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Writing about environmental sustainability issues is not the most gratifying task. You are invited, dear reader, to please continue reading, though. This article does not attempt to stimulate guilt or parent-ego induced finger wagging. What follows are insights, learnings, thoughts and musings from a hotelier viewing the impact—particularly the hospitality industry’s impact on the environment. These thoughts are based on insights stemming from eight years of hospitality related environmental sustainability consulting work. It is stating subjective observations about possible changes in value perception of a person, a profession and an industry. A hotel is an organization or economic system where goods and services are exchanged for one another or for money. The 18th century (1724 to 1780) free-market economist Adam Smith fathered the idea about the division of labor and the societal benefits of individuals’ pursuit of their own self-interest.
The results of the New York City Mayor’s Zero Waste Challenge were recently revealed, with The Peninsula New York emerging tops in the hotel category. The Peninsula was able to double its diversion rate in just a few months during the Challenge, in the process, emerging as a role model just in time for New York City’s new commercial organics rule. Beginning July 19, 2016, certain New York City businesses are required by law to separate their organic waste for beneficial use (composting, anaerobic digestion or other). Among those affected are food service establishments in hotels with 150 or more rooms, like the Peninsula New York. “Food waste is a big contributor to overall waste,” said Maya Shenkman, Director of Hotel Services at Great Forest, Inc., which participated in the Mayor’s Zero Waste Challenge as a consultant, helping The Peninsula New York and other companies reach their goals.
Businesses care about the sustainability of our planet and they are seeking partners who also care about the planet. Business partners adapt this green initiative in choosing hotels for lodging and facilities where they will hold their conferences. Change the light bulbs to LEDs. Put some solar panels on the roof. These are great steps to take to reduce your carbon footprint. But what do you do with your property’s food waste? A total of 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted annually worldwide. Sending solid food waste to a landfill can create more than 10 times the effect on global warming than you save with your LEDs and solar panels combined. Food wasting in a landfill decomposes in the absence of air—anaerobically—creating methane and other smells. Methane is 72 times worse for the atmosphere than CO2. That’s why it gets such attention and why no one wants a landfill at the end of their street.
It’s no secret that the hospitality industry is competitive. Online ratings and reviews continue to be a crucial resource for consumers and the rise of the sharing economy has added a whole new element to the game. Hotel owners, executives and managers know how important it is to gain and keep a competitive advantage. They often ask themselves, “How do I bring new guests through the lobby doors while keeping past guests coming back time and time again?” The answer to that question just might be something unexpected: sustainability. According to a recent survey conducted by Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), sustainability attributes and environmental impact considerations are an extremely/very important factor to a third (33 percent) of all U.S. consumers and 39 percent of Millennials when they choose hotel accommodations. Further, more than half of consumers (56 percent) say they would entertain the idea of paying more for a hotel room that provided sustainable paper products, such as tissue, and packaging to its guests. Among the Millennial generation, this number rises to 63 percent.
In my 20 years of industrial design experience, it continues to surprise me how many people consider refuse collection to be an addition to a building rather than a core part of its design. As Director of Industrial Design at Rubbermaid Commercial Products, I am often tasked with helping hotels ensure waste is disposed of in the right bin—no small feat when you consider how much waste a hotel can generate on a busy day. What are hotels to do when it comes to their refuse and recycling solutions? What are the common errors? Which bins work best in which areas? Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to solve hotels’ collective challenges, but that does not mean they cannot plan accordingly. When designing a refuse and recycling program to bolster sustainability within a hotel, keep the following points in mind. The first is that one size does not fit all. Large, durable containers often work well in the back of house.
Are you a visionary hotel general manager who has implemented an active environmental sustainability management system (EMS) in his/her operation for several years? Are you a motivated HR professional, belonging to a resort’s green team since the green team’s inauguration? Do you call a regional hotel brand your own? Have you noticed that the majority of your competitors are including environmental sustainability in their hotel operations? Do you desire to match their actions, but are uncertain as to how to begin? Whatever your background, let’s assume talking about environmental sustainability does not make you defensive or doesn’t scare you. Individually, you, dear reader, might be aware of “going green” since the publishing of Silent Spring in 1962, or the bombing of the MV Rainbow Warrior in 1985, or the Rio Conference back in 1992? Since last year’s COP 21 agreement in Paris, France perhaps?
Until recently, fixing leaky ventilation shafts has been a non-starter for most hotels, motels and other hospitality facilities. The expense and disruption typically involved in finding, accessing and sealing leaky ductwork made remediation measures impractical at best. As a result, a tremendous number of U.S. lodgings across the country are plagued by the poor indoor air quality issues and high-energy bills that come from improper ventilation. That is changing. A new approach to duct sealing developed by the U.S. Department of Energy is helping solve this near ubiquitous problem. One case in point: While the JW Marriott hotel in Atlanta’s affluent Buckhead district has always been a model of elegance and luxury, owners of the 28 year-old hotel building continued to struggle with issues related to a poorly designed ventilation system.
Solar is now more cost-effective than ever, offering a number of compelling financial and environmental benefits for the hospitality industry. Solar technologies have been proven over decades in the field, and are becoming increasingly efficient, reliable, and affordable. Large corporations are investing billions in the industry, powering a record number of installations in 2015. Total solar installations hit the 1 million mark in February of this year, and total industry growth is projected to hit a staggering 119 percent this year. As the solar market expands logarithmically, the costs of installation are plummeting. A hotel can reap the benefits of a solar installation in both the short and long terms. Lighting, HVAC and water heating accounts for approximately 60 percent of the total costs for a typical lodging facility; the U.S. Energy Star program estimates that hotels spend about $2,196 per room annually on energy alone.
Recent advancements in battery technology, rising electricity demand rates, and the advent of no/low-risk financing models have made energy storage systems a financially attractive option for hoteliers. However, critical questions remain for hotel managers and owners even after they have decided to invest in energy storage: What is the best way to finance the system and how can it generate the highest ROI? In this article, we’ll evaluate the costs, benefits, and risks of a proposed hotel energy storage system given three financing options and using actual utility cost and use data. California is currently the only state that offers rebates to mitigate upfront system costs, and therefore energy storage is not financially viable in other states until they develop similar programs. In this article, a hotel in San Diego is installing a 36 kW/60 kWh energy storage system consisting of two modular 18 kW batteries. The hotel is 175,000 square feet, 210 rooms, and has an average monthly electricity maximum demand of 318 kW.
One of the big factors for success in any industry is customer care and satisfaction. In the hospitality industry it takes precedence over everything else. Customer experience in hospitality is what drives the popularity and hence, the revenue. So the more the customers are comfortable in the environment the better experience they will have. The biggest driver for their comfort is the feeling of being safe. However, recent incidents have marred the hospitality industry with health concerns over water safety. If the Global Risks 2015 Report by Global Economic Forum is to be believed, the spread of infectious diseases is considered the second most impactful societal risk coming just behind a water crisis. It is said that “fear could ruin any experience” and the fear of water borne diseases is only growing. Possibly due to lack of knowledge, most hotel owners do not realize a central treatment unit is not enough to curb pathogens growing in the pipe and tank systems.