CityCenter Tour Offers Green Glimpse at ARIA Resort & Casino

by Glenn Hasek October 29, 2014 04:55

I have read about and reported on CityCenter in Las Vegas for almost eight years. I finally had an opportunity to take a look at least part of the complex during a tour yesterday. The tour was part of the second annual Lodging Green & Sustainability Conference & Expo. The focus of the tour was the LEED Gold certified ARIA Resort & Casino. Christopher Brophy, Vice President of Sustainability for MGM Resorts International, led the tour which also included part of The Shops at Crystals, the upscale retail complex that is also part of CityCenter. One of the first things I noticed was the volume of artwork. Brophy says $20 million was spent on artwork for CityCenter. A Maya Lin sculpture of the Colorado River sits above the check-in area in the lobby of the ARIA Resort & Casino. Design features in the casino area also reflect the rivers and canyons of the West. Also on property: a Henry Moore sculpture.

Local, sometimes reclaimed materials are evident throughout the property. Natural daylight greatly illuminates public areas and some of the casino spaces as well. Native plants are used in landscaping—both inside and outside. Ventilation is discreetly located in unexpected areas—in the casino its aim is to direct cigarette smoke away from visitors and employees. (The casino part of ARIA is not LEED certified because smoking is still allowed there.)

In The Shops at Crystals, floors are radiant cooled. In the casino Brophy said heating is never needed because of how the building was built but also because of the heat given off by human occupants. Materials and coatings throughout the complex are either no-VOC or low-VOC. A cogeneration plant at CityCenter generates a portion of the site’s electricity while also meeting all of the domestic hot water needs of all buildings and pools in the complex. During construction, more than 90 percent of construction waste was recycled. Harmon Towers, part of the CityCenter complex that was never completely finished because of structural flaws, is about to be deconstructed. Brophy said more than 70 percent of that construction waste will be diverted from the landfill. Food waste from F&B facilities is trucked to a pig farm. CityCenter had a 69 percent waste diversion rate as of the end of September 2014.

Also impressive on the tour was the facilities for employees on a lower level of the complex. It is almost like a separate city with offices, employee cafeteria, “streets” wide enough for cars to ride on, etc. A wall in the employee area was filled with information about CityCenter’s many green accomplishments. Brophy said 18 percent of MGM Resorts International’s 42,000 employees participate in the company’s Green Advantage program.

What was clear during the tour is that one would really need days to completely understand what makes the CityCenter complex eco-efficient. Perhaps next year, if the conference returns to ARIA, conference attendees will get to see even more of the complex.

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Year’s Second Wellness-Focused Certification Program Launched

by Glenn Hasek October 22, 2014 04:42

For the second time this year, wellness is the focus of a new certification program. Back in July, as reported on by Green Lodging News, the Institute for Healthy Destination Accreditation (IHDA) launched a certification program that allows hotels/resorts to achieve Approved Healthy Destination or Certified Healthy Destination status. This week, the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) launched the WELL Building Standard Version 1.0 at the inaugural WELL Building Symposium in New Orleans. Within the IHDA programs, items such as housekeeping practices, amenities, waste management practices, air filtration, safety and security, and community involvement are considered. WELL v1.0 sets performance requirements in seven categories relevant to occupant health and wellbeing: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind.

WELL v1.0 was created through seven years of research and development. Administered by IWBI, the WELL Building Standard is third-party certified through IWBI’s collaboration with the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), which administers 10+ billion square feet of LEED buildings and the 190,000+ person LEED AP program globally, ensuring that WELL works seamlessly with LEED. The WELL Building Standard v1.0 is optimized for commercial and institutional buildings and can be applied to new construction and major renovations, tenant improvements, and core and shell developments.

IWBI was founded by Delos pursuant to a Clinton Global Initiative commitment by Delos founder Paul Scialla to improve the way people live by developing spaces that enhance occupant health and quality of life by sharing the WELL Building Standard globally. Delos has been in the news in lodging the past couple of years for its creation of the Stay Well room concept that has been put in place at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

To date, approximately 5 million square feet of commercial, institutional, and multifamily real estate has been registered for certification through WELL.

