Hotel Sustainability Benchmarking Index Continues Growth

by Glenn Hasek July 27, 2016 05:11

It is an old management adage still true today: “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Fortunately, the lodging industry is getting better all of the time at managing its environmental impact. One sure proof of this is the just-released “Hotel Sustainability Benchmarking Index 2016: Energy, Water, and Carbon.” The report was produced by Cornell’s Center for Hospitality Research. Eric Ricaurte, Founder & CEO of Greenview, was the lead researcher and compiled 2014 data from 11 global hotel firms. I spoke with Ricaurte and he told me the data set grew by 40 percent—from 3,250 properties to 4,457 properties since last year’s report. “We are showing more granularity and improvement every year,” Ricaurte said. This is the third year for the study. In the first year the database included utility information from about 2,000 hotels.

Unique to this year’s Index is the ability to sort by climate zones (Tropical, Tropical Monsoon, etc.) and hotel type (Luxury, Urban, etc).

The improvement in data collection from year to year is a boon for the Hotel Footprinting Tool, a tool that relies on Index data. The Hotel Footprinting Tool was launched last October by the International Tourism Partnership and Greenview. The Index is perfect for anyone interested in benchmarking their own property against other properties in a market segment. Destinations or even countries can also compare their performance against others.

Interestingly, Ricaurte told me data in the Index show hotels across the board in Asia to be less efficient than those in other parts of the world. “The general usage of water and energy is higher,” Ricaurte said.

Ricaurte invites hotel companies to participate in the 2017 edition of the Cornell Hotel Sustainability Benchmarking Index, which has now begun collecting 2015 data sets for carbon emissions, energy use, and water use.


NSF 444 Standard Will Help Prevent Legionella Outbreaks

by Glenn Hasek July 20, 2016 04:50

Legionellosis is a respiratory disease caused by Legionella bacteria. Sometimes the bacteria cause a serious type of pneumonia (lung infection) called Legionnaires’ disease. The bacteria can also cause a less serious infection called Pontiac fever that has symptoms similar to a mild case of the flu. Unfortunately, Legionella bacteria make frequent appearances in hotels. Legionella was discovered after an outbreak in 1976 among people who went to a Philadelphia convention of the American Legion. The convention took place at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel and 34 people died. Last year there was an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease in New York City that left 12 dead and more than 100 infected. Part of the outbreak traced back to a hotel and there was a cooling tower connection. The CDC estimates that between 8,000 and 18,000 people are hospitalized with Legionnaires’ disease in the United States each year, with more than 4,500 cases reported in 2014.

To address concerns about legionellosis, global public health organization NSF International and ASHRAE have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to jointly develop NSF 444: Prevention of Injury and Disease Associated with Building Water Systems. Water quality often degrades once water enters buildings, and it could expose occupants to hazards such as microbial pathogens, toxic chemicals and physical hazards. NSF 444 seeks to provide a methodology for the systematic analysis of building water systems and the application of control measures necessary to prevent harm and to maintain public health.

“The development of NSF 444 and this MOU with ASHRAE represent NSF International’s commitment to helping assure water quality in areas that impact human health,” said Jessica Evans, Director of Standards at NSF International. “NSF 444 is the first NSF standard to address building water quality and our working relationship with ASHRAE will help us contribute expertise to this important area of the water quality industry.”

U.S. public health and environmental organizations at the state and federal levels, members of ASHRAE, private healthcare systems, academia and those in the water industry are participating on the joint committee to develop the standard. The standard is expected to be released in 2017.

Continue to watch Green Lodging News for updates on NSF 444.


National Park Service About to Turn 100 Years Old

by Glenn Hasek July 13, 2016 05:21

The 100th birthday of the National Park Service is just a little more than one month away—August 25. The anniversary will be marked in many ways this year at the parks and by businesses that support and benefit from the parks. Our industry benefits greatly from these parks. It is difficult to even imagine how many room nights each year are attributable to the parks. The National Park Service was created by an act signed by President Woodrow Wilson on August 25, 1916. The system includes 412 areas covering more than 84 million acres in every state, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. These areas include national parks, monuments, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, historic sites, lakeshores, seashores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails, and the White House. The total recreation visitors to the national parks in 2015: an impressive 307,247,252.

The most visited place in the National Park System in 2015 was the Blue Ridge Parkway with more than 15 million visitors. The second most visited: the Golden Gate National Recreation Area with almost 15 million visitors.

