CHEVY CHASE, MD.—One of the fastest growing hotel management companies in the United States—PM Hotel Group—also happens to be one of the ones most committed to corporate responsibility. The Chevy Chase, Md.-based company has its own Director of Sustainability + Facilities (Christie Berlin), manages four LEED hotels, including one LEED Platinum (Home2 Suites by Hilton Silver Spring, Md.) and purchases 100 percent green energy.
“We started 10 years ago with 11 hotels,” Berlin says. “We now manage 51 and are working on three development projects at the moment.”
“This company has always been committed to corporate responsibility,” Berlin adds. “It definitely started with the owner and chairman and president. It was always a priority for them.”
When working with owners building new hotels, PM Hotel Group always recommends LEED and assists with the process. “LEED is easiest for new construction,” Berlin says.
Four Hotels with Solar Arrays
Unique to its portfolio of managed hotels are its four hotels with solar arrays. They include the Home2 Suites by Hilton Silver Spring (60 kW), Westminster Hotel in Livingston, N.J. (80 kW), Hilton Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J. (1.1 MW), and Hilton Baltimore BWI Airport Hotel (52 kW).
PM Hotel Group made the commitment to purchase 100 percent green energy through the EPA’s Green Power Partnership last year. “We are purchasing RECs either bundled or unbundled,” Berlin says. “We will be 100 percent green in 2021 as well.”
Many of the operational steps the company is taking to reduce energy, water and waste are quite familiar to Berlin, who was department head of the facilities department prior to adding the sustainability part of her title a few years ago.
She cited the HOTEL DUPONT, built in 1913 and managed by PM Hotel Group, as a renovation success thanks to LEDs throughout, smart thermostats, smart exhaust controls, a building automation system, variable frequency drives, and an overall upgrade to the hotel’s HVAC system. Thanks to a PACE loan that helped finance the updates, the hotel will experience an annual savings of $360,000. “It was our first time doing a PACE loan,” Berlin says.
At the Embassy Suites Dulles North, investments in systems such as low-flow showerheads and rainwater irrigation have resulted in a 22 percent reduction in water consumption.
All Hotels Donate to Clean the World
From a waste management perspective, PM Hotel Group has recycling as a standard. “We have some doing composting,” Berlin says. “Twenty percent of the portfolio have at least one hydration station in the hotel.” Eliminating single-use plastic and packaging is also a priority and PM Hotel Group properties donate their partially used soap to Clean the World.
To address the pandemic, PM Hotel Group launched PMxPM: Peace of Mind by PM Hotel Group in June 2020. That process included the creation of a “Playbook for pandemic response,” Berlin says. “It addressed everything from cleaning procedures to PPE to sanitizer to guest messaging. We continue to update the playbook. It was important to have policies and practices in place in one place.”
PM Hotel Group had been providing mental health assistance to employees but Berlin says the company recently started offering additional mental health services through an app.” To assist employees financially impacted by the pandemic, a fund was launched.
What the Pandemic Revealed
Interestingly, it was during this time of heightened hygiene awareness and low occupancy that the company learned a bit about its hotels’ energy consumption.
“We closed entire floors and HVAC systems,” Berlin says. “We were surprised at how much electricity and gas is consumed even at low occupancy. There’s really not a close correlation between electricity and occupancy.” She cited the major mechanicals needed to run public areas as one reason. “It highlights an opportunity—especially in older buildings,” she says.
Partnership with One Tree Planted
Last year PM Hotel Group partnered with One Tree Planted and committed to plant 1,000 trees annually. It is a project to which employees can now donate. Berlin says the program is one example of how the company attracts and retains talent.
Looking forward, Berlin says she intends to focus on eliminating single-use plastic and finding ways to divert food waste. “As F&B comes back, there’s a lot of ways to think about food waste,” she says.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.