In a statement issued regarding the launch of WELL v1.0, IWBI Senior Vice President Michelle Moore said, “Our mission is to bring human health to the forefront of building practices and reinvent buildings so they are not only better for the environment, but also for the people in them. It’s an important point of inflection for our market and our movement. Historically, sustainability has focused on the impact that buildings have on our climate and environment. Bringing wellness into the conversation adds a new emphasis on the individual, and opens up the field for research and development.”

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Highlights from Hilton’s Corporate Responsibility Report

by Glenn Hasek October 16, 2014 05:12

Just two weeks after announcing that more than 4,200 of its properties around the world are now ISO 50001 (energy management) certified, Hilton Worldwide released its third corporate responsibility report. The report is available on Hilton’s website. It highlights efforts, achievements and priorities across the four focus areas of Hilton Worldwide’s corporate responsibility strategy, Travel with Purpose: creating opportunities, strengthening communities, celebrating cultures and living sustainably. Here, I would like to highlight Hilton’s achievements in the area of sustainability. In 2009, Hilton set four five-year sustainability goals based on reductions per building area. In Travel with Purpose Hilton reports that it has achieved three of its goals for the five-year reporting period of 2009 to 2013.

Hilton reduced its carbon output 20.2 percent (goal: 20 percent), waste production by 26.8 percent (goal: 20 percent), and water use 13.1 percent (goal 10 percent). Hilton reduced its energy consumption 13.6 percent, falling short of its 20 percent goal. While not meeting its energy reduction goal, Hilton’s progress is impressive. In 2009 its total kBTU per occupied room was 421.8. In 2013: 311.9.

For those wishing to know how Hilton has achieved its carbon, energy, water and waste reductions, Hilton offers specifics in the Key Initiatives section of its report. Under “Energy”, for example, Hilton explains that 4,800 energy-efficiency projects have been undertaken by hotels. This year Hilton upgraded LightStay, its measurement platform, to make it easier for individual hotels to monitor their energy performance. In the area of “Waste”, Hilton launched RePurpose in 2013, a detailed waste management program. To support hotels, Hilton developed a comprehensive set of resources that enables hotels to set up a program, learn from best practices and track their results. Under “Water”, Hilton explains that 90 percent of its hotels now use water-efficient showerheads and 55 percent of hotels report planting native or drought-resistant landscaping.

Hilton also addresses its progress in “Responsible Sourcing”. Hilton partnered with Business for Social Responsibility to launch the Center for Sustainable Procurement (CSP) initiative to ultimately help hospitality industry procurement professionals make informed purchasing decisions based on the best available information. In 2013 the CSP released its first research findings. Hilton currently has over 40 hotels in 11 major cities participating in its local sourcing and education program.

Hilton's report is packed with additional information on its progress in the area of corporate citizenship. Be sure to check out Hilton's latest report.

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To Go or Not to Go Beyond Code Requirements for Energy Efficiency

by Glenn Hasek October 08, 2014 05:24

Not sure whether or not to go beyond code requirements for energy efficiency? A new database and software tools developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) can help you tally expected costs, kilowatts expended, carbon emissions and other impacts over a planned commercial building’s lifetime. Called BIRDS (Building Industry Reporting and Design for Sustainability), the new database and software tools are designed to assess three major determinants of building sustainability: energy, environmental and cost performance. NIST developed the database and tools for 11 building types, one of which is “hotels.” According to NIST, due to the complexity of a building and the hundreds or thousands of products that are required to construct and operate the structure, it is not feasible to use typical life-cycle assessment approaches.

Instead, BIRDS implements a hybrid life-cycle assessment (LCA) approach to evaluating the environmental performance of a building.

The new tool combines two separate LCA approaches—“top-down” environmental input-output data and “bottom-up” process-based data—to calculate a more accurate environmental impact. NIST’s aim is to make LCA and life-cycle costing—analytical methods now mostly plied by specialists—more accessible with hands-on tools anyone can use to answer “what if” questions when planning or designing a new hotel or other type of commercial structure.

