Home Publisher's Point of View Three Companies Make Major Commitment to Green Home Offices

Three Companies Make Major Commitment to Green Home Offices

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Three of the largest U.S.-based hotel companies—Hilton Hotels Corp., Wyndham Worldwide and Marriott International—are now walking their green talk at home in their headquarters offices. Hilton just relocated its headquarters from Beverly Hills, Calif., to a LEED Gold certified building in the Tysons Corner area of McLean, Va. Wyndham, which opened its new headquarters in a brand new building in Parsippany, N.J., earlier this year, is pursuing LEED for Commercial Interiors for the structure. Marriott International, which did not move into a new building this year, is pursuing LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance for its home offices in Bethesda, Md.

“The opening of our new global headquarters marks the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in our company’s rich history,” said Christopher J. Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton Hotels Corp., in a release concerning his company’s move. (See related article.)

Hilton’s headquarters building is owned by the B.F. Saul Real Estate Investment Trust. According to a representative of the company, the building received its LEED Gold designation just two months ago. What makes Hilton’s building LEED-worthy? It includes a reflective roof, low-flow plumbing fixtures that allow it to use 40 percent less water than a comparable non-LEED building, a 10,000-gallon cistern for rainwater and air conditioner condensate capture, sustainable wood in doors and lobby millwork, highly energy efficient windows, special parking for low-emitting vehicles, and showers for those who wish to bicycle to work. During construction of the 11-story, 323,000-square-foot building, 97 percent of construction waste was diverted from the landfill. These are just a few examples of the building’s green features.

Wyndham’s Headquarters Complex

Wyndham Worldwide’s headquarters also includes a reflective roof. During its construction, about 80 percent of construction material was diverted from the local landfill. Numerous elements make the headquarters building efficient. Heating and cooling systems are zoned, energy-efficient lighting and motion sensors were installed, large windows maximize the potential for natural light to enter, low-flow toilets and faucets keep water consumption down, well water is used for irrigation, low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint, carpeting and furniture was used throughout, and cubicle walls consist of recycled steel and aluminum and 100 percent recycled particleboard.

To encourage employees to drive less, amenities such as a gym, green dry cleaner (Green Apple Organic Dry Cleaning), credit union, café and cafeteria, and gift shop with items such as milk and eggs help reduce the amount of miles employees have to drive. Bike racks and convenient access to public mass transit encourage alternate transportation. According to Faith Taylor, vice president, sustainability and innovation for Wyndham Worldwide, such amenities, plus the overall excitement of working in a new, healthy building, have greatly contributed to an increase in overall employee morale.

Wyndham is experiencing from 10 to 30 percent in efficiency improvements in the various green components it has invested in for its headquarters. It was recently recognized as a “Green Pioneer” by ConEdison Solutions for its commitment to environmental preservation and for purchasing renewable energy. Wyndham’s headquarters is 100 percent powered by wind through ConEdison. (Hilton’s headquarters is 70 percent powered by green power.) Wyndham expects to earn a LEED Silver rating for its headquarters building by early 2010. (See related article.)

Marriott Aims to Reduce Waste

As part of its efforts to green its headquarters, Marriott International is diverting 64 percent of its total waste from the landfill through recycling. The total waste stream has been reduced by 203 tons since 2006. Marriott headquarters is poised to save $65,000 over the next three years with the elimination of all disposables from the cafeteria. Marriott is shifting to biodegradable disposable containers in its cafeteria, and then ultimately migrating to all permanent-ware. Automatic, low-flow faucets and toilets have reduced Marriott’s total water consumption by 17 percent.

Energy-efficient lighting has yielded $155,000 in electricity savings. Sustainable products, including paper and cleaning products, have eliminated in excess of 20 tons of waste annually. A building-wide composting program ensures waste is sent to a compost farm rather than a landfill. Through a partnership with Hertz Green Collection, Marriott has three hybrid cars parked in its lots for employees to use for meetings and appointments. Last year, Marriott announced its environmental strategy to address climate change, which it calls its “Spirit To Preserve.” Part of that plan calls for greening its $10 billion supply chain. Marriott expects to earn its LEED designation by the end of this year.

It is exciting to see our industry’s largest hotel companies commit to eco-efficiency at the headquarters level. If you have a home office “green” story to share—no matter the size of your headquarters—give me a call at (440) 243-2055 or e-mail editor@greenlodgingnews.com. I will be sure to include the information in a future column.

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