Name: Tracy Marks
Title: General Manager
Hotel: Hilton Portland & Executive Tower
Number of years with Hilton: 24 years
Work experience prior to current position: “I started working in hotels right out of college. I worked at a Hilton in Washington, D.C. first and since have worked at seven other Hilton properties around the country.”
Primary responsibilities: “To manage the hotel while meeting all of Hilton’s service standards, and meeting our owner’s financial expectations.”
What he likes most about his work: “The interaction with all of our guests and our team members. I also enjoy being able to contribute here in the community. Last year we gave $100,000 in cash and in-kind donations to the local community.”
PORTLAND, ORE.—You won’t find a Golden Dumpster Award on too many hotel executive resumes, but that is one honor that Tracy Marks gets excited about. The Building Owners Management Assn. presented that award to Marks and his team when he worked as food and beverage director at the Hilton San Francisco in 2002. Marks led the effort to reduce food waste. Thanks to a composting program, the number of dumpsters needing to be emptied dropped from seven a week to just two.
“The composting program there had a huge impact on trash hauling expenses,” Marks says.
Five years after helping to win the waste reduction award in San Francisco, Marks is still in the composting business, this time as general manager at the Hilton Portland & Executive Tower. Over the past 10 months, 72 tons of material that would have journeyed to a landfill has been composted. The hotel’s goal is to double that figure over the next six months.
Green Seal Process Spurs Changes
Composting is just one of many programs that have been launched at the Portland property that recently obtained Green Seal Lodging Properties certification. It was preparation for Green Seal, which requires not only immediate changes but also ongoing ones, which prompted many of the hotel’s initiatives. Even before Green Seal, the property had planned to add water-efficient fixtures in its bathrooms as part of a renovation.
“We had so many Green Seal components already that we decided to take the next step,” Marks says. “We worked with Green Seal for a year prior to certification.”
As part of the Green Seal process, Marks and his staff had to work their way through a 22-page list of requirements. About 75 percent of the steps were new initiatives for the hotel—replacing cleaning chemicals with non-toxic alternatives, for example. A few of the other hotel initiatives include:
• Guestroom light bulbs were replaced with compact fluorescents, saving $1,600 per month.
• Eighty percent of guestrooms received electronic “smart” thermostats that operate by motion sensor, turning the heat or air-conditioning to a predetermined conservation setting when guests exit the room.
• Partially used shampoo and conditioner bottles are donated to a local homeless shelter, along with older furnishings, linens, curtains, dishware and bedding.
• The hotel increased recycling capabilities throughout the facility with receptacles present in guestrooms and the hotel lobby.
• The internal escalator is turned off between the late hours of 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
• The hotel is working to achieve superior energy management with the replacement of mechanical equipment and energy retrofits. This includes replacing the current HVAC cooling tower with a state-of-the-art, highly efficient cooling tower, replacing all steam-to-hot-water converters with high-efficiency heat exchangers and switching to 85 percent high-efficiency natural gas boilers.
• The hotel’s Green Team, comprised of hotel executives, managers and staff, meets regularly to continue the development of eco-friendly operations. This internal network infiltrates Green Seal standards into all aspects of hotel operations and is now a component of new employee orientation.
Portland, certainly one of the hottest spots for green building and responsible hotel operations, is marketing itself as a green meetings destination. The Hilton Portland & Executive Tower and Doubletree Hotel & Executive Meeting Center Portland-Lloyd Center are both Green Seal certified and one other area hotel is pursuing Green Seal certification.
Marks says he has always been interested in environmental issues and tries hard in his personal life to have as little impact on the environment as possible. He is a runner and cyclist and also serves on the Portland Utility Review Board.
Go to the Hilton Portland & Executive Tower.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.