One key question that users can tackle with BIRDS is whether exceeding the energy efficiency requirements of local building codes yields a positive result—as defined by each user. Operating energy use can be assessed for five increasingly more stringent building energy standards. Four are successive versions (1999, 2001, 2004 and 2007) of a commercial building energy standard issued by ASHRAE, a building technology standards organization. As of December 2011, 40 states had adopted one of the four as the basis for their energy code for commercial buildings.

BIRDS includes city-specific construction and energy costs and other local data, and allows users to home in on a particular city, state or climate zone, or they can broaden their perspective to a region or the entire nation. According to NIST, the new tools show how building to one or another energy standard affects everything from cost to water use to impact on air quality. Click here to check out BIRDS.

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Hospitality Industry Can Play Role in Stopping Wildlife Decline

by Glenn Hasek October 01, 2014 05:52

The news is alarming, to say the least, and the global tourism industry has got to do what it can to help reverse current trends. What I am referring to is the just released report that between 1950 and 2010, populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish around the globe dropped 52 percent. The 2014 Living Planet Report was produced by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). “There is a lot of data in this report and it can seem very overwhelming and complex,” said Jon Hoekstra, Chief Scientist at WWF. “What’s not complicated are the clear trends we’re seeing—39 percent of terrestrial wildlife gone, 39 percent of marine wildlife gone, 76 percent of fresh water wildlife gone—all in the past 40 years.” According to WWF, while high-income countries show a 10 percent increase in biodiversity, the rest of the world is seeing dramatic declines.

Middle-income countries show 18 percent declines, and low-income countries show 58 percent declines. Latin America shows the biggest decline in biodiversity, with species populations falling by 83 percent. “We’re gradually destroying our planet’s ability to support our way of life,” said Carter Roberts, President and CEO of WWF. “But we already have the knowledge and tools to avoid the worst predictions. We all live on a finite planet and it’s time we started acting within those limits.”

What can our industry do to help? Stopping development that either directly or indirectly reduces wildlife populations is, of course, a good first step but also important is supporting efforts in those areas most impacted. For Marriott, for example, 2013 marked the five-year anniversary of its partnership with the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS) and the State of Amazonas in Brazil. In 2008, Marriott pledged $2 million to help FAS protect 1.4 million acres of rainforest in the Juma Sustainable Development Reserve, while also helping to empower and educate the local community that acts as guardians of this rainforest.

Not buying products that have a connection with wildlife decimation is also key.

The 2014 Living Planet Report not only addresses the decline of wildlife populations; it also addresses climate change and pollution. Be sure to read this important report.

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Big Easy is Home to This Year’s Greenbuild Conference and Expo

by Glenn Hasek September 24, 2014 06:32

Will you be attending the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo this year? I highly recommend setting aside time in your schedule if you can. While the conference is certainly not angled toward hospitality, the bulk of the educational sessions and trade show exhibits apply to those interested in building and operating smart, green lodging establishments. This year’s event is in New Orleans from October 22 to 24. Hanley Wood and the U.S. Green Building Council just announced the speakers for the Opening Plenary. Taking place Wednesday, October 22 at the New Orleans Superdome, it will feature leading author and environmentalist Paul Hawken; investor, philanthropist, and advanced energy advocate Tom Steyer; and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. Hawken, Steyer and Governor O’Malley will take the stage to have a discussion about “the dollars and sense of climate change,” and its profound impact on families, communities, the economy and the planet.

The trio will examine the progress made and how much remains to be done to address climate change.

