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WASHINGTON, D.C.—A webinar on carbon monoxide safety will be held for AH&LA members on Thursday, August 21, 2014, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. (EST). The moderator will be Tony Mendez, corporate safety/security services, resort management, Bluegreen Corp. Speakers will include: Byron Briese, Rolf Jenson Associates; Tom Daly, The Hospitality Security Consulting Group; and Stacy Welch, PE, Senior Director, Fire Protection and Life Safety, Marriott International, Inc.
LAS VEGAS—MGM Resorts International has released its 2013 Corporate Social Responsibility Executive Summary, highlighting the company’s continued commitment to diversity, engagement with its communities, and stewardship of environmental resources. Themed “Inspiring Our World,” the summary is available for download on the company's CSR website. “We are proud of the strides we have made over the last year in our continued efforts to fully integrate social responsibility throughout all levels of our company’s operations,” said Jim Murren, Chairman & CEO of MGM Resorts International. “We strongly believe our CSR efforts make us not only a better company; they also make us a better citizen. We are committed to enhancing and expanding our philanthropy, diversity and sustainability initiatives in ways that help improve our community.” From introducing the gaming industry’s first formal diversity and inclusion initiative in 2000 to building the world’s largest LEED Gold certified complex at CityCenter, or motivating its employees to donate more than 109,000 volunteer hours last year, CSR is foundational to the company’s culture.
NEW YORK—The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has announced a new partnership that will expand innovative clean-energy project financing to all of New York State for commercial, industrial and multifamily buildings to help them become more competitive and cost-effective by decreasing their energy costs. Through the partnership, NYSERDA is providing approximately $1 million to the Energy Improvement Corporation (EIC) to jumpstart its Energize NY Finance program in the State over the next two years. The Energize NY Finance program uses Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Finance (PACE) and property tax laws to provide long-term, market-rate financing for clean energy commercial and multifamily building improvements. Combining this innovative financing mechanism with community outreach helps to overcome the two most significant barriers to expansion of clean energy projects—lack of market knowledge and lack of financing capital. “New York State businesses now have access to another innovative financing option, as the State transforms markets and removes barriers to clean-energy project development,” said John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA.
LONDON—TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel website, announced the launch of the TripAdvisor GreenLeaders program in Europe to help travelers around the world plan greener trips by highlighting hotels and B&Bs engaging in environmentally-friendly practices. More than 6,000 properties around the world have so far been awarded TripAdvisor GreenLeader status. Developed in consultation with the Carbon Trust, the UK Green Building Council, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the International Tourism Partnership, qualifying hotels and B&Bs are awarded TripAdvisor GreenLeaders status based on the green practices the property has in place. A TripAdvisor survey has revealed that there is a demand for more green choices with more than a quarter (26 percent) of European travelers* actively making eco-friendly travel choices in the last 12 months, and a third (33 percent) planning to do so in the next 12 months. The surveyed also revealed that nearly one in ten European travelers (9 percent) say they have chosen to stay at a particular hotel because of their green policies.
LAKE PLACID, N.Y.—Guests at the new Lake House at High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid can opt out of daily housekeeping services. In addition to significant reduction in the use of chemicals and their disposal, guests will earn a $5 daily credit which can be applied at the Bar at Lake House, or in Dancing Bears Restaurant at High Peaks Resort. Alternatively, the guest credit may be donated to the Mirror Lake Watershed Assn., which works to preserve the pristine beauty of Mirror Lake. “It is important for all of us who live and work in Lake Placid to help protect and preserve our natural resources,” said Matthew Wheeler, General Manager of Lake House. “So we have found a way for our guests to conserve too, and perhaps even contribute to the preservation of our local surroundings. All you need to do is dial the ‘service at its peak button’ from your in-room telephone, and you can request participation in our easy yet vitally important program.”
SAN FRANCISCO—Airbnb, a leading community-driven hospitality company, released a new study quantifying the environmental benefits of home sharing for travelers. Conducted by Cleantech Group (CTG), this study finds that Airbnb promotes a more efficient use of existing resources and is an environmentally sustainable way to travel. Traveling on Airbnb results in significant reduction in energy and water use, greenhouse gas emissions, and waste, and encourages more sustainable practices among both hosts and guests. “Resource sharing is rapidly growing across a number of sectors including hospitality, consumer goods, and transportation,” said Michael Ellis, EVP Advisory for CTG. “Cleantech Group’s initial analysis demonstrates some of the improvements in environmental resource efficiency that Airbnb’s platform delivers.” “We have always believed that the Airbnb community supports environmental sustainability around the world, and it’s truly amazing to see that the impact is even bigger than we could have imagined,” said Joe Gebbia, Chief Product Officer and co-founder of Airbnb.
HARTFORD, CONN.—The Connecticut Convention Center has recently taken steps in the green direction with the completion of two major projects that will improve the facility’s energy efficiency. Beginning last summer, the Center entrusted the help of Strategic Building Solutions (SBS) to review the energy usage for chilled water, hot water, and steam throughout the facility. For four months, SBS made adjustments to the Center’s computers, pump controls, motor controls, and Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs).
ITHACA, N.Y.—A new study from Cornell University has found that hotels gain a revenue benefit when they are certified under the LEED sustainable building program. By comparing LEED certified hotels with a competitive set of non-certified hotels, the study found substantial increases in average daily rates and revenue per available room for the LEED hotels. The study, “The Impact of LEED Certification on Hotel Performance,” by Matthew Walsman, Rohit Verma, and Suresh Muthulingam, is available at no charge from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) at the School of Hotel Administration. “The hotel industry has embraced environmental sustainability and several hotels have registered for or earned ‘green’ certification under the LEED program,” said Verma, who is the Singapore Tourism Board Distinguished Professor at the School of Hotel Administration. “But LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is really aimed at controlling costs by limiting resource use. So, the question was whether there also is a revenue benefit from LEED. We found that the answer is, absolutely yes.”
NATIONAL REPORT—It is no secret that energy management can be a major challenge for hotels. In an industry focused on providing superior customer experiences and maintaining immaculate facilities, high electricity bills can feel uncontrollable—just another cost of doing business. Hotel facility managers are trained to think about electricity bills in terms of kilowatt-hours (kWh), which equates to how much energy the building consumes each month.
PORTLAND, ORE.—The Oregon Convention Center (OCC) has been certified to the highest level of a new international sustainability standard. OCC achieved Level Four certification for the ASTM Standard pertaining to the evaluation and selection of venues for environmentally sustainable meetings, events, trade shows and conferences. The venue standard is one of nine standards introduced by the meetings, conventions, exhibitions and events industry in 2012 to provide event planners and suppliers with specifications for producing events in a more sustainable manner. Scott Cruickshank, Executive Director of the OCC, commented, “We are proud and excited to be the first convention center to attain Level Four of the ASTM Venue certification. Certification to the industry’s global standard at its highest level is further evidence of OCC’s ongoing commitment to sustainability.” Earlier this year, the Convention Center earned LEED Platinum re-certification as an existing building and, in 2013, it was re-designated a Salmon Safe facility based upon its design and use of storm water runoff.
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