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As someone who’s been in the laundry equipment business for more than 30 years, I can say without any doubt, that these are the most exciting times I’ve experienced. Technology in this industry has progressed to a level where it’s no longer just about throughput. Programmability and engineering have made the machines immensely important management tools. Automatic weighing systems are now adjusting water fill levels and chemical dosing to match the loads. Residual moisture technology can continually measure the dryness level of the load and step down the heat, before shutting the tumbler off when the preset moisture level has been attained. Exciting engineering, indeed. However, what I think I’m most enthused about is the changing mindset within the hospitality industry.
For the hospitality industry, managing the infrastructure of buildings, facilities and equipment is critical to the operational success of the hotel. At the same time, the hotel must comply with strict quality and safety guidelines, along with the many service level standards to meet the needs of their most valuable assets—their guests. A property can easily focus on top-line growth for revenue management, distribution strategies and creating profitability via customer loyalty, but sustainability is intrinsically difficult to quantify. And, even though sustainability typically touches nearly all aspects of hotel enterprise ownership and management, aligning environmental, social and financial factors to promote responsible business operations over time can be daunting for staff.
A guest first arrives at your property. When they do, those first few moments will likely be what they remember and set the tone for their entire stay and experience. So how do you imprint the green behaviors that you want your guests to have, or convey the “green facility” features that you want to convey? If you miss that window and your guest harbors negative perceptions of your facility, you will likely spend their entire stay trying to overcome that. The moment your guests arrive is an incredibly busy moment for them. They are likely tired from their trip. They want to get through the check-in process quickly. This is not the time for unsolicited lengthy diatribes or lectures about environmental actions or ethics. They don’t need a litany of details about the tightness of your building envelope.
Since its founding in 1989, Green Seal, a not-for-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., has developed standards for more than 375 categories of products and services, from paints and adhesives to cleaning products. These standards are designed to address the environmental and social impacts of a product using a lifecycle approach—considering everything from the raw materials used to make the product to the manufacturing process and the product’s eventual disposal. This evaluation involves independent, third-party testing protocols using state-of-the-art scientific technologies that are internationally accepted. One of Green Seal’s latest standards applies specifically to the hotel and hospitality industries for both in-house laundry and laundry sent to outside services.
When it comes to green cleaning, an often underemphasized area is the need for matting at all hotel entries. Stopping dust, soils, and contaminants before they ever enter a facility helps reduce the need for cleaning and enhances indoor environmental quality. This is why it makes sense to place effective matting systems at the heart of any green cleaning program. The most effective type of mats are referred to as high-performance mats, which are higher-quality mats that have a performance life of several years. These mats are often part of what is called a soil “source control” strategy. It is common to overlook the impact that sidewalks, parking lots, entries, and other areas can have on the health of the indoor environment. But, as much as 90 percent of the dust and dirt that enters a facility “walks in” through building entries.
Remember those days when we didn’t have to worry about bed bugs? When we were dancing in the brilliance of chemicals and our freedom from pests? Well, we were bugless, but our environment and wildlife was suffocating from the affects of harmful chemicals like DTT, and the pesticides were also affecting our own health. The change in pesticide practices has enabled the resurgence of bed bugs. But even if we kept up our bad habits, the bed bugs would have reappeared anyway. All those chemicals have only created a greater monster—they’re now resistant to many pesticides. International travel hasn’t helped us much. Travelers bring the bed bugs with them. Hotels once used residual chemicals constantly in their rooms in order to maintain a “pest free” status. But in the 1990s they replaced their pesticides with traps for other pests.
If you’re reading this you recognize that there is a portion of your customer base who values green initiatives and you are trying to reach those guests. Those guests may be groups who have made “green” a criterion for selecting locations for their meetings or annual conferences. Or they may be individuals who are extending their environmental values to all aspects of their life—even recreation and travel. But how do you showcase your green commitment? It’s not easy to see green. To showcase your green commitment, don’t overlook the value of prominent high-aesthetic recycling containers. Whether it’s fair or not, many of your guests will judge your green efforts by the visual clues they see. Recycling bins offer your guests a constant visual reminder of your green initiatives.
If you are an owner or manager of a hotel, sustainability is now your number one business risk factor. Many forces are going to combine to drive up hotel ownership costs in the next three years. Besides the usual inflation type expenses, energy and employees, the big ones are going to be global warming taxation and new green building codes. Global warming has been a disputed topic of discussion for decades, championed by most scientists, a few public figures, celebrities, environmental evangelists, and a few progressive companies. Unfortunately, global warming never made it onto the radar screen of hotel owners even though their customers have been telling them in survey after survey for the last five years they want to stay at environmentally friendly places.
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.—Atlantic City sees “green” in more than just money these days. Since 2008, the Atlantic City Convention and Visitor’s Authority (ACCVA) has been overseeing environmentally friendly initiatives that have made the area one of the “greenest” meeting destinations in the United States. ACCVA is a member of the ASAE Convene Green Alliance (CGA), a partnership that allows the organization to learn about and share its experiences on how to lessen its environmental impact. “Atlantic City was an early industry partner of CGA, a community of nearly 1,000 association meeting professionals and hospitality partners,” says Kristin Clarke, Convene Green coordinator. “Its commitment to sustainability and social giveback is authentic, and our members know that.”
In the summer of 2011, after many years of smaller, hotel specific efforts to improve our purchases, Saunders Hotel Group officially launched its Sustainable Purchasing Policy (SPP) company-wide. It was comprehensive, it was detailed, it was specific while remaining widely applicable, and by the fall of 2011 it was most likely out of date. In broad terms, our SPP is designed to assist purchasing managers to select better products. We fully understand that what is better today may be standard (hopefully) tomorrow. Therefore the SPP will continually evolve. As it stands now, the SPP provides excellent support and information on a variety of goods and services. However, hotel managers won’t leaf through a thick stack detailing the policy at every purchase.
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