During the evening of October 22 the Greenbuild Celebration at the Superdome will feature the band Alabama Shakes and also New Orleans native Trombone Shorty and his ensemble Orleans Avenue. In addition to the Opening Plenary and Celebration, there will be many educational sessions, building tours, LEED workshops, and networking opportunities. Among the highlights of this year’s program will be the Greenbuild Master Series, which brings together leaders of diverse industries who share the common trait of championing sustainability and green building. The trade show floor will feature a Net Zero Zone where booths are fully powered by on-site alternate energy generation and distribution—Solar, Wind, Micro Turbine Generators, Kinetic and Fuel Cells. Greenbuild goers can also attend the Greenbuild Film Festival.

For more information on Greenbuild, click here.

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The Season for Sustainability Reports—A Peek at Wyndham’s

by Glenn Hasek September 17, 2014 06:23

This must be the season for the release of sustainability reports. Marriott International issued its 2014 Sustainability Report last month. Hyatt Hotels Corp. released its 2013-2014 Corporate Responsibility Report in the past few weeks. Last week Caesars Entertainment released its Corporate Citizenship Report and Wyndham Worldwide just released its 2013 Sustainability Responsibility Report. Articles about all but the Caesars report can be found on Green Lodging News. In this blog I would like to focus on Wyndham’s report. First off, the company’s Wyndham Green program is now in its eighth year. As has other companies, Wyndham has set 2020 goals for its operationally controlled assets. Using 2010 as a baseline, Wyndham intends to reduce its carbon emissions and water consumption per square foot by 20 percent by 2020. So far it has reduced water usage globally by 16 percent per square foot and carbon emissions by 13 percent per square foot when compared with the 2010 baseline.

The report, which aligns with G4 reporting guidelines established by the Global Reporting Initiative, covers all of Wyndham’s business units and outlines its People, Planet, Profits strategy. Highlighted in the report is progress made in the areas of Diversity, Human Rights, Wellness, Philanthropy, Ethics, Environment and Sustainability. Many interesting tidbits stood out for me in the report. For example, in 2013 Wyndham conducted Wyndham Green training and educational workshops for more than 4,000 hotel franchisees at its annual conference. In 2013 Wyndham presented its first Green Supplier of the Year award—to Ecolab. In 2013 a green certification program was implemented at all Wyndham Vacation Ownership properties. From 2007 to 2013, RCI North America, as part of the Wyndham Exchange and Rentals Business Unit, converted 58 percent of its direct mail circulation to e-mail—a carbon reduction of more than 552,000 pounds. Pretty impressive.

To read all about Wyndham’s progress in the area of corporate responsibility, click here.

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Swiss Company Catches My Attention with Launderable Mattress

by Glenn Hasek September 10, 2014 05:50

I often hear from folks representing startup companies. Sometimes the ideas they have are good ones but not practical. I recently received a press release about a toilet seat that includes a fan to help reduce the smell in a bathroom. The seat requires a connection to a hose leading to an outside area that can be vented. Would you buy these for your hotel? I also get pitches about products that just might make it in hospitality but are not green. One established company recently came out with a product in a fogging can that can be released in a guestroom that has an odor issue. The company says the product is non-toxic and safe for the environment. I put in a call to the company to see if it is safe to be in the room when the fogging is taking place. Nobody returned my call. That product, pitched as a green product, is supposedly being used in more than 300 hotels.

Fortunately, I occasionally hear from companies with great ideas that I am more than happy to share. SWISSFEEL AG has such an idea. Philipp Hangartner is with the company that has developed a whole bed system that is very sustainable. In fact, the mattress used in the system is made with a washable Swiss Mineral Foam. That’s right, the mattress is actually washable! Hangartner told me that about every 12 to 18 months the mattress can be washed to bring it back to a like-new condition, eliminating all of the sweat, dirt and who knows what else that accumulates in mattress over time. By being able to wash the mattress, one can of course extend its life significantly. The fabric covering the headboard and other parts of SWISSFEEL’s bed system can be removed for washing as well and can be designed to fit the décor of the guestroom.

Hangartner says his company already has hotel customers in Switzerland and Germany. SWISSFEEL would like to find a joint-venture partner in the United States. I know what you are thinking. How in the world do you wash a mattress? Hangartner says special machines are required and they would have to be operated by a company outside the hotel as the frequency of mattress washing would not justify the investment cost by an individual hotel.

