Green Fall Conference Season Approaching

by Glenn Hasek August 24, 2016 05:55

With summer winding down it is a good time to take a look at the fall conference season. There will be many events at which sustainability will be a focus. The most significant green-focused event will be the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo. This year’s event will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center from October 5 to 7. Greenbuild will include a trade show, many educational sessions, building tours and even a Water Summit. Author Sebastian Junger will be the plenary speaker. His recent book is entitled “Tribe.” According to Junger’s website, the book is about why tribal sentiment is such a rare and precious thing in modern society, and how the lack of it has affected us all. One month prior is the Sustainable Meetings Conference. It will be held September 15 to 16 at the Hilton Baltimore. It will be the first opportunity to experience the revamped Green Meeting Industry Council—now a part of the Convention Industry Council.

The Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum, held September 30 to October 2 at El Conquistador in Puerto Rico, will include a track of sessions dedicated to Environment Sustainability.

The Global Wellness Summit will take place October 17 to 19 at KitzKongress, Kitzbühel in Tyrol, Austria. The event will include an Austrian-style Wellness Hotel Sampler following the summit.

A Sustainability Conference will be held November 10 at The Orleans Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The event, which will run from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., will feature guest presenters from the EPA, Southern Nevada Authority, Republic Services, and other organizations.

For the second year running, HX: The Hotel Experience will be held in November (13 to 15 this year) at the Javits Center in New York City. Also for the second year running, I will be moderating sessions on the show floor. Be sure to make your plans now so that you can attend my two green sessions as well as the many other educational sessions. The first topic I chose for this year’s HX: “Greenwashing or Nothing But the Truth—The Untold Story of the Greening of Amenities.” I have followed the greening of amenities for many years now and have found the topic to be intriguing and more complex than you can imagine. I have put together a panel of experts who will be on hand to answer my questions and those from the audience. The second topic I chose for this year’s HX: “Behind the Numbers—What Two Leading 2016 Surveys Say About Sustainability Trends.” In this session the highlights of two leading industry surveys will be revealed. First, results of the 2016 Lodging Survey will be shared by Lindsay Culbreath, Senior Director, Business Development & Marketing for STR. Conducted every two years, the 2016 Lodging Survey is a production of STR, the American Hotel & Lodging Assn. and the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation. The 2016 Lodging Survey touches on topics ranging from energy management sensors to recycling programs to electric vehicle charging stations. Second, Eric Ricaurte, Founder & CEO, Greenview, will share highlights of the first annual Green Lodging Survey, a production of Greenview and Green Lodging News. Also on the panel: Rick Werber, Senior Vice President, Engineering and Sustainability, Design and Construction Department, Host Hotels & Resorts.”

I will look forward to seeing you “on the road” this fall.

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Food Drive Just One of Many Green Efforts at New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center

by Glenn Hasek August 17, 2016 04:55

News from the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center often crosses my desk. It usually has to do with good things the Center is doing in the community or in other areas of sustainability. One recent example was a canned food drive. Each Center department recently was challenged to come up with the most creative representation of a Louisiana icon or landmark, using only non-perishable food cans. Employees donated from their personal pantries and pooled their own money and resources together in order to build their canned goods masterpieces. Some of the creative ideas included a replica of the Louisiana State Capitol made out of canned goods and boxed spaghetti; and several canned pineapple “suns” to represent the official state song of Louisiana, “You are my Sunshine.” The entries were judged by the contest’s beneficiary, Giving HOPE, a nonprofit dedicated to “changing lives through love.”

The judges then awarded the grand prize trophy to the Facility and Environmental departments, for their elaborate, three-dimensional alligator constructed from cans of green beans and tomatoes. After the winning design was announced, employees boxed up the items and loaded the truck bound for Giving HOPE’s warehouse. The organization estimated that the employee’s donation was valued at $7,361.