If your property benefits in any way from visitors to the parks, or even if it does not, find a way to support the National Park Service in 2016 and beyond. One example of a group of hotels doing its part is the 14 Hilton Worldwide hotels in and around Washington, D.C. They are offering a “Find Your Park DC Package and inviting guests to explore the National Mall and Memorial Parks. The package includes a house-made granola snack pack, two bottles of water, two pairs of gardening gloves, tote bag, Junior Ranger activity guide and opportunity to earn a Junior Ranger Badge. From now through September 6, 2016, for every Find Your Park Package room night booked and stayed, participating Hilton Worldwide hotels in the Washington, D.C. area will make a donation of $5 to the National Mall & Memorial Parks, up to $20,000. On August 25, hotel guests are being invited to join hotel team members at National Mall and Memorial Parks from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for a community service and beautification project. Guests are encouraged to find inspiration and share their memories on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with #FindYourPark and #FindYourParkDC.


MGM Resorts, Caesars Represent Hospitality on Civic 50 List

by Glenn Hasek June 29, 2016 05:18

On Tuesday of this week, Points of Light, the largest organization in the world dedicated to volunteer service, recognized its 2016 Civic 50 winners at the Conference on Volunteering and Service in Detroit. Only two hospitality companies made the 2016 Civic 50 list: MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corp. MGM and Caesars joined companies such as the Ford Motor Co. and General Mills. Not every company is eligible for the Civic 50. A company must have $1 billion or above in annual revenue. The Civic 50 is based on the results of a survey that focuses on four dimensions of a company’s U.S. community engagement program: investment (time, money, etc.), integration (how a company “does well by doing good”), institutionalization (institutional policies, systems, and incentives), and impact (how company measures its impact). Survey submissions were judged by a panel of nine. Both MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment issued press releases to highlight their inclusion on the Civic 50.

“We are extremely honored to be recognized among the Civic 50,” said Phyllis A. James, Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity and Corporate Responsibility Officer for MGM Resorts. “Our communities provide the critical framework for our business operations and the social infrastructure for our employees. For us, financial donations and volunteer service to our communities are not only a moral obligation that our company and our employees share, but also a vital part of our business imperatives.” MGM Resorts has a long history of supporting the communities in which it operates. Since 2002, MGM Resorts employees have raised more than $65 million and supported thousands of charitable organizations through the MGM Resorts Foundation. In 2015, MGM Resorts’ employees volunteered over 157,851 hours with nonprofit organizations and agencies. Jan Jones Blackhurst, Executive Vice President of Government Relations and Corporate Responsibility for Caesars Entertainment said, “The Civic 50 recognizes Caesars Entertainment’s broad-based commitment to corporate responsibility, including our environmental concern, economic development and volunteerism, employee well-being, and ethical business conduct. We are humbled to be in such remarkable company, and grateful for the recognition of our positive business and societal impact.” The Caesars Foundation has donated more than $70 million to local nonprofits and through the company’s HERO employee engagement initiative employees volunteer more than 200,000 hours each year.

For more information on the Civic 50, click here.


Results from Role of Sustainability in Travel & Tourism Report

by Glenn Hasek June 23, 2016 04:37

Mandala Research and Sustainable Travel International recently released the results of their 2016 Role of Sustainability in Travel & Tourism report. The findings are based on a survey of 2,292 leisure travelers. A lead sponsor of the study was Visit California. Additional sponsors included Travel Oregon, G Adventures, Destination Better, Shop America Alliance, Louisiana Tax Free Shopping, and Wild Rivers Coast Alliance. According to the report, 60 percent of U.S. travelers (105.3 million) have taken a sustainable trip in the last three years. They spend more (on average $600 per trip), stay longer (seven days compared to four days) and bring higher benefits to local communities including job creation, giving-back and volunteering. More than half (53 percent) of sustainable travelers report that sustainable practices at the destination were a driver of destination choice, either being the “key factor in their decision” to visit the destination (28 percent) or helping them choose between destinations (25 percent), (compared to only eight percent of all other travelers.)

Sixty-three percent of all travelers say they are much more likely to consider destinations where there is a strong effort to conserve and protect natural resources. The number jumps to 75 percent among sustainable travelers. Travelers feel a great deal of responsibility for ensuring their trip has a positive impact on the place they visit, 63 percent; 64 percent believe that responsibility also rests with local government. More than 60 percent of all travelers feel strongly about their obligation to leave an area the same or better than they found it. More than two-fifths of sustainable travelers say they have purchased from travel companies because they believe they offer fair wages to their employees and invest in employees. Thirty-eight percent say they have done business with travel companies who have helped to reduce human trafficking. The 2016 Role of Sustainability in Travel & Tourism report included 40 questions. To access the entire report, click here.


