One More Energy-, Water-Saving System to Consider for Your Laundry

by Glenn Hasek May 28, 2015 05:36

Earlier this month I posted an article on ozone laundry systems, the suppliers who offer those systems, and the many benefits that can be derived from using ozone in washers. I just heard from a company that does something very similar to the suppliers I mentioned in my article. The company is OMNI Chemicals. OMNI, not a Green Lodging News advertiser, is somewhat different from the other ozone system suppliers in that they also manufacture the chemicals used in the laundry in conjunction with their system that uses hydroxyl radicals. According to OMNI, its advanced oxidation system uses the heavy humid air in a washroom to fuel its UV dispenser which creates hydroxyl radicals. What is created stimulates all facets of the wash process as the radicals are 500 percent more reactive than chlorine bleach or the older ozone technology. This next generation technology is dispensed just like one of the other chemicals in measured precise doses to achieve the desired outcomes.

“This is a huge change from previous applications or equipment associated with ozone,” the company says. “Unlike ozone, hydroxyl radicals have no harmful side effects and is supported by both the CDC and EPA.”

OMNI’s business model is also quite unique in that they offer their system and chemical pumps at no cost with the purchase of a one year supply of laundry and housekeeping chemicals. According to the company’s website, its system works best in cold environments and leaves no harmful byproducts behind. OMNI’s laundry chemical products are designed specifically to perform in cold environments with hydroxyls. All of OMNI’s products are completely biodegradable and do not contain any harmful and dangerous compounds such as alkalis or caustics. OMNI is also a provider of natural cleaning products for glass and other surfaces.

As you evaluate all of the suppliers mentioned in my original article, be sure to include OMNI Chemicals in the mix.

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GoFoam Florida Reaches Out to Green Lodging News

by Glenn Hasek May 20, 2015 06:50

I recently heard from someone representing a local foam advocacy site here in Florida. The name of the site is GoFoam Florida. In case you are wondering what kind of foam I am referring to, it is the polystyrene foam found in cups (often referred to as Styrofoam cups, even though Styrofoam is a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company that is used for insulation, not food packaging products). Polystyrene foam is also used in egg cartons, serving trays, to-go containers, etc. GoFoam is an affiliate of Dart Container Corp., maker of polystyrene foam containers. Of course it is in the best interest of Dart to do what it can to keep folks using polystyrene foam. For those who do, and there are a lot of you, Dart has provided a map of public drop-off locations for polystyrene foam recycling. A quick check found just four locations here in Florida.

There are recycling “hot spots” in the Northeast, Michigan and California but as a whole those of you still using foam containers would be hard pressed to find a drop-off location.

I wrote about a proposed polystyrene foam ban in New York City a couple of years ago in my blog. It is pretty clear that the person who wrote to me was given marching orders to try to combat any negative press polystyrene foam had gotten.

On the GoFoam Florida site Dart explains what happens to foam containers that are recycled. They are used to make items such as garden nursery trays, picture frames, rulers, and architectural molding. Dart also explains the other advantages: less costly than more easily biodegradable alternatives, insulates better than paper, etc. In its “About” section, GoFoam comes right out and says, “Foam is good for the environment.” One of the criticisms of polystyrene foam is that it biodegrades slowly and is thus seen as a huge litter problem. Dart says, however, that it is not the foam that is the issue, it is people’s behavior. “A foam ban will not stop people from littering,” Dart says. Of course that is unfortunately true. My advice is to study all of the alternatives when it comes to packaging. If you still use polystyrene foam, certainly seek out recycling options. If there are no drop-off locations in your area—and I recognize it is an extra burden to have to go drop off anything—seriously explore other packaging options. Your thoughts? I can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

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A Bit of Green News from Day One of HD Expo

by Glenn Hasek May 14, 2015 05:44

HD Expo has always been one of my favorite shows and for good reason. From a sustainability or “green” standpoint, there are always many new products to discover, many new green stories to uncover, and other news to pick up as well. Day one of this year’s event at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas proved to be no exception. My first stop on the trade show floor was booth 5872. There, I found first-time exhibitor WoodTrac introducing its new decorative wooden ceiling system. The system is an alternative to the standard drop ceiling systems. The system has Forest Stewardship Council Chain-of-Custody Certification and includes recycled wood content. WoodTrac is a division of Sauder Woodworking. Sauder’s cogeneration plant in Ohio is fueled by sawdust from its manufacturing operations. At booth 3211 I learned about a just announced collaboration between CentraLite and Leggett & Platt Smart Products. The two companies have combined to produce a guestroom energy management system that goes beyond others I have seen. For example, guests can choose their optimal room temperature prior to their stay.

