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For most egg-laying hens, it is not an easy life. Raised on factory farms in wire cages, they typically have the space of an iPad to live on for 1.5 to two years—not enough space to do anything other than lay eggs. Josh Balk, Senior Food Policy Director, The Humane Society of the United States, told me that when it comes to animal cruelty, living conditions for egg-laying hens is the No. 1 concern. In case you missed it, earlier this month Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide announced plans to source 100 percent of its eggs from cage-free chickens across its supply chain by 2020. In an announcement regarding the change, Andrea Pinabell, Starwood’s Vice President of Sustainability, said, “Animal welfare is important to our customers and our company, and many of our hotels around the world already use cage-free eggs.” Balk says Starwood joins more than 60 other major companies that have made a commitment to transition to cage-free eggs. Among those companies are Hilton Worldwide, Marriott International, and Hyatt Hotels and Resorts.
“It has absolutely helped us to have such a focus on sustainability.” These are the words of Ed Sutor, President of Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, Dover, Del. I spoke with Ed recently for an article I posted this past week on the property’s sustainability initiatives. I had asked Ed whether or not what Dover Downs does in the area of sustainability brings in new business. “We reply to RFPs all the time,” Ed told me. “Inevitably, one of the questions is: ‘Describe your green program.’ It is critical to getting conventions.” One example of an event that Dover Downs will be hosting this year is Sustain 2016, the Mid-Atlantic’s Annual Hospitality Conference, on March 14 to 15. I will be moderating a session at that event entitled, “Innovation All Stars: Case Studies of Three Companies Determined to Make Our World More Sustainable.” Panelists will include: William F. Kratzer, Chief Technology Officer, BioHitech; Justin Fishkin, Chief Strategy Officer, Local Motors; and Micah Green, CEO, Maidbot. Be sure to attend the event if you can.
I have written or posted articles about food waste frequently over the years—articles focused on everything from food waste prevention to decomposition machines to a food waste disposal ban in Massachusetts. Nine years ago I wrote an article that briefly addressed food waste disposers. A lot can change in nine years and that is why I just posted an updated article on disposers and disposer systems based on my own research as well as conversations with leaders representing our industry’s two leading disposer brands—Salvajor and InSinkErator. Both of these companies, and others, are making it easier to dramatically reduce food waste volume while minimizing water and energy consumption. Food waste is much more than a practical, costly kitchen problem. It is a huge environmental one as well. According to Emerson Electric Co., owner of the InSinkErator brand of food waste disposers, each year in the United States, nearly 34 million tons of food waste is trucked to landfills.
Not unnoticed this past week was news from two U.S. government agencies—NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)—that 2015 shattered 2014’s record to become the hottest year since reliable record-keeping began. Fifteen of the 16 hottest years on record have now occurred in this century, according to NASA. NOAA said that for December, the “temperature departure from average was also the highest departure among all months in the historical record and the first time a monthly departure has reached 2°F.” In Paris in December, global leaders agreed that our planet should not be allowed to warm 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures. Based on 2015’s temperature record, however, we are already half way to that 2 degrees. This news, plus the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Risks Report (a report every CEO should read), put climate change front and center this past week.
This past week was one of the busiest news weeks in quite some time. First, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the expansion of New York City’s Javits Center by 1.2 million square feet, resulting in a fivefold increase in meeting and ballroom space, including the largest ballroom in the Northeast. The proposal includes the installation of a 34,000-square-foot solar energy array, the largest of its kind on a public building in New York State. As a part of the expansion project, the Javits Center will seek LEED Platinum certification—a rare feat for convention centers. The expansion will complement the improvements of a previous renovation completed in 2014 that included a new façade and flooring; mechanical, technology and sustainability systems; and a 6.75-acre green roof, the second largest of its kind in the country. As a result of those upgrades, the Javits Center achieved LEED Silver certification.
Hilton Worldwide just published its 2015 Corporate Responsibility (CR) Report—four years after launching its corporate responsibility strategy, Travel with Purpose. The two-page report is a very brief summary of a long series of initiatives and represents the work of 157,000 associates at 4,500 hotels. Focus areas include: people, communities and the environment. Green Lodging News just published an article summarizing the results of Hilton’s largest ever Global Month of Service. It is just one example of the company’s efforts to help people in need. During 2015’s Global Month of Service, team members united to work on 4,145 projects and contributed more than 213,000 volunteer hours in 92 countries. In Australia, at the Hilton Adelaide, team members partnered with Kickstart for Kids, a local organization that provides breakfast to school children, to help fund a yearlong breakfast program for 16 local schools.
A number of years ago, what was then Hotel & Motel Management magazine dropped “Motel” from its name and became “Hotel Management.” I am not sure of the motivations for the change. It certainly was one more stake in the heart of the “motor hotel” word that has certainly seen its better days. That said, there are many thriving motels in the world today and of course Motel 6 is the most prominent motel brand in the United States. Add the number of motels together—Motel 6 alone has more than 1,100 locations—and you have got quite an environmental impact. Sadly, according to the 2014 Lodging Survey, properties falling into the Economy category tend to participate less in green initiatives. Recycling is probably the most dramatic example—just 31 percent of Economy level properties participating when compared to 90 percent at the Luxury and Upper Upscale levels.
As another year winds down, I have to say a big thank you to the many sponsors who have made another year of Green Lodging News possible. When you contact them for help with energy conservation, water conservation, waste management, amenities, etc., be sure to tell them you discovered them here at Green Lodging News. This year was another year of growth for Green Lodging News. A year ago this month, our website attracted 23,000 different visitors and 145,000 total visits. This month our site is on track to attract 28,000 different visitors and 183,000 total visits. Thank you so much for supporting Green Lodging News with your readership. In the coming year continue to send your news and story ideas my way. And, if you are interested in contributing a guest column or other article, give me a call or send an e-mail. Our success is due greatly to the many public relations representatives, suppliers, consultants and others who contribute content.
“We were recycling ninjas.” That is how Kathy Mantz described herself, her associates at Waste Management, and the events team at Casa Marina, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, after Waste Management and Casa Marina pulled off a rare zero waste event at Casa Marina in Key West, Fla. earlier this month. The occasion was the Seventh Annual Southeast Florida Regional Climate Leadership Summit. The attendance at the event was 435. For those not familiar with the criterion for a zero waste event, Mantz, Government Affairs Manager for Waste Management, says, “If 90 percent or more of the material can be diverted away from the landfill, it can be considered a zero waste event.” While reaching zero waste was a first for Casa Marina, it was not for Waste Management. “We also have the Waste Management Phoenix Open as a zero waste event,” Mantz says. Getting to zero waste was a lot of work.
I have got Santa Claus on my mind. My son, who turned four in August, has me twisted in knots trying to explain why there are so many Santa Claus look-alikes walking around. When I posed the idea that they were “Santa’s helpers,” he was skeptical. He is a smart kid; he knows Santa’s real helpers are the elves. It is only a matter of time before he figures out the real truth. Arrrgh. Santa also came to mind this past week as I was trying to explain “the chimney effect” in my article about open vents at the top of elevator shafts. I was inspired to write the article by a report entitled, “Spending Through the Roof.” It was prepared by Urban Green Council for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Buildings of at least 10 stories in height have the most potential to suffer from the chimney effect. if rooftop vents are left open at the top of elevator shafts.
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