New Jersey Winding Down Garden State Green Hotels Project

by Glenn Hasek June 15, 2016 05:56

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is winding down its Garden State Green Hotels Project. At the same time, the Travel Green New Jersey website is on schedule for updating with green lodging establishments that are located in New Jersey. So says Ky Asral, Manager, Small Business Environmental Assistance Program at New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection. Asral has been managing the Garden State Green Hotels Project that has provided 120 hotels in New Jersey with on-site assistance in four areas: the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, reduction of use of hazardous material, reduction of use of water and other natural resources, and the reduction of solid waste. Asral told me that 120 hotels have been visited and now are being evaluated to see what progress they have made. Even when the Garden State Green Hotels Project closes, Asral says the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection will continue to provide assistance to hotels interested in reducing their environmental impact. So far, the Travel Green New Jersey website has not included a list of green lodging establishments in the Garden State.

Asral says that should change by the end of the summer. Properties with green certifications will be listed along with the certifications they have. “Somebody looking at staying at a green hotel could look at a map on the site,” Asral says. “We want the information at somebody’s fingertips.” New Jersey is one of many states that have some type of state level green lodging recognition program.


More on Our First Annual Green Lodging Survey

by Glenn Hasek June 08, 2016 08:18

To what degree does climate change drive you to make operational improvements and investments? Do you provide preferred parking locations for guests and staff driving fuel efficient vehicles (hybrids, electric vehicles)? Do bathroom fans include humidity sensors to shut them off when no longer needed? These are just a few examples of questions included in the Green Lodging Survey that just went “live” today and that will close on August 31. Green Lodging News partnered with Greenview to produce the survey. There are 108 questions to complete. Some of the questions require simply a yes or no answer. Others require you to write an answer. Some of the questions require checking a box. If you own or operate a lodging establishment, please take the time to complete the survey. After the survey closes, a Trends Report will be produced that will analyze the results with general trends and highlight exemplary practices and innovations that stand out. Survey participants will receive a compare report confidential to each participant, to serve as a yardstick for a property to understand the status of each specific practice within the general participant universe.

If, while going through the survey you think of a question that should have been asked this year but was not, write it down and send it to me. Likewise, if you see a question that you believe should not be in the survey, let me know. Of course you should explain why. We want this survey to be a collaboration and a document that gets better over time.

In addition to completing the survey, please be sure to support our sponsors: The Arbor Day Foundation, Aquawing Ozone Laundry Systems, reCollect2 Co., and Pineapple Hospitality. And finally, if you are interested in sponsoring the survey, there are opportunities at four levels—Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze. For sponsorship information, click here. You may also contact me, Glenn Hasek, Publisher & Editor of Green Lodging News, at (813) 510-3868, or by e-mail at For technical assistance with the survey, contact Eric Ricaurte, Founder & CEO, Greenview, at (202) 470-1094, or


Xeros Survey Gauges ‘Why Towels Matter’

by Glenn Hasek June 02, 2016 05:54

Along with the mattress and pillow, the towel has got to rank as one of the top few guestroom items impacting the guest experience. In my travels I have experienced many hotel towels that were anything but fluffy or that had an unpleasant odor from the laundering process. I suspect you have experienced the same. Xeros, maker of a laundry system that replaces up to 80 percent of the water with polymer beads, just released the results of its survey entitled, “Why Towels Matter: The Surprising Role that Towels Play in a Hotel’s Success.” The survey had an impressive 1,160 responses from business and vacation travelers in the United States and the United Kingdom. The study revealed that 94 percent of all respondents believe that the quality of towels is important for overall customer satisfaction. In addition, the survey found that 73 percent of the survey respondents believe that the quality of towels will influence their decision to return to a hotel brand for future visits, while 84 percent believe towel quality influences brand perception.