The Center, a participant in the 2016 Green Venue Report, has an extensive green program in partnership with Centerplate that focuses on waste reduction, energy conservation, water conservation, and clean air practices. A few examples of initiatives: china an option for catered events, daylight sensors for exterior lighting, variable volume HVAC and pumping systems, irrigation systems with rain sensors, and environmentally preferable cleaners when possible.

This week the Center will host the Farm to Table Experience, an event where the food and beverages of New Orleans will be celebrated through tastings, interactive gardening and cooking demonstrations, hands-on workshops, educational sessions, social events, and more.

To learn more about the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and its green efforts, click here.

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Six New York Hotels Participate in City's Zero Waste Challenge

by Glenn Hasek August 10, 2016 06:11

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Zero Waste Challenge recently wrapped up with six hotels participating. The Zero Waste Challenge is part of the administration’s comprehensive OneNYC plan to send Zero Waste to landfill by 2030. Collectively, 31 businesses diverted 36,910 tons of waste that would have otherwise been sent to landfill or incineration. This was done by composting over 24,500 tons of organic material and donating 322 tons of food to New Yorkers in need. “With the Mayor’s Zero Waste Challenge, the new commercial recycling rules and commercial organics law, we aim to help businesses make choices that will cut down on our overall waste as a City,” said Nilda Mesa, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “Participants were very creative in coming up with ways to reduce waste and recycle more; staff training and getting upper management buy-in are also essential.”

New regulations that require New York City stadiums and hotels to foot the bill for disposing of the excessive food waste left behind by patrons went into effect last month. Collectively, all participants reached an average diversion rate of 56.5 percent—exceeding the Challenge’s goal of a 50 percent diversion. Three quarters of participants diverted 50 percent or more of their total waste from landfill and incineration through tactics such as making smarter, less wasteful purchases; reducing packaging; and switching to reusable goods and digital storage. For example, some participants are stocking their offices with reusable coffee mugs and glasses and have done away with disposable cups and bottled water; another replaced all trash bins with tiny countertop landfill bins encouraging employees to only place materials there that must go to landfill.

The Challenge also required participants that regularly had leftover, edible food to donate it to a food collection organization to then be sent to shelters or food pantries. A total of 322 tons of food was donated by participants to feed hungry New Yorkers. Organizations such as City Harvest; Rock and Wrap it Up!; and Rescuing Leftover Cuisine assisted the City in tracking donations.

Hotel participants in the Zero Waste Challenge included Hilton Garden Inn New York/Staten Island, Hyatt Place Flushing, Martha Washington Hotel, The Peninsula New York, The Pierre New York, and The Waldorf Astoria. The Hilton Garden Inn New York/Staten Island, The Peninsula New York and The Pierre New York all reached 50 percent of waste diverted from landfill and incineration.

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Two 'Green' Sessions Among the Many at This Fall's HX: The Hotel Experience

by Glenn Hasek August 03, 2016 04:56

For the second year running, HX: The Hotel Experience will be held in November (13 to 15 this year) at the Javits Center in New York City. Also for the second year running, I will be moderating sessions on the show floor. Be sure to make your plans now so that you can attend my two green sessions as well as the many other educational sessions. The first topic I chose for this year’s HX: “Greenwashing or Nothing But the Truth—The Untold Story of the Greening of Amenities.” I have followed the greening of amenities for many years now and have found the topic to be intriguing and more complex than you can imagine. I have put together a panel of experts who will be on hand to answer my questions and those from the audience. My panel this year: Ian Wallace, President of Dispenser Amenities; Guido Bonadonna, CEO, GFL SA; and Ray Burger, President, Pineapple Hospitality.

Here is the description of the session I am putting together: “In the highly competitive race to win the green hearts of hoteliers and guests alike, amenities companies have removed harmful chemicals, introduced natural ingredients, inserted additives into plastic, and adjusted other packaging content. Some companies now offer “zero waste” or “carbon neutral” options. How do vendors define “zero waste” or “carbon neutral”? What does it mean that a product is paraben free or phthalate free? Why is that important? Does a plastic bottle with an additive really biodegrade faster? What about dispensers? Should you “ditch” amenity bottles altogether? What is their environmental/operational upside? Is it all just greenwashing? Suppliers will join in what is guaranteed to be a revealing discussion about the current state of “sustainable” amenities and dispensers.”

