SAINT CHARLES, MO.—About 10 years ago, David Oakey realized he needed to change. As the founder of David Oakey Designs, an independent design and marketing firm specializing in the carpet and textile industries, Oakey was fed up with the waste that went into the design, production and disposal of his firm’s products.
“I had a choice: Either I change the way I looked at designing or I leave the industry,” Oakey says. “I accepted the choice to be environmentally responsible in the design process—to bring the concept of sustainability into everything I do.
“We will not have that choice in the future,” Oakey adds. “If you do not practice sustainability in your business, you will not be able to compete.”
Since Oakey made his “green realization,” he has gone on to share his vision of sustainable design with Fortune 500 companies such as Nike, Ford, Wal-Mart, as well as many of the nation’s top universities. He has been featured as a leading innovator in Business Week, Fortune, Green Futures magazine, and many other publications.
Oakey will share his philosophy of sustainability with the hospitality industry at the Green Hospitality Conference (www.greenhospitality.net) scheduled for March 14 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. The event is being hosted by Cleveland-based Lodging Hospitality magazine and Saint Charles, Mo.-based Pineapple Hospitality Inc.
Variety of Conference Topics
The conference will focus on green lodging opportunities, from energy management to earth-friendly cleaning products, as well as the challenges facing hotel owners and operators seeking to become more involved in the growing industry movement toward sustainability. The conference features interactive sessions on topics such as green hospitality, design and construction, and green power, as well as roundtable discussions on energy efficiency, water conservation, indoor air quality and waste reduction and recycling.
Oakey’s featured speech will tackle the concept of Biomimicry—learning how nature itself can be used as a guide for business practices, design and a model for a way of life.
“There is more awareness of sustainability in the world today, with all the news about global warming and fossil fuels, but we’ve been slow to change the way we’ve been doing business for the past 30 years,” Oakey says. “We need to begin working together to make change happen. One company cannot be completely sustainable on its own.”
“We are all connected in business, in the environment and in bringing awareness to the public,” Oakey adds. “Through events like the Green Hospitality Conference, we can start to make change happen.”
The Green Hospitality Conference will be one of the first events in the lodging industry to be certified as “carbon neutral,” an initiative administered by Sustainable Travel International (STI) in which sponsors provide funds to offset carbon emissions produced during the conference and support renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in the United States.
“We believe that elevating awareness about green hotel design, construction and operations is the single strongest thing we can do to get hoteliers involved in environmental issues and sustainable hospitality,” says Gary Dietz, Lodging Hospitality publisher. “We also understand that hotel stays and air travel contribute significantly to global warming. Demonstrating that carbon impacts can be offset sends an important message to hotel owners, operators and major hotel brands.”
Ray Burger, President of Pineapple Hospitality, is proud that his company is involved in the carbon-neutral Green Hospitality Conference, helping educate the industry on the importance of sustainable design and operations.
An Industry Starting Point
“Becoming a carbon-neutral event demonstrates that the Green Hospitality Conference is about much more than words—that we’re truly dedicated to changing the way we look at, and conduct, business,” Burger says. “By working together in education, design, product development and awareness, we can reach a future where sustainability is not a concept to be strived for, but a given in everything we do.”
“A number of tourism-related events and conferences have offset greenhouse-gas impacts associated with event facilities, and others offer attendees voluntary opportunities to offset greenhouse gases, but this will be the first carbon-neutral Green Hospitality Conference,” says STI President Brian T. Mullis. “As an education-based event, we collaborated with Lodging Hospitality and Pineapple Hospitality, organizers of the Green Hospitality Conference, on how they could take a leadership position in addressing the issue and offer best practice ideas and options to the industry—and they rose to the occasion.”
Oakey stresses with the growing awareness of sustainability and environmentalism, now is the time to implement change—to be out front in showing your dedication to nature.
“Just look at how Toyota took to this message of sustainable design and how it has benefited them,” Oakey says. “They are so far ahead on hybrid cars—in technology and in public awareness—that American auto makers may never be able to catch up with them.
“The hospitality industry, and all other sectors, really need to look at bringing sustainability to the forefront as a business opportunity,” Oakey adds. “You shouldn’t wait for consumers to ask for it, or for the government to regulate it, or until it is too late and we’ve run out of fossil fuels.”
Click here for Green Hospitality Conference details.