During the show Leggett & Platt Smart Products introduced LPSense Illuminate. It is a lighting system that senses a guest’s presence. It can be integrated into furniture, including beds, night stands and dressers. The product was developed to help guests navigate dark rooms. Leggett & Platt Smart Products also introduced Helios Time, a bedside alarm clock that offers Qi wireless charging technology, Bluetooth streaming, Wi-Fi connectivity and a carbon monoxide detector.

Simmons Hospitality Bedding (booth 2823) announced that it has added TENCEL fiber to its Advanced Temperature Management Design. TENCEL is now the first layer of temperature control in the mattress, helping to absorb and wick away moisture, Simmons says. TENCEL is a botanic fiber from Lenzing Group. At booth 2435 I learned about Grohe America’s enhanced GROHE Blue Chilled + Sparkling faucet that offers users the option of dispensing filtered still, medium sparkling or full sparkling water. The system eliminates the need for plastic bottled water. Through five layers of filtration, the five-stage filter removes all unwanted substances that will affect the taste and smell of water.

Be sure to read about other interesting products I discovered at HD Expo in my upcoming Publisher’s Point of View column. Finally, it was while walking the trade show floor that I ran into a friend from Lodging magazine. He informed me that Bill Corsini is no longer with Lodging. Bill was the driving force behind the 2013 and 2014 Lodging Green & Sustainability Conference + Expo. Lodging still plans to organize a conference in 2016 but losing Bill will be a setback for sure.

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ITP: September 2016 is Goal for Release of Water Measurement Methodology

by Glenn Hasek May 07, 2015 05:45

It was about four years ago that a Working Group was formed to work on development of a methodology to calculate and communicate the carbon footprint of hotel stays and meetings in a consistent and transparent way. That methodology was released in mid-2012 and was named Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative (HCMI) 1.0. According to the International Tourism Partnership (ITP), there are now 21,500 hotels around the world currently using HCMI. ITP just announced plans to standardize water measurement in the industry this past week. A working group that has been focusing on other water issues the last two years will now collaborate to create a standardized approach to measuring and communicating water consumption across the hotel industry. The hotel industry has been inconsistent in how it measures and communicates water consumption, says Fran Hughes, Head of Programmes, ITP. Fran told me the most commonly used metric today is consumption per occupied room. “This is the metric requested via RFPs,” she says.

“We will be reviewing this as a working group to ensure it is the most appropriate metric,” Fran says. “Yes, you could ask a hotel for the water footprint of a meeting but at this stage you may get it in different ways from different companies, hence developing a common standard through shared learning and consensus on best practice.” It is too early to say what the agreed-upon metric eventually will be, Fran said. From this point on, a call has been scheduled for Tuesday to review working group members’ current practices. These practices were collected using a survey. “We will then look at external methodologies and start to work through the issues we have identified, such as how to account for water consumption outside metered municipal supply, how to account for outsourced laundry, landscaping, factoring in water scarcity and so forth,” Fran said. “We are at the start of the journey but we hope to launch the methodology publicly in September 2016.”

Be sure to continue to follow Green Lodging News for updates on the methodology.

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Deloitte Report: CFOs Increasingly Involved in Setting, Executing Sustainability Strategy

by Glenn Hasek April 30, 2015 05:14

Deloitte recently released a new whitepaper entitled, “CFOs and Sustainability: Shaping Their Roles in an Evolving Environment.” The whitepaper compares the results of Deloitte’s 2013 CFO Sustainability Survey against those from the company’s 2012 survey. The findings reveal some interesting trends as they relate to the role of the CFO when it comes to sustainability.* According to Deloitte, CFOs are becoming more involved in setting and executing sustainability strategy. In fact, in 2012, 27 percent of CFOs surveyed said they are always involved in setting sustainability strategy. In 2013 that number climbed to 43 percent. In 2012, 32 percent said they are always involved in driving organizational execution of their firm’s sustainability strategy. In 2013 the percentage jumped to 45 percent. A total of 73 percent of respondents said their involvement in sustainability had increased or slightly increased during the last year. Eighty percent of respondents expect their involvement in sustainability to increase or slightly increase in the next two years.

