Minnesota has not been recognized as a green hotel hot spot in the United States over the past few years but that is beginning to change. One of the latest hotel projects of note is the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis. Architecture and interior design firm Stonehill & Taylor led the $25 million dollar renovation of the hotel that wrapped up this summer. The scope of work included the complete hotel: 532 guestrooms and suites, the public spaces, meeting areas, and restaurants. The design references the historic industries of the area, including lumber, flour, and wool milling. The project was committed to sustainability, and materials and FF&E were sourced locally, with an emphasis on American manufacturing. I spoke with Michael Suomi recently about the project. He is Principal, V.P. of Interior Design for Stonehill & Taylor.
Michael told me the owners of the hotel wanted to spend as much of the renovation dollars with suppliers based in North America. Also driving the local purchasing: a desire by owners to complete 17 months of work in just 12 to 13 months. Suppliers outside of the North America were considered as well but if, after all cost factors were considered, it was more cost-effective to work with North America-based vendors, that was what was done. “In many categories North American companies were competitive to Asia,” Michael told me.
Energy-saving initiatives from the renovation include converting all of the back of house lighting to LED, adding low flow plumbing fixtures for enhanced water savings (1.6 gal/flush), insulated drapery, closet light sensors, vending misers in all vending machines, new fan coil units with programmable thermostats, and occupancy sensors that will set rooms back to an energy saving temperature when rooms are vacant. Additionally, many materials from the renovation were recycled, including metal, fixtures and shipping materials. The old furniture was liquidated and items that were not sold were donated to local charities.
Hyatt Regency Minneapolis is sourcing many ingredients for its new Prairie Kitchen & Bar restaurant and marketplace from local farmers and distributors, including cage free eggs, Ames Farm honey, Meyer All Natural Beef Burgers, and beer from Finnegans Brewery. The restaurant also features a new line of tableware, Dudson Evolution, which has the lowest carbon footprint of any ceramic hospitality tableware manufactured.
Another addition at Prairie is honey from three on-premise beehives, which house about 180,000 bees. The bees produce more than they need to sustain themselves, so the excess honey is used in several menu items and handcrafted cocktails, as well as chocolate for Mademoiselle Miel, a local chocolatier that sells its honey bon bons at the hotel’s market.
Hyatt Regency Minneapolis will also continue to donate to Second Harvest Farms and will recycle all deep-fry oil. Additionally, the hotel has expanded recycling efforts by donating housekeeping items, including soap, shampoo, towels, and linens, as well as lost-and-found clothing to local area shelters. The Shipping and Receiving Department has also set up a station to reuse packing materials.
The Hyatt Regency Minneapolis Green Team has also introduced numerous eco-friendly service projects including the H.E.A.T. Bowl, which is a competition between departments that involves achievements in recycling, reducing and reusing. The team also introduced recycling programs for computers, batteries, ink cartridges, cell phones, and other small electronics, in addition to an office supply swap where employees can shop for their office needs, a storage space garage sale, and a coffee mug punch card. Unused items from the garage sale and office supply swap will be donated to local shelters and schools. The Green Team has also organized seasonal education presentations for employees regarding energy conservation and growing local gardens.
All totaled, during the renovation three-quarters of the items purchased came from the United States. The lobby floor, check-in area, and bathrooms feature granite quarried locally from a century old Minnesota company less than 200 miles away. There is also locally crafted art work on display in the lobby and in each guestroom features images of the iconic Gold Medal Flour building along with aerial views of Minneapolis.