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The next time you are in Fort Lauderdale, try looking up. You just might be within range of seeing the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort’s six 52-foot, 4 kilowatt wind turbines that rise above the hotel’s rooftop. The brand new turbines were officially unveiled on Wednesday, January 29 during a ceremony that included two mayors and the following: Jose Luis Zapata, representing Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach Residences; Diane Jaskulske, V.P. of Owner Relations for Hilton Worldwide; Randy Gaines, V.P. of Engineering for Hilton Worldwide; and Andreas Ioannou, General Manager for the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort. Congratulations go out to everyone involved in this historic project. I spoke with General Manager Andreas Ioannou this past week and he was very excited about the project.
What is tolerated in our oceans would not be tolerated on land. I am convinced of that. Can you imagine going deer hunting for a buck and then killing every doe, rabbit, squirrel, hawk, chipmunk and eagle in the area just to get that one deer? In our oceans, the equivalent of that happens every day in the hunt for fish that is most marketable. According to a recent report issued by the Natural Resources Defense Council, in order to put wild-caught seafood on dinner tables, more than 650,000 marine mammals are killed or seriously injured every year in foreign fisheries after being hooked, entangled or trapped in fishing gear. This marine mammal “bycatch” is just a very small part of the total bycatch that is wasted by fisheries each year. Why is it important to know this? If you buy fish in the U.S., it most likely has been imported.
Every now and then, since launching Green Lodging News in the summer of 2006, I would hear from the PGA National Resort & Spa’s Kathy McGuire. She would write with a question or comment. I always appreciated her feedback. I knew she played a significant role in helping to green the resort that is well known for its five championship golf courses and for hosting the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic (February 27 to March 2 this year). I finally had an opportunity to interview Kathy this past week and was pleased to learn that she recently had been promoted to Manager, Sustainable Development at the resort. It is still quite rare in our industry to have someone at a property level with full-time sustainability responsibilities. Every property should have someone like Kathy. She is the type of person who is not afraid to initiate.
I had a conversation this past week with the CEO of a company that sells food waste decomposition machines. During our conversation he touted the reliability of his company’s machines from a maintenance perspective. It was a differentiator, he said, when compared to his competitors. I suspect every company in every product niche would tell you that but what stood out in our conversation was his emphasis on TCO—the notion of “total cost of ownership.” How often do you consider TCO when purchasing a green product or technology? What I mean is not only the actual upfront cost but also the utility costs involved over the life of the item, the maintenance-related costs, the disposal costs, the human costs (ergonomically, for example) and the overall environmental impact.
It was almost a year ago that I first learned about WHOLE WORLD Water, an effort to raise funds to support clean and safe water programs around the world. The campaign officially launched on World Water Day last year, March 22. For those of you not familiar with how the program works, spas, hotels, resorts and restaurants commit to filter, bottle and sell their own water, and contribute 10 percent of the proceeds to the WHOLE WORLD Water Fund. Royal Bank of Canada will manage the Fund. I spoke with Karena Albers, co-founder, WHOLE WORLD Water, this past week, to see how the program is faring. (Other co-founders: Jen Willig and Sonu Shivdasani.) “We have 49 hotels signed on and many more promised in the New Year,” she told me. “2014 will be our turnaround year.”
For my last column of 2013 I took a look back at the more than 400 feature articles posted on the Green Lodging News website in 2013 in order to determine what I consider to be the top 10 news stories or developments. Coming up with a top 10 was not easy. So much happened in 2013, a very active year for green hospitality. The number one news story? It is TripAdvisor’s April launch of its GreenLeaders program. More than 2,000 lodging establishments are now participating. Expect that number to grow dramatically, especially once TripAdvisor expands GreenLeaders outside of the United States. The second most significant news announcement was MGM Resorts International and NRG Energy, Inc.’s announcement of the development of a 6.2-megawatt solar photovoltaic installation at the Mandalay Bay Resort Convention Center.
Caesars Entertainment Corp. recently released its 2012 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability report, “Vibrant Communities.” The report summarizes the impacts of Caesars on “people, society and the environment” during 2012 and the early part of 2013. For those of you not entirely familiar with Caesars, the company’s properties operate primarily under the Harrah’s, Caesars, and Horseshoe brand names. Unique to the report is its adherence to the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) G4 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines—guidelines released earlier this year. I read through the report and was impressed by the company’s accomplishments—especially its 8.5 percent reduction in electricity and gas consumption from 2007 through 2012. Key to the savings is aggressive investments in retrofits.
Sometime between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Tuesday, December 17, a North American Van Lines truck will pull up in front of our home in University Heights, Ohio. A crew will load up the truck for my family’s move to Tampa, Fla. After living my entire life in Ohio, I will be making the move south thanks to a new job opportunity for my wife. As I go, so too will go Green Lodging News. As of December 23, the address of our new office will be 7438 Gunn Hwy., Tampa, Fla. 33625. While my cell number will remain the same—(216) 702-0334—my office number will change to (813) 510-3868. Of course my e-mail will remain the same—firstname.lastname@example.org. While I am certainly looking forward to nicer weather, especially at this time of the year, I will miss family and friends here in Ohio.
Environment America recently released its report on America’s Dirtiest Power Plants. It is important reading because it is likely that your property’s electricity is generated by one of them. You can help address the problem by reducing your property’s draw of electricity and by pressuring your utility company to clean up their plants and transition to cleaner, renewable energy technologies. According to the report, power plants are the largest source of global warming pollution in the United States, responsible for 41 percent of the nation’s production of carbon dioxide pollution, the leading greenhouse gas driving global warming. The 50 most-polluting U.S. power plants emit more than 2 percent of the world’s energy-related carbon dioxide pollution—or more pollution than every nation except six worldwide.
If you are considering capital investments to increase the energy or water efficiency of your building, you need to pay attention to Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. I have met a couple of people recently specializing in PACE and just posted an article on the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City and how it used this type of financing to fund $7 million in upgrades in items ranging from LED lighting to HVAC systems. According to PACENow, PACE is an “innovative way to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to buildings. Interested property owners evaluate measures that achieve energy savings and receive 100 percent financing, repaid as a property tax assessment for up to 20 years. The assessment mechanism has been used nationwide for decades.
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