The survey found that CEOs are increasingly accountable to the board for a firm’s sustainability strategy (62 percent in 2013 compared to 44 percent in 2012). The impact of sustainability on key financial decisions has increased in M&A (to 48 percent in 2013, up from 33 percent in 2012), capital allocation (60 percent, up from 48 percent in 2012), and capital raising (55 percent, up from 44 percent in 2012). Compliance with new energy efficiency and carbon regulations was most often cited as a very important sustainability-related finance initiative in 2013. This was also the case in 2011 although, in the 2012 survey, compliance was edged out (by one percentage point) by investment in cleantech products.

Key areas cited by CFOs as being those in which they “plan to make capital investments in the next two years” include industrial emissions reductions equipment (61 percent), building energy efficient equipment (61 percent), software for energy and carbon management (54 percent), and software for environmental management (50 percent).

When asked to select among barriers to capital investments in sustainability initiatives, CFOs most often noted failure to pay back within two years—cited as first or second most significant by a total of 64 percent—and the business case benefits not being properly quantified—cited as first or second most significant by a total of 49 percent, followed very closely by the benefits being too small compared with those of other potential projects (at 48 percent).

To access the complete report, click here.

*On behalf of Deloitte, Verdantix interviewed the chief financial officers, finance directors, or, in non-English speaking nations, their equivalents in 250 companies in 15 different industries and 15 countries (including countries from the Middle East and the Benelux states). Each company had annual revenue greater than $1 billion. Average annual revenue was $11.5 billion. Total revenue of all companies exceeded $2.9 trillion. Industries represented include automotive, basic resources, business services and media, chemicals, construction and materials, energy and utilities, financial services, food and beverages, hotels and leisure, industrial and high-tech engineering, personal and household products, pharmaceuticals and medical, retail, technology and telecommunications, and travel and transportation. A minimum of 12 interviews per industry were conducted.

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Some Earth Day Reflections—45 Years After Earth Day’s Founding

by Glenn Hasek April 22, 2015 05:13

Happy Earth Day! This year marks the 45th anniversary of the first Earth Day in 1970. How will your property or company be marking the occasion? As mentioned in last week’s blog post, there is a lot of Earth Day activity today in our industry. Taking the time once each year to officially recognize the environmental challenges in front of us is important. You have got to understand the challenges in order to overcome them. Earth Day is also a day for celebration—recognizing the collective, positive work of individuals throughout your company. When was the last time you celebrated your team’s environmental accomplishments? For me, in my position as editor of Green Lodging News, Earth Day is a day to look back over the almost nine years of producing my publication to get a sense of how our industry’s commitment to environmental protection has evolved—and it certainly has evolved, for the better, over those nine years. Today, it is quite difficult to keep up with all of our industry’s sustainability-related news.

There was a time when it was much easier, as a decade ago there were just a handful of companies with formal green programs. Consider that in 2005 there were just two LEED certified lodging establishments. Clean the World and Global Soap, the two nonprofits recycling soap (now together under Clean the World), did not exist and neither did programs such as Hilton’s LightStay or InterContinental Hotels Group’s Green Engage. Marriott was not using Green Hotels Global to collect utility data and environmental best practices and TripAdvisor had years to go before launching its now widely adopted GreenLeaders program. There was no Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative, no large-scale solar installations, and LEDs were primarily found in hotel signage, not in hotel lobbies, restaurants or guestrooms. Technological advancements over the last decade—wireless communication, variable speed drives, Internet-based tools, etc.—have all made it easier to lessen one’s environmental impact.

As you look back over the last decade, or if you can the last 45 years, what stands out as the most significant step our industry has taken to become more sustainable? What stands out for me is our industry’s collective effort to monitor its impact and progress.

