contest is being created for front desk associates to reward them for every 10 guest donations.
“We also share a lot on social media, where we can be found as @legacyresorts on Instagram and Legacy Vacation Resorts on Facebook and YouTube,” Jacobs adds.
When asked what she enjoys most about working in her current position, Jacobs said, “I love working with our team. We have individuals with so much passion. The B Corp certification is my favorite part of my job, where we recently recertified with the highest score in the North American hospitality industry.”
Legacy Vacation Resorts continues to pave the way for a more sustainable and regenerative hospitality industry with a focus on people and the planet.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.