It is clear that in order for SWISSFEEL’s idea to get off the ground it would need buy-in from multiple hotels so that there would be enough critical mass to justify the investment in the washer/extractor and dryer. Mostly, it would require a new way of thinking about how to provide a sustainable sleep experience for the guest—and how to allocate the cost of a bed system. What do you think? Is a washable bed system, including the mattress, a good idea? I would love to know your thoughts. Write to editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

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Highlights from Hyatt’s New Corporate Responsibility Report

by Glenn Hasek September 03, 2014 08:07

As you may have read on Green Lodging News, Hyatt Hotels Corp. just released its 2013-2014 Corporate Responsibility Report. The report details Hyatt’s new set of goals for 2020—goals extended from 2015 for reasons Hyatt explains in its report (portfolio changes, rapid growth in China and India, etc.). The following are just some of the highlights from the report. Moving forward, Hyatt will report its progress by region, instead of lumping all of its portfolio together. What was not reported in the press release about the new report is Hyatt’s energy and greenhouse gas emissions goals. Using 2006 as a base, hotels in Hyatt’s three regions will reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions per square meter by 25 percent by 2020. Each of the three regions will reduce water use per guest night by 25 percent compared to 2006. In water-stressed areas Hyatt will reduce water use per guest night by 30 percent.

Every managed hotel will recycle or otherwise divert the waste it sends to landfills by a minimum of 40 percent by 2020. Starting in 2015 Hyatt will consistently recycle or repurpose wall vinyl, carpet and carpet pads, case goods, bedframes and mattresses when managed hotels are renovated. Beginning in 2015, all new construction and major renovation projects for Hyatt’s wholly-owned full service hotels and resorts will be required to achieve LEED or an equivalent certification. (By mid-2014, 14 Hyatt properties were LEED certified, including Hyatt’s headquarters, which is in the LEED Platinum Certified Hyatt Center building).

By 2017, all of Hyatt’s major suppliers (by spend) will be required to have sustainability policies in place. By 2016, 100 percent of franchised hotels will track and report environmental performance data. These are just some of the highlights of the Environmental Stewardship section of Hyatt’s report. To access the entire report, click here.

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The Urban Heat Island Effect & Your Warming Hotel

by Glenn Hasek August 27, 2014 05:31

If you operate or plan to operate a hotel in an urban center, you would be wise to understand the urban heat island effect and its relationship to climate change. According to Climate Central, urban areas can be significantly hotter than areas outside of the city and climate change is making that difference in temperature more dramatic. Climate Central says summers in the United States have been warming since 1970. But on average across the United States cities are even hotter, and have been getting hotter faster than adjacent rural areas. Single-day urban temperatures in some metro areas can be as much as 27°F higher than the surrounding rural areas. The top 10 cities with the most intense summer urban heat islands (average daily urban-rural temperature differences) over the past 10 years are: Las Vegas (7.3°F); Albuquerque (5.9°F); Denver (4.9°F); Portland, Ore. (4.8°F); Louisville (4.8°F); Washington, D.C. (4.7°F); Kansas City (4.6°F); Columbus (4.4°F); Minneapolis (4.3°F); and Seattle (4.1°F).

Climate Central says urban heat islands are even more intense at night. Over the past 10 years, average summer overnight temperatures were more than 4°F hotter in U.S. cities than surrounding rural areas. Hotel owners with hotels in strongly impacted urban areas can help reduce the heat island effect by implementing white or green roofs, planting trees, and utilizing alternative materials that do not hold heat. Hotels in highly impacted areas can expect to incur higher costs for cooling, making the implementation of highly efficient cooling systems critical, along with guestroom energy management systems. Window film can help reduce cooling costs. So too can properly implemented curtains and shades.

Hotels in areas with a strong urban heat island effect tend to be in areas with high levels of air pollution, negatively impacting guests and employees.

To read the entire Climate Central report, click here.

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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.