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In today’s marketplace, there is a plethora of product certifications, labels and declarations that manufacturers and builders use to communicate a product’s value to clients. However, owners, product specifiers and building occupants all have different interests and motivations. Just as each person’s background and experience varies, so do their beliefs when it comes to sustainability. The good news? Studies show we are all becoming more aware of and concerned with issues surrounding social and environmental health and sustainability. Making use of product labels, including declarations and certifications, is one way to make more informed choices; however, deciphering the claims behind the label can be challenging. So where to start? Everyone is interested in obtaining the most healthy and environmentally friendly products, but the criteria used to achieve these lofty goals must be defined and measured before any manufacturer or specific product can truthfully make these proclamations. Should a product be climate neutral or contain no volatile organic compounds (VOCs)?
BANGKOK—Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas announced that Jeffery Smith has joined the group in the role of Director of Sustainability. In his new role, Smith will ensure that Six Senses remains at the leading edge of sustainable tourism practices. These include environmental performance of each property, support for the preservation of natural and cultural heritage, and enhancing social and economic benefits to local communities in destinations where Six Senses operates. Smith joins Six Senses with 11 years of broad experience of delivering green programs, with internal and external engagement. His most recent role was in the delivery of solar energy solutions for Canadian company Solar Brokers. Prior to this position, he was based in Thailand as Projects Director for Global Vision International where he provided leadership to meet regional objectives for sustainable development. This followed a four-year tenure in the progressive rolls of Sustainability Consultant, Manager and Project Manager for Elephant Nature Park, a sanctuary with tourism components located in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Smith’s wide experience also includes roles in environmental engineering.
ILE-DE-FRANCE—AccorHotels recently released the results of Planet 21, its sustainable development program, and renewed its commitments looking to 2020. Sébastien Bazin, the Group’s Chairman & CEO, stated, “The commitment and energy demonstrated by our teams in deploying Planet 21 worldwide, are both valuable levers for our sustainable performance. After five years, the results of the first phase of the plan are very encouraging. Today, we want to scale up our ambitions by banking on innovation and accountability. Planet 21 Season 2 must enable us to create wealth sustainably and curb our negative impacts through the mobilization of our employees, guests, partners and local communities. Our vision is to drive the change towards positive, more responsible and inventive hospitality, wherever we are.” As part of a policy of progress and transparency, the Group asked its customers for their views on these issues, updated its environmental footprint and assessed its socio-economic footprint for the first time to assess the challenges it faces and construct its new five-year program. The program for 2020 was drawn up in consultation with the teams. It reinforces some of the Group’s fundamental commitments, such as curbing its environmental footprint, and identifies new objectives which dovetail with both the changes to the business model and its strategic priorities, such as food & beverage and the sustainable management of its property portfolio through HotelInvest.
OBERLIN, OHIO—One of the world’s most innovative green hotels—The Hotel at Oberlin—is just one month away from its soft opening in Oberlin, Ohio. The hotel is owned by Oberlin College and eventually will qualify for the rare LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The 70-room Hotel at Oberlin is the first LEED Platinum hotel owned by a college and anchors the Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center, the cornerstone of Oberlin’s Green Arts District, an ongoing development conceived by the city and college to transform Oberlin into a model for environmentally aware economic development based on education and the arts. The Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center also includes a conference center, commercial and office space, jazz club, and restaurant that features locally grown and sourced fare. The name of the restaurant, 1833, honors the year the college and town of Oberlin were founded. “Our path to LEED Platinum is based on energy efficiency more than anything else,” says Christopher Noble, Project Developer, SMART Hotels LLC.
NEW YORK—Humanscale, a company long dedicated to incorporating sustainable practices in their manufacturing processes, will be committing to the International Living Future Institute’s Living Product Challenge with their Float sit/stand desk and Diffrient Smart task chair in 2016. The only contract furniture brand to participate in the challenge, this represents a significant undertaking on behalf of the manufacturer and signals a message to the industry that a net positive impact is not only an important and achievable aim for the brand, but something the industry as a whole should be working towards. While taking on only a part of the Challenge is an option, Humanscale is demonstrating their commitment to the cause by pledging to complete the Challenge in its entirety.
