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BERLIN—More than 500 hotels and B&Bs that serve exclusively vegetarian or vegan food are now listed on the VeggieHotels web portal. VeggieHotels makes it easy to find purely vegetarian hotels, guest houses and conference centers. Over 500 accommodations in 60 countries with purely vegetarian kitchens are already listed. From the simple guest house to the five star hotel, the whole range of the hotel business is represented. More and more people are choosing the health related, ecological and ethical advantages of a vegetarian or vegan life style. Millions of vegetarian and vegan tourists constitute a significant target group and VeggieHotels offers them an easy way to find their ideal holiday destination. The criteria for a VeggieHotel are clear and simple. Neither fish nor meat is served. Many of the purely vegetarian hotels and guest houses also offer organic food and accommodate specific diets, such as vegan and raw food diets. More than 60 accommodations are purely vegan. For the first time a hotel corporation has chosen the topic “a climate-friendly, ethical and ecological diet” as the focus of their brand.
PARSIPPANY, N.J.—Wyndham Worldwide announced that RobecoSAM, an investment asset management firm, has recognized the company as a 2015 Gold Class Sustainability Leader in its annual Sustainability Yearbook. This is the second consecutive year the company has been included in the Sustainability Yearbook, receiving the Silver Class rating last year.
CHICAGO—When Virgin Group opened its first hotel last month—the 250-room Virgin Hotels Chicago—what was not talked about much in the media was the green story behind the renovated historic Old Dearborn Bank Building at 203 N. Wabash Ave. Richard Branson, Virgin Group founder, and member of the B Team leaders who recently called for a global commitment to net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050, established a hotel brand with the goal of LEED Silver for each hotel. Virgin Hotels Chicago’s green story begins with its site selection. Rather than building new, Virgin Hotels chose a historic bank building and kept many of its features. The facade features rich, ornate designs including medieval characters, dragons, griffins, ducks, squirrels and more. About 80 percent of the building’s original lobby remains. The Oak Cigar Bar in the lobby is now used as the check-in desk where DIY kiosks are placed.
SAN FRANCISCO—In a landmark decision, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has approved the “Green Tariff Shared Renewables Program,” a measure that will give millions of California residents and businesses the chance to participate in a utility clean energy program for the first time. The decision, which benefits the majority of the state’s businesses and over 38 million residents, directs the three largest investor-owned utilities—Pacific Gas and Electric Co., Southern California Edison Co., and San Diego Gas and Electric Co., which together cover nearly 80 percent of the state—to offer a Green-e Energy certified 100 percent renewable energy option to their customers. The measure also encourages the three utilities to develop a range of green power options that will allow ratepayers at all income levels to use more renewable energy than the state’'s current requirement of 33 percent by 2020. The measure, which passed the Commission in a 5-0 vote on January 29, directs utilities to seek Green-e Energy certification for their programs.
OAKLAND, CALIF.—The world’s biggest companies are addressing their environmental impacts, but it isn’t making much of a difference, according to State of Green Business 2015, a report from GreenBiz Group and Trucost. The eighth annual edition of the report, which measures the global progress of large, publicly traded companies around the world in addressing a myriad of environmental challenges, echoes the previous year’s report, which showed corporate progress leveling off or declining.
NATIONAL REPORT—Green walls, also known as vertical gardens or living walls, increasingly are being used in interior and exterior areas of hotels to make a green design statement. Aside from being aesthetic symbols of a property’s commitment to sustainability—perhaps even a means to earn LEED credits—green walls offer many other benefits. They can help deaden sound in large spaces, absorb and clean toxins from the air, reduce carbon dioxide levels, keep air temperatures down, improve employee alertness and energy levels, increase humidity, reduce airborne dust levels, and even help increase the property values of commercial buildings. According to Ambius, a green walls design expert, exterior green walls can reduce wall surface temperatures by as much as 50 degrees F, resulting in significant energy savings and air-conditioning costs. Green walls can be massive in size and expand over multiple floors, or as small as a framed piece of art—what Ambius calls its LivePicture.
ATLANTA—The Green Meeting Industry Council has announced the dates for its annual Sustainable Meetings Conference. This year’s event, with the theme, “Power to Change,” will be held June 17 to 19 in Atlanta at The Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel. Registration is currently open, with special early-bird registration pricing until March 23.
STAMFORD, CONN.—Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.’s aggressive environmental goals and design-led approach earned the company’s global headquarters the highest LEED accolades available. Home to approximately 1,200 Starwood associates representing nearly every global function, One StarPoint is the only building in Stamford to achieve the highest level of LEED certification. “We made a long-term investment in Stamford when we moved our global headquarters here and our extensive work for LEED certification is one way we continue to create a healthy and environmentally conscious work environment, which helps with retention, reduces energy consumption, and creates a more pleasant working experience,” said Ken Siegel, Chief Administrative Officer, General Counsel and head of Global Citizenship. “We’re proud of the dedication it took to achieve this certification—more than five years—and proud of our associates’ commitment to the Harbor Point community.” Kicked off in 2009, architects, designers, and the Global Citizenship team invested tens of thousands of hours to earn LEED Platinum from the U.S. Green Building Council for an existing building.
ATLANTA—InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) announced its 600th IHG Academy program, having doubled the number operating globally in the past year. IHG opened more than 300 programs during 2014 alone, giving almost 6,700 new IHG Academy participants the opportunity to develop the skills needed to work in the hospitality industry.
CONCORD, CALIF.—Hilton Concord has been honored with two prestigious and coveted designations for its ongoing dedication and commitment to sustainability. Contra Costa County awarded the Hilton Concord hotel with a Certified Green Business designation, the first hotel to receive this honor. In addition, the hotel received the 2014 Contra Costa Green Building Award by Sustainable Contra Costa. The Hilton Concord hotel is owned by VWI Concord LLC and operated by Interstate Hotels & Resorts. “We are proud to have achieved and exceeded the benchmarks in sustainability required for Green Business Certification and thrilled to be the recipient of the 2014 Contra Costa Green Building Award,” said Jack Hlavac, General Manager of the Hilton Concord. “It’s extremely rewarding to earn the recognition.”
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