When asked about towel attributes, cleanliness was identified as the most important attribute followed by softness. Surprisingly, high thread counts, the attribute that is generally associated with expensive luxury towels, came in last. The study found that 77 percent of travelers usually or always reference online reviews before selecting a hotel. One-third of the respondents said that they would write a negative review on an online site if they were not satisfied with the towels. And 52 of the respondents said that they have already written a negative review due to poor towel quality. Eighty-five percent of respondents reuse towels because they are concerned about the environment and 77 percent of people said that when choosing a hotel they actively search for places that have eco-friendly laundry facilities. Interestingly, the survey found that 31 percent of respondents think washing laundry on premise versus sending it out to a third-party vendor results in cleaner towels.

To access a report summarizing the survey findings, click here.


MACH Energy Survey: Most Industry Professionals Spend Little Time Each Month on Energy, Water

by Glenn Hasek May 25, 2016 05:59

Few, if any, suppliers have conducted large-scale surveys of hoteliers to better understand their energy and water management efforts. MACH Energy, a provider of energy and water management software services and solutions, recently conducted a survey that reached out to more than 5,000 industry professionals. Wei-En Tan, Ph.D., Vice President of Research at MACH Energy, told me there were about 1,000 respondents but only about 300 that completed all of the survey. The survey is available for downloading. Be sure to check it out. There were a number of interesting findings detailed in the survey report. For example, while 61 percent of respondents reported their hotels ran a sustainability program, the success of these programs remained unclear. In fact, 42 percent of those with programs did not know if their program was achieving savings. Tan told me that in some hotels the idea of a sustainability program is a linen/towel reuse program. If that is the case, many are not even measuring the positive impact of not having to wash linens and towels.

Twenty-nine percent of respondents said they did not have a sustainability program, and another 7 percent were unaware if a program existed. Among respondents who had implemented energy and water efficiency and sustainability measures, 80 percent listed cost reduction as their primary motivator, followed by interests or requirements of guests (39 percent) and Energy Star scores or LEED requirements (30 percent). Jon Moeller, CEO of MACH Energy, told me that while 92 percent of respondents knew the general sizes of their common areas, 30 percent did not know the utility costs tied to the common areas, showing areas for improvement in reducing usage. As many have said, you cannot monitor what you do not measure.

Thirty percent of respondents reported that their hotels used energy management software (EMS), and 65 percent reported that their hotels had no EMS. Among the respondents whose hotels reportedly had EMS, 68 percent were actually confusing EMS with a building automation system or some other product. Truth be told, when I see “EMS”, I think “Energy Management System.” It is easy to see how folks can get confused by acronyms. “There seems to be a great opportunity to introduce a better understanding of EMS to the lodging industry,” the survey said.

Granted, the 2016 Hotel Industry Survey: Energy and Water Management Best Practices was created in part to serve the interests of MACH Energy. That said, it did unveil some fascinating—or, maybe concerning—findings. For example, for the surveyed hotel professionals, energy (or water) management activities did not occupy a great portion of their time. Fifty-eight percent of respondents spent just two hours or less a month on them.


E.ON Survey Offers Glimpse at How Travelers Perceive Green Hotel Practices

by Glenn Hasek May 18, 2016 04:32

E.ON, one of the United Kingdom’s leading power and gas companies, last week released the results of its survey of 2,000 travelers. The survey primarily focused on traveler attitudes toward green hotel practices. According to the survey results, one-third of guests say hotels and B&Bs should be judged on sustainability, with an accreditation system similar to food and service quality. One in five people would be more likely to stay in or recommend a B&B or boutique hotel if it used renewable energy sources. Similar numbers would be swayed by knowing the hotel used energy efficient measures such as low energy lighting (17 percent). Half of guests say that the sustainability and energy use of a hotel is important to them. One in 10 want their accommodation to have smart thermostats in the room so they can monitor their energy usage, while a similar number want a recycled water system. The research also found that half of hotel guests would be willing to be an “eco-customer” if they got a 10 percent discount for adopting environmentally friendly behaviors such as using a single towel during their stay, having their lights and electricity on stand-by, and limiting hot water use.

With one-third of survey respondents admitting to using more energy at hotels than they would at home, hotels may need to think about how to incentivize their guests to keep their energy use down, as well as ensuring their own energy systems are as efficient as possible. The survey says that most hospitality businesses refurbish every seven to 10 years and this provides a significant opportunity to respond to changing guest preferences as well as adapt for energy savings. According to the Carbon Trust, some hospitality businesses have seen energy costs reduced by as much as 40 percent thanks to steps taken during refurbishment. E.ON has developed an online Energy Toolkit which helps businesses of all sizes track and adapt their energy use through reports and alerts.


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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 or by phone at (813) 510-3868.