Let's Wait Before Labeling Millennials the Eco-Generation

by Glenn Hasek November 26, 2014 06:12

Let’s await a little longer before labeling millennials (those 18 to 34) the eco-generation. I say that based on the results of a recent survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries. The survey, conducted this month of more than 2,000 U.S. adults, found that millennials are significantly less likely to say they recycle (33 percent) than those 35 and over (48 percent). The survey also found that a majority (68 percent) of Americans believe recycling is the right thing to do, but the percentage decreases as age goes down, with only 62 percent of adults 18 to 34 holding the belief compared to 78 percent of adults ages 65 and over. More than half of Americans say recycling is the socially responsible thing to do (55 percent), but older adults ages 65 and over are more likely than those ages 18 to 34 to believe this (61 percent versus 53 percent, respectively).

Forty percent of Americans believe recycling is critical to reduce energy consumption, but older adults ages 65 and over are more likely than those ages 18 to 34 to say this (46 percent versus 36 percent, respectively). Younger Americans ages 18 to 34 (33 percent) are more likely than those ages 35 to 64 (22 percent) to say they are not always certain if an item is recyclable. Younger adults ages 18 to 34 are also more likely to say they wish they recycled more than any other age group (37 percent versus 22 percent of those age 35 and over).

In other words, millennials are more often recycler wannabes and often less educated and wise about recycling than older generations. How do you get millennials staying at your property to participate in recycling? Perhaps you have to hit them over the head a bit with messaging they understand—communication from peers they look up to and can relate to. Make recycling a fun process and educational at the same time. Your thoughts? I can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

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Study Shows Best Way to Engage Employees in Energy Conservation

by Glenn Hasek November 19, 2014 05:19

A recent Carnegie Mellon University study of PNC Financial Services Group employees provides some fascinating insight into how best to engage employees in energy efficiency measures. In December 2013, PNC installed Plugwise meters, which measure plug load, or the energy drawn by devices from an electrical outlet, at 80 Pittsburgh employees’ workstations. These 80 employees were divided into four groups, each of which received a different amount of information and control. The first group knew they were being monitored but received no information about their energy consumption. The second group received information through an energy dashboard that collected and displayed plug-load data in real time. The third group also had access to the dashboard and could manually turn on and off specific devices through the use of a switchboard. The fourth group had access to the dashboard and could automate when specific devices turned on and off.

After monitoring the data from the 80 employees for six months, PNC found that group one reduced overall energy consumption by 7 percent, group two reduced overall energy consumption by 13 percent group three reduced overall energy consumption by 25 percent, and group four reduced overall energy consumption by 38 percent. Further, energy consumption among group four increased by only four percent after the dashboards and automated controls were removed. These results demonstrate that knowledge and control have a long-term influence on energy use.

Where might this approach apply in a hotel environment? An office area certainly would work but perhaps an area such as a kitchen as well? A kitchen, especially a busy one, has many devices drawing power at any given time. If employees know exactly how much power, and are empowered and reminded to turn items on and off at appropriate times, or empowered to automate the process, it could have a huge impact on energy efficiency. Incentives could even further inspire employees to participate in conservation.

Do you go so far as to show guests how much energy they are using? I am not so sure but I could be convinced otherwise. Perhaps a guest could receive some type of rebate or discount if he keeps his energy consumption under a certain level? That would take a lot of metering to figure out.

Back to PNC: They plan to roll out plug-load meters and provide employees with access to dashboards and automated control across all of its U.S. branches and office buildings in 2015.

Your thoughts? I can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

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Wall Gardens Prominent at IHMRS, BDNY

by Glenn Hasek November 12, 2014 05:35

For more times than I can remember, I have been a judge in the International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show’s (IHMRS) Editors’ Choice Awards competition. A number of years ago the managers of the show added a green category to the competition—a great idea, of course. While sifting through the entries I get to learn about a lot of new green products and technologies. Some are borderline green while others have the potential to have a significant positive environmental impact on our industry. This year the award winner in the green category was EcoWalls’ Chef’s EcoWall Garden. The garden allows chefs to grow herbs and fresh greens on the walls of their kitchen. The garden can also be placed in other spaces—in a prominent spot in a restaurant, for example. The growing system utilizes hydroponics technology; plants are not grown in soil but in another inorganic growth medium that maintains the optimum balance of water to oxygen. The garden’s innovative