SPOKANE, WASH.—Ecova, a leading global energy and sustainability management company, announced that it has published its 2015 Corporate Responsibility Report. It details the company’s impact on clients, the environment, employees and communities. The report also shows significant reductions in Ecova’s carbon footprint, important investments in new solutions and improved performance in climate change reporting.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA.—In honor of its 20th anniversary, the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF) announced a targeted philanthropic strategy to help protect the planet through collaborating with leading nonprofit organizations that will help threatened wildlife and inspire a lifelong love for nature in young people. The new initiative, called “Reverse the Decline, Increase the Time,” is aimed at reversing the decline of 10 threatened species through scientific research, community collaboration, and increasing the time kids spend in nature. “Wildlife and wild places have always been an inspiration to Disney, and we take pride in instilling that same inspiration in kids and families,” said Dr. Beth Stevens, Senior Vice President, Environment and Conservation, Corporate Citizenship, The Walt Disney Company. “We believe that conservation and caring for the planet are more than just good ideas—they are core to who we are as a company. With the Disney Conservation Fund’s new initiative, it is our hope that our actions will help protect some of nature’s most precious habitats and ensure the health of our planet for generations to come.”
BANGKOK, THAILAND—Minor Hotel Group (MHG) has moved to cement itself as one of the global leaders in sustainable tourism by implementing the Green Growth 2050 (GG2050) sustainability solution. MHG has committed its 35 resorts and hotels under the Anantara brand to the Green Growth 2050 program, launched in 2015, with many already undergoing certification. A further 35 hotels under different MHG brands are currently implementing the performance measurement solution planned for live operation later in 2016. “In identifying a sustainability partner for the Hotel Group, Minor was looking for a solution that could take our hotels to the next level,” said John Roberts, MHG Director of Conservation Efforts. “A program with the potential to operate across our entire portfolio.” “We found Green Growth 2050 was the only solution that brought together a GSTC recognized Certification Standard, aligned with international conventions including the UN Global Compact, with true measurement of our sustainability initiatives across over 200 GRI and tourism based metrics,” Roberts added.
DALLAS—ITP (International Tourism Partnership) announced that its employability program the Youth Career Initiative (YCI) has won the People category at the WTTC Tourism 4 Tomorrow Awards in Dallas. Accepting the Award at the WTTC Global Summit, Head of YCI Alberto Canovas said, “On behalf of a very large number of organizations and people across the globe who have made the Youth Career Initiative possible, from hotel partners and nonprofit partners, to our donors and last but not least, our small yet very passionate and dedicated team, I would like to give my sincerest and heartfelt thanks to WTTC and the judging panel for bestowing such a prestigious accolade onto YCI.”
LAS VEGAS—Cruelty free. Paraben free. No animal testing. No artificial colors. No synthetic ingredients. No phthalates, mineral oil and petrol-derived ingredients. These are just some of the phrases one has gotten used to when purchasing amenity products from companies that aim to be as environment and health conscious as possible. Concept Amenities, an amenities company that got its start in Australia and that now also has offices in the United States, Europe and Singapore, is aiming to add another phrase to the mix: “Carbon Neutral.” According to Chris Holmes, Product Development Manager for Concept Amenities, the company is currently offering its customers the opportunity to purchase 100 percent carbon neutral products—amenities that have had their carbon emissions offset through the purchase of carbon offsets from the Australia-based Carbon Reduction Institute (CRI). Gary Coward, President and COO of Concept Amenities, says a number of companies and hotels already have moved to carbon neutral guest amenities. These include Vantage Hospitality Group, Red Lion Hotel Group, five Best Western International brands, Bellagio, Aria and Vdara.
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