Chances are good that I will not be around for another 45 years. From wherever I am at that point, it will be fascinating to see how much more sustainable our industry has gotten—and what people, trends, pressures, procedures and technologies got them there. Your thoughts? I can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

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Hotels, Companies, Suppliers Lining Up Earth Day Activities

by Glenn Hasek April 15, 2015 06:21

Earth Day (April 22) is just one week away. While many hotel companies, individual lodging establishments and suppliers will be unveiling their Earth Day plans in the coming week, some have already released their plans. Initiatives range from community events to special promotions for guests. Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts is celebrating Earth Day all month long in April with the global rollout of its culinary sustainability initiative, Rooted in Nature. Special Rooted in Nature events and promotions taking place at all Shangri-La and Kerry hotels will highlight sustainable sources of produce, fish, and meat that can be found on the hotels’ menus year-round and celebrate the purveyors who responsibly steward the land and sea to provide Shangri-La chefs with the best possible ingredients. Dishes on offer will include produce and herbs grown on hotel grounds, locally-sourced organic vegetables and fruits, line-caught fish, free range poultry and beef, honey from a hotel’s own beehive, and more. The Portola Hotel & Spa will be partnering with the Monterey Regional Airport to celebrate Earth Day.

On April 22, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Portola Hotel & Spa staff will be stationed at the Monterey Regional Airport Baggage Claim area to give away reusable bags made of 100 percent recycled materials. The phrase “I used to be a plastic bottle” will be printed across the reusable bags as a friendly reminder of the utility that comes with recycling.

Portola Hotel & Spa will also be giving out reusable bags to guests checking into the property on Earth Day while supplies last.

The Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center plans to officially kick off its Horticultural Gallery on Earth Day. Unlike a typical art gallery, the Horticultural Gallery at Oak Brook Hills, an IACC Green Star/Gold Status property, will present a cutting-edge array of eco-friendly initiatives happening outdoors in real time, headlined by the resort’s groundbreaking beekeeping program. Included will be a Foodscaping Garden, Chefs Garden and Drink/Cocktail Garden.

L’Auberge Del Mar, A Destination Hotel, is celebrating Earth Day with a Southern California-style paddle out, as well as eco-friendly dining, cocktail and spa specials. The event in honor of ocean preservation will take place on April 22 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at Powerhouse Park and will include the sunset and snacks on the beach afterward. Guests, locals and employees are invited to participate in the event and can bring their own boards or have the hotel concierge arrange for a board rental.

At Chicago’s Hotel Felix on Earth Day, Divvy will give hotel guests free 24-Hour passes to take advantage of their bike-sharing service. Plus, they will offer a discounted rate on the 24-hour pass throughout the month to all Hotel Felix guests.

Environmental nonprofit Audubon International will hold the first global Golf Course BioBlitz, a free program for golf courses, which will run the week of Earth Day, April 19 to 25. BioBlitz is a species counting competition designed to create awareness among golfers and the community about the environmental value of the habitats supported by golf courses. The program, sponsored by the United States Golf Assn., is open to any golf course worldwide including those unaffiliated with Audubon International.

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NRA Releases Second Annual Sustainability Report

by Glenn Hasek April 06, 2015 06:04

The National Restaurant Assn. (NRA) just released its second annual sustainability report. The relative brief report—it is just eight pages in length—highlight’s recent NRA research findings and summarizes last year’s progress under the NRA Conserve program. According to the NRA’s 2015 Restaurant Industry Forecast, 46 percent of all consumers said they would dine at a restaurant offering sustainable or organic food. More than half of respondents ages 18 to 24 said they look to frequent restaurants that practice sustainability. In addition to ranking sustainability as a top menu trend for 2015, more than four in 10 professional chefs surveyed for the NRA’s “What’s Hot” report predicted environmental sustainability would be the hottest menu trend 10 years from now. Last year NRA introduced a new website—restaurant.org/conserve—which offers information about environmentally friendly business practices that save money and protect the environment. A new newsletter called “Bright Ideas” was also launched to help operators not just embrace sustainability, but better understand the financial and environmental impacts it has on their businesses and communities.

In September, NRA unveiled a new research report, “Gauging the Restaurant Industry’s Interest in Sustainability.” About three quarters of 1,000 full-service and quick-service operators surveyed for the report said they recycled used fryer oil, fats and grease. More than six in 10 recycled their cardboard and paper, used compact florescent lighting or bought products made of recycled materials. About three in 10 installed faucet aerators to conserve water.

Also in 2014, NRA worked on helping restaurateurs reduce food waste through its efforts with the Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA). Laura Abshire, the NRA’s Director of Sustainability Policy and Government Affairs, co-chairs the Food Waste Reduction Alliance. NRA is also working with the Foodservice Packaging Institute and U.S. Composting Council to provide toolkits for restaurateurs about recycling and how to compost packaging.

Click here to access the report.

