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This past week was a busy news week. First, Marriott International released its 2015 Sustainability Report. Found here, it includes 12 different sections ranging from Business Ethics and Human Rights to Environmental Performance. Of note, Marriott has reduced its energy intensity (kWh of per square meter of conditioned space) by 9.4 percent since 2007, its water intensity (cubic meter per occupied room) by 22.9 percent, and its greenhouse gas emissions intensity (kilograms per square meter) by 10 percent. If you would like to compare Marriott’s performance from year to year, the company now has six years of sustainability reports on its website. I will be chatting with Mari Snyder, V.P., Corporate Social Responsibility at Marriott this coming week to learn more about the company’s efforts.
I have written a number of times about shipping containers and how they have been used in our industry. Early this year I posted an article about the Days Inn-Sioux Lookout in Sioux Lookout, Ontario, a property made from 120 shipping containers. At least one hotel—the Ritz-Carlton, Naples (Fla.) is using a shipping container in a different way—to grow crops. I spoke briefly with Gabrielle O’Boyle, Communications Manager at the hotel, and she told me the container sits in a service drive area of the property. I plan to interview George Fistrovich, the Executive Chef at the hotel, to get more details. What I know at this point is that the on-site Grow House is the first of its kind in a resort setting.
Is it just me or do you also feel a bit guilty each time you use a paper towel to dry your hands in a public restroom? Given the advances that have been made with hand dryers (read my hand dryer article that I posted this week) I really don’t understand why commercial establishments and public facilities still offer paper towels. Am I missing something here? If you are still offering paper towels to your guests, perhaps even in combination with hand dryers, what is your rationale for doing so? I would love to know. I asked Robert Green, U.S. Head Engineer at Dyson, whether or not his company still comes across some customers that utilize both hand dryers and paper towels and he told me it depends on the customer.
The Spafinder Wellness 365 eighth annual 2015 State of Wellness Travel report offers a glimpse at the evolving travel habits of those travelers interested in “maintaining or enhancing one’s personal well-being.” This includes the pursuit of physical, mental, spiritual or environmental wellness while traveling for either leisure or business. The study was conducted in July and August. More than 200 travel agents in North America and Europe participated. I found the results quite interesting. Eighty-six percent of agents reported that they expect wellness travel to grow this year. Fourteen percent expected it to stay the same. The 86 percent is the highest percentage in the history of the survey.
Of the five educational sessions I moderated at last year’s International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show in New York City (event now called HX: The Hotel Experience), the session that drew the most participants was entitled, “Crafting a Career in Sustainability in Hospitality & Tourism—Sustainability Trends in Hospitality Education.” It was great to see young people so excited about sustainability. Whenever I see a young person trying to make a difference in our industry, I do my best to give that person a lot of exposure and encouragement. In 2013 I profiled the work of Milo Cress, an 11-year-old at the time whose goal was to get restaurants and bars to go straw free. He founded the Be Straw Free Campaign.
Smoking rooms were in the news again this past week—in several instances. First, state lawmaker Ken Zebrowski proposed a bill that would ban smoking rooms within lodging establishments in New York. Second, Choice Hotels International announced that Comfort Inn will join Comfort Suites in implementing a 100 percent smoke-free policy beginning July 1, 2016, making Comfort the largest hotel brand in the United States to do so with more than 1,700 properties across the country. Third, Caesars Entertainment announced that 11 of its casino-resort and entertainment properties achieved LEED Equivalency. The properties failed to achieve actual LEED certification because USGBC regulations prohibit properties that allow smoking from achieving LEED certification.
Let’s call him “John Smith.” This is a true story but I will protect the gentleman’s privacy. John drives an electric vehicle (EV) in Las Vegas and also lives in Las Vegas. One evening he decided he would go to a casino for dinner and gambling. He chose that casino because it has an EV charging station. He figured he could charge his vehicle while having a nice evening out. Upon arrival at the casino he was told by a resort associate that the charging station was for guests only. Let’s call this negative experience number one. Keep in mind that John intended to spend several hundred dollars at the property that night. A charging station was available so the resort associate did end up allowing John to use it.
I would not call it a flurry of announcements about LEED Platinum hotel developments but it is quite unusual to read about two in less than a month. The first one, in case you missed it, is the College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Hyattsville, Md. That property, originally named the Marriott Inn and Conference Center University of Maryland University College, was the first hotel in the United States to earn any type of LEED certification. The property, which has 237 guestrooms and suites, recently went through several years of renovation and emerged as one of just four LEED Platinum hotels in the United States. Just announced in the last two weeks is “Project Bella,” a yet to be officially named hotel project.
Those attending this November’s HX: The Hotel Experience and Boutique Design New York will be doing so in a building—the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center—that has undergone some dramatic changes in recent years. High above the trade show floors, up on the roof of the complex, there is a 6.75-acre green roof. “As the second largest of its kind in the country, the nearly seven-acre green roof is serving as a model for sustainability nationwide, reducing our energy consumption while becoming a living laboratory for various groups such as Drexel University, Cooper Union and the New York City Audubon,” says Rebecca Marshall, Energy and Sustainability Manager at the Javits Center.
It was on June 26, just two months ago, that ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 188-2015, Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems was released. Less than three weeks later, there was an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease in New York City that left 12 dead and more than 100 infected. Part of the outbreak did trace back to a hotel and there was a cooling tower connection and that quickly got the attention of government officials in New York. New York City Council adopted legislation that requires adherence to part of ASHRAE’s newly published standard and the state Health Department enacted emergency regulations to combat Legionnaires’ disease—requiring building owners to register and test their cooling towers.
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