PORTLAND, ORE.—The Doubletree Hotel & Executive Meeting Center Portland-Lloyd Center is doing its part to help make Portland one of the greenest meeting destinations in the United States. Host to the Green Meeting Industry Council’s recent Greening the Hospitality Industry Conference, the 476-room hotel is a national leader because of its commitment to sustainable hotel operations.
From the lobby area, where recycling containers can be found, to the back of the house, where food scraps are collected for composting, the Doubletree’s commitment to waste reduction is evident. Purchasing policies ensure that waste and recycled content is considered before anything is bought. Sixty-five percent of food waste is diverted from landfills thanks to a food composting program. According to Michael Luehrs, Director of Operations at the hotel, 14 to 15 tons of food waste a month is composted and eventually converted to a sellable soil mix.
“The Doubletree was the first hotel in the area to adopt composting practices,” Luehrs says. “Recycling is routine here. “It has taken some training and supervision but it is core to what we are about.”
About two-thirds of employees take public transportation. The Doubletree pays for half of the cost. A year ago, the hotel held a “Green Day” on which more than 70 percent of staff participated and traveled 700 miles using sustainable transportation. The hotel eliminated its airport shuttle service and now encourages guests to take Portland’s MAX light rail from the airport to the hotel.
Over the last six years, the Doubletree has invested $245,000 in electricity mitigation. It has resulted in $375,000 in savings. The hotel has invested in energy-efficient lighting, is an Energy Star partner and has purchased 770,000 kWh Pacific Power Blue Sky clean wind energy to date (the equivalent of planting 3,850 trees). The hotel also has quantified its carbon footprint and has set a goal to reduce it by 100 metric tons annually through 2010. A program called Green Tag gives guests the option of offsetting carbon emissions associated with their travel.
Thirty rooms at the hotel have been converted to test green rooms that include 2.0 gpm showerheads, 1.6 gpf toilets and faucet aerators. Cards in every guestroom give guests the option of not having their towels and linens washed each day. The Doubletree partnered with the City of Portland and the Zero Waste Alliance to conduct a water audit to identify inefficiencies.
A tour throughout the hotel provides a glimpse of some of the actions the Doubletree has taken to minimize its environmental impact. On several walls in employee areas, the hotel’s progress has been documented with detailed time lines and charts. Steve Faulstick, general manager, says his employees have been an integral part of the hotel’s success.
“The employees pushed us to make sure our green program was a sincere program,” he says. “From a business standpoint it makes sense but it also helps to create an environment that people like to work in.”
The Doubletree’s Green Team meets the first Wednesday of every month. The hotel’s restaurant manager currently leads the team.
“Our goal is to have a representative of every department at each meeting,” Luehrs says. “They are charged with tracking their progress.”
Food items for the restaurant, meetings and for retail sale are purchased from local vendors when possible. The Doubletree recently added 15 new local vendors, reducing total travel miles of food product to an average of 300 miles. Last year, $334,579 was invested in the local economy, representing a year on year increase of 23 percent. Unused food is donated to Portland’s Blanchet House.
Faulstick says customers wanting to book meetings at the hotel are demanding that there be green practices in place.
“Customers feel good about what we are doing,” Luehrs says. “Groups have come to us because of our green priorities. It is a competitive edge.”
Green Seal Certification
In October, the Doubletree announced that it had earned Green Seal GS-33 Lodging Sustainability Certification. It is the first hotel in Oregon and the largest hotel west of the Mississippi to earn the green hotel designation. The hotel recently announced that it intends to pursue Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Existing Building (LEED-EB) certification.
According to Doug Brecht, director of marketing, the Doubletree’s green efforts have resulted in significant media recognition locally. Networking and speaking opportunities also have transpired because of the green programs. All of the hotel’s efforts have helped push the idea that Portland is one of the best cities to hold green meetings.
Luehrs, Faulstick and Brecht would be the first to admit that they still have much to accomplish to eliminate inefficiencies at their hotel.
“We have learned a lot about what we are not doing,” Faulstick says.
In an application for a local awards program, the Doubletree’s management team states: “The most important point we hope to convey is our understanding that our journey has just begun. With innovation, ambition and humility, we are committed to making a positive difference in our community as we progress on what we regard as our path to sustainability. We see it as our responsibility to meet our aggressive goals for waste reduction, to reduce our carbon footprint, and to serve as a shepherd for other businesses.”