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Fairmont, Wyndham Reveal Earth Hour Plans

by Glenn Hasek March 25, 2015 05:50

At least two major hotel companies are lining up activities for this Saturday’s Earth Hour (8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time)—Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and Wyndham Worldwide. Two separate press announcements were released having to do with Fairmont’s activities and one for Wyndham. In the first Fairmont announcement, the activities of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts of the Western U.S. and Hawaii were summarized. For example, in observance of the international environmental event, the all-suite and villa Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui will turn off non-essential lighting throughout the 22-acre property. More than 200 floating candles will be placed in the lobby fountain and outdoor paths will be lit with battery-operated candle luminaries. At the Fairmont Newport Beach, Chef Brian Doherty will be creating a local and sustainable prix-fixe menu that will be served via candlelight. With dinner, guests will have the option of a Spring Fling cocktail, lit by a glowing cube of ice. Colleagues will encourage guests as well as vendors to go “electricity free” and the hotel’s non-essential lighting will be dimmed.

Guests of The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii may choose to celebrate Earth Hour by enjoying complimentary ocean-side stargazing, compliments of Stargaze Hawaii. The resort’s restaurants and bars will feature sustainable menus and drink specials. Clean burning soy-wax candles from New York-based perfumer Le Labo will be featured in 40 Fairmonts during Earth Hour. The candles will be sold in Fairmont stores and online at fairmontstore.com beginning this fall.

Wyndham is recognizing Earth Hour at its corporate headquarters in Parsippany, N.J., by switching off its lights during the hour and encouraging associates to turn off lights, monitors and other electronics before leaving the building. Additionally, Wyndham is encouraging its global portfolio of brands to participate by turning off or dimming non-essential lighting, with some properties also planning creative offerings for guests such as candlelight dinners. How will your company be marking Earth Hour? Write to me at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

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EPA Grant Funding Creation of Device to Monitor Hotel Guest Shower Impact

by Glenn Hasek March 18, 2015 04:51

The Washington Free Beacon is reporting that a $15,000 EPA grant is being used to fund the creation of a device that would monitor how long hotel guests spend in the shower. According to the article, EPA is spending $15,000 to create a wireless system that will track how much water a hotel guest uses in order to get them to “modify their behavior.” I went to the EPA website and yes it is all true. The grant, “Developing a Wireless Device for Monitoring Water Usage for Hotel Showers,” was awarded to the University of Tulsa and will run through August 14, 2015. According to the grant, “Hotels consume a significant amount of water in the U.S. and around the world. Most hotels do not monitor individual guest water usage and as a result, millions of gallons of potable water are wasted every year by hotel guests.

The proposed work aims to develop a novel low cost wireless device for monitoring water use from hotel guestroom showers. This device will be designed to fit most new and existing hotel shower fixtures and will wirelessly transmit hotel guest water usage data to a central hotel accounting system.

The grant adds, “The proposed wireless device will have three main components: a flow meter, an embedded system and software, and a resource accounting system. This technology will provide hotel guests with the ability to monitor their daily water online or using a smartphone app, and will assist hotel guests in modifying their behavior to help conserve water. The proposed wireless device will be marketed to the hotel industry to reduce costs by promoting water conservation among hotel guests. An interdisciplinary team of undergraduate students from chemical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, and management and marketing will work in a collaborative effort to build and test a prototype device, and explore the market potential of the wireless device.

According to the grant, “It is anticipated that this project will provide a low cost, accurate, small size, low power, wireless device for monitoring water use from hotel showers. The primary goals of this Phase 1 project are to build and test a working prototype and to conduct a preliminary market analysis.”

I contacted and am waiting to hear back from Tyler W. Johannes, Ph.D., an associate professor in the University of Tulsa’s School of Chemical Engineering, who is working on the project.

EPA is not the first to fund research into a device that monitor’s shower length. Last fall I met Kevin Myers, founder of Green Starts Here. His company offers a device called the ShowerSaver, a monitoring device for use in the shower that provides the user with real-time information on shower duration and water consumption. Perhaps Kevin’s company and the University of Tulsa should team up?

Will guests voluntarily take shorter showers if made aware of the water impact they are having? The jury is still out but it will be fascinating to find out their reaction.

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About Me

Glenn Hasek is the publisher and editor of Green Lodging News. He has more than 20 years of experience writing about the lodging industry. He can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com or by phone at (813) 510-3868.