It was not easy putting together my panel. I had several amenity companies turn down the opportunity and a number of others who chose not to return my phone calls.

The second topic I chose for this year’s HX: “Behind the Numbers—What Two Leading 2016 Surveys Say About Sustainability Trends.” Here is the description of the session: “Call 2016 the year of the surveys. In this session the highlights of two leading industry surveys will be revealed. First, results of the 2016 Lodging Survey will be shared by Lindsay Culbreath, Senior Director, Business Development & Marketing for STR. Conducted every two years, the 2016 Lodging Survey is a production of STR, the American Hotel & Lodging Assn. and the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation. The 2016 Lodging Survey touches on topics ranging from energy management sensors to recycling programs to electric vehicle charging stations. Second, Eric Ricaurte, Founder & CEO, Greenview, will share highlights of the first annual Green Lodging Survey, a production of Greenview and Green Lodging News. Learn the results of “green” questions never before posed to hoteliers. Both surveys were built to not only identify trends but also innovative best practices. Also on the panel: Rick Werber, Senior Vice President, Engineering and Sustainability, Design and Construction Department, Host Hotels & Resorts.”

At no other time in the history of our industry will so much data be available on sustainability trends and practices. Be sure to attend this second session.

To access a schedule of all HX educational opportunities, click here.

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Hotel Sustainability Benchmarking Index Continues Growth

by Glenn Hasek July 27, 2016 05:11

It is an old management adage still true today: “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Fortunately, the lodging industry is getting better all of the time at managing its environmental impact. One sure proof of this is the just-released “Hotel Sustainability Benchmarking Index 2016: Energy, Water, and Carbon.” The report was produced by Cornell’s Center for Hospitality Research. Eric Ricaurte, Founder & CEO of Greenview, was the lead researcher and compiled 2014 data from 11 global hotel firms. I spoke with Ricaurte and he told me the data set grew by 40 percent—from 3,250 properties to 4,457 properties since last year’s report. “We are showing more granularity and improvement every year,” Ricaurte said. This is the third year for the study. In the first year the database included utility information from about 2,000 hotels.

Unique to this year’s Index is the ability to sort by climate zones (Tropical, Tropical Monsoon, etc.) and hotel type (Luxury, Urban, etc).

The improvement in data collection from year to year is a boon for the Hotel Footprinting Tool, a tool that relies on Index data. The Hotel Footprinting Tool was launched last October by the International Tourism Partnership and Greenview. The Index is perfect for anyone interested in benchmarking their own property against other properties in a market segment. Destinations or even countries can also compare their performance against others.

Interestingly, Ricaurte told me data in the Index show hotels across the board in Asia to be less efficient than those in other parts of the world. “The general usage of water and energy is higher,” Ricaurte said.

Ricaurte invites hotel companies to participate in the 2017 edition of the Cornell Hotel Sustainability Benchmarking Index, which has now begun collecting 2015 data sets for carbon emissions, energy use, and water use.

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NSF 444 Standard Will Help Prevent Legionella Outbreaks

by Glenn Hasek July 20, 2016 04:50

Legionellosis is a respiratory disease caused by Legionella bacteria. Sometimes the bacteria cause a serious type of pneumonia (lung infection) called Legionnaires’ disease. The bacteria can also cause a less serious infection called Pontiac fever that has symptoms similar to a mild case of the flu. Unfortunately, Legionella bacteria make frequent appearances in hotels. Legionella was discovered after an outbreak in 1976 among people who went to a Philadelphia convention of the American Legion. The convention took place at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel and 34 people died. Last year there was an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease in New York City that left 12 dead and more than 100 infected. Part of the outbreak traced back to a hotel and there was a cooling tower connection. The CDC estimates that between 8,000 and 18,000 people are hospitalized with Legionnaires’ disease in the United States each year, with more than 4,500 cases reported in 2014.

To address concerns about legionellosis, global public health organization NSF International and ASHRAE have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to jointly develop NSF 444: Prevention of Injury and Disease Associated with Building Water Systems. Water quality often degrades once water enters buildings, and it could expose occupants to hazards such as microbial pathogens, toxic chemicals and physical hazards. NSF 444 seeks to provide a methodology for the systematic analysis of building water systems and the application of control measures necessary to prevent harm and to maintain public health.

“The development of NSF 444 and this MOU with ASHRAE represent NSF International’s commitment to helping assure water quality in areas that impact human health,” said Jessica Evans, Director of Standards at NSF International. “NSF 444 is the first NSF standard to address building water quality and our working relationship with ASHRAE will help us contribute expertise to this important area of the water quality industry.”

U.S. public health and environmental organizations at the state and federal levels, members of ASHRAE, private healthcare systems, academia and those in the water industry are participating on the joint committee to develop the standard. The standard is expected to be released in 2017.

Continue to watch Green Lodging News for updates on NSF 444.

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National Park Service About to Turn 100 Years Old

by Glenn Hasek July 13, 2016 05:21

The 100th birthday of the National Park Service is just a little more than one month away—August 25. The anniversary will be marked in many ways this year at the parks and by businesses that support and benefit from the parks. Our industry benefits greatly from these parks. It is difficult to even imagine how many room nights each year are attributable to the parks. The National Park Service was created by an act signed by President Woodrow Wilson on August 25, 1916. The system includes 412 areas covering more than 84 million acres in every state, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. These areas include national parks, monuments, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, historic sites, lakeshores, seashores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails, and the White House. The total recreation visitors to the national parks in 2015: an impressive 307,247,252.

The most visited place in the National Park System in 2015 was the Blue Ridge Parkway with more than 15 million visitors. The second most visited: the Golden Gate National Recreation Area with almost 15 million visitors.

If your property benefits in any way from visitors to the parks, or even if it does not, find a way to support the National Park Service in 2016 and beyond. One example of a group of hotels doing its part is the 14 Hilton Worldwide hotels in and around Washington, D.C. They are offering a “Find Your Park DC Package and inviting guests to explore the National Mall and Memorial Parks. The package includes a house-made granola snack pack, two bottles of water, two pairs of gardening gloves, tote bag, Junior Ranger activity guide and opportunity to earn a Junior Ranger Badge. From now through September 6, 2016, for every Find Your Park Package room night booked and stayed, participating Hilton Worldwide hotels in the Washington, D.C. area will make a donation of $5 to the National Mall & Memorial Parks, up to $20,000. On August 25, hotel guests are being invited to join hotel team members at National Mall and Memorial Parks from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for a community service and beautification project. Guests are encouraged to find inspiration and share their memories on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with #FindYourPark and #FindYourParkDC.

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MGM Resorts, Caesars Represent Hospitality on Civic 50 List

by Glenn Hasek June 29, 2016 05:18

On Tuesday of this week, Points of Light, the largest organization in the world dedicated to volunteer service, recognized its 2016 Civic 50 winners at the Conference on Volunteering and Service in Detroit. Only two hospitality companies made the 2016 Civic 50 list: MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corp. MGM and Caesars joined companies such as the Ford Motor Co. and General Mills. Not every company is eligible for the Civic 50. A company must have $1 billion or above in annual revenue. The Civic 50 is based on the results of a survey that focuses on four dimensions of a company’s U.S. community engagement program: investment (time, money, etc.), integration (how a company “does well by doing good”), institutionalization (institutional policies, systems, and incentives), and impact (how company measures its impact). Survey submissions were judged by a panel of nine. Both MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment issued press releases to highlight their inclusion on the Civic 50.

“We are extremely honored to be recognized among the Civic 50,” said Phyllis A. James, Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity and Corporate Responsibility Officer for MGM Resorts. “Our communities provide the critical framework for our business operations and the social infrastructure for our employees. For us, financial donations and volunteer service to our communities are not only a moral obligation that our company and our employees share, but also a vital part of our business imperatives.” MGM Resorts has a long history of supporting the communities in which it operates. Since 2002, MGM Resorts employees have raised more than $65 million and supported thousands of charitable organizations through the MGM Resorts Foundation. In 2015, MGM Resorts’ employees volunteered over 157,851 hours with nonprofit organizations and agencies. Jan Jones Blackhurst, Executive Vice President of Government Relations and Corporate Responsibility for Caesars Entertainment said, “The Civic 50 recognizes Caesars Entertainment’s broad-based commitment to corporate responsibility, including our environmental concern, economic development and volunteerism, employee well-being, and ethical business conduct. We are humbled to be in such remarkable company, and grateful for the recognition of our positive business and societal impact.” The Caesars Foundation has donated more than $70 million to local nonprofits and through the company’s HERO employee engagement initiative employees volunteer more than 200,000 hours each year.

For more information on the Civic 50, click here.

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Results from Role of Sustainability in Travel & Tourism Report

by Glenn Hasek June 23, 2016 04:37

Mandala Research and Sustainable Travel International recently released the results of their 2016 Role of Sustainability in Travel & Tourism report. The findings are based on a survey of 2,292 leisure travelers. A lead sponsor of the study was Visit California. Additional sponsors included Travel Oregon, G Adventures, Destination Better, Shop America Alliance, Louisiana Tax Free Shopping, and Wild Rivers Coast Alliance. According to the report, 60 percent of U.S. travelers (105.3 million) have taken a sustainable trip in the last three years. They spend more (on average $600 per trip), stay longer (seven days compared to four days) and bring higher benefits to local communities including job creation, giving-back and volunteering. More than half (53 percent) of sustainable travelers report that sustainable practices at the destination were a driver of destination choice, either being the “key factor in their decision” to visit the destination (28 percent) or helping them choose between destinations (25 percent), (compared to only eight percent of all other travelers.)

Sixty-three percent of all travelers say they are much more likely to consider destinations where there is a strong effort to conserve and protect natural resources. The number jumps to 75 percent among sustainable travelers. Travelers feel a great deal of responsibility for ensuring their trip has a positive impact on the place they visit, 63 percent; 64 percent believe that responsibility also rests with local government. More than 60 percent of all travelers feel strongly about their obligation to leave an area the same or better than they found it. More than two-fifths of sustainable travelers say they have purchased from travel companies because they believe they offer fair wages to their employees and invest in employees. Thirty-eight percent say they have done business with travel companies who have helped to reduce human trafficking. The 2016 Role of Sustainability in Travel & Tourism report included 40 questions. To access the entire report, click here.

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New Jersey Winding Down Garden State Green Hotels Project

by Glenn Hasek June 15, 2016 05:56

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is winding down its Garden State Green Hotels Project. At the same time, the Travel Green New Jersey website is on schedule for updating with green lodging establishments that are located in New Jersey. So says Ky Asral, Manager, Small Business Environmental Assistance Program at New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection. Asral has been managing the Garden State Green Hotels Project that has provided 120 hotels in New Jersey with on-site assistance in four areas: the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, reduction of use of hazardous material, reduction of use of water and other natural resources, and the reduction of solid waste. Asral told me that 120 hotels have been visited and now are being evaluated to see what progress they have made. Even when the Garden State Green Hotels Project closes, Asral says the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection will continue to provide assistance to hotels interested in reducing their environmental impact. So far, the Travel Green New Jersey website has not included a list of green lodging establishments in the Garden State.

Asral says that should change by the end of the summer. Properties with green certifications will be listed along with the certifications they have. “Somebody looking at staying at a green hotel could look at a map on the site,” Asral says. “We want the information at somebody’s fingertips.” New Jersey is one of many states that have some type of state level green lodging recognition program.

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About Me

Glenn Hasek is the publisher and editor of Green Lodging News. He has more than 20 years of experience writing about the lodging industry. He can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com or by phone at (813) 510-3868.