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NEWH’s Sustainability Committee Breaks New Ground with Resource Guide

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NATIONAL REPORT—“Leading the hospitality industry in promoting education, inter-cooperation, and endorsed policies for environmentally responsible practices, construction methods, materials and environments.” That is the mission of the Network of Executive Women in Hospitality’s Sustainability Committee. Formed last year, the committee currently includes 11 members representing design, architecture, purchasing, manufacturing, and hotel asset management.

“Two years ago, NEWH recognized the need to get involved in sustainability,” says Jillian Van Dresser, principal, The Van Dresser Co. in Atlanta and the committee’s sustainability adviser. “We identified several initiatives, the first of which is a Resource Directory.”

Now available on the organization’s website, the directory includes a list of vendors committed to environmental responsibility in areas such as recycling, resource efficiency, indoor air quality, green cleaning, sustainable design, and community involvement. Leading the development of the directory were Sharry Cooper, Architectural Alliance, Minneapolis, and David Mahood, Olive Designs, Greensboro, N.C.

Directory participants are asked to complete an application that includes space for an Environmental Ethics statement. Several pages of “check box” questions also are included. The directory is divided into four categories: Hotel/Restaurant Owners and Operators; Manufacturers; Service Providers (architecture, interior design and procurement); and General (applicable to all categories).

Free Listing Opportunity

NEWH is offering basic listings free to vendors. These include company name, phone number, directory checklist information and Environmental Ethics statement. For a fee of $50, company contact, address, website, e-mail address and fax can be included. Payment of $75 will get participants the above plus logo placement.

Olive Designs’ Mahood says the directory, which includes approximately 150 companies, is targeted toward architects, designers and purchasers but it is open to participation from any vendor.

“We want to encourage as much disclosure as possible,” Mahood says. “By having a comprehensive questionnaire, we thought we could better serve our customers. We wanted to ask companies what they stood for. Nobody was listed without an ethics statement.”

Mahood says that some of the directory participants were forced to consider their overall environmental stance for the first time, and how they should balance environmental responsibility with profitability.

“The more we can get companies to reveal, the more valuable this will be,” Mahood says.

Dresser says the directory will help designers see through a lot of the greenwashing that exists.

“You get so much information that is incorrect,” she says. “We ask every manufacturer who comes in our office what is sustainable about their products.”

Online, Print Publication Focus

NEWH intends to market the directory at tradeshows, in its e-zine Inside NEWH, and in its printed NEWH Magazine. Sections in future issues of NEWH’s publications will be dedicated to sustainability.

In addition to the directory, the Sustainability Committee has worked to develop programs for which designers can achieve continuing education units. It also has worked with manufacturers to establish scholarships and recently partnered with Florida International University to develop a program to help students learn about sustainable design.

When asked what frustrates her most about the lodging industry and its reaction to sustainable products and design, Dresser says there still is a misperception that environmentally friendly products and green design are neither affordable nor comfortable.

“The truth is that they are very affordable and very aesthetic,” she says.

Go to NEWH.

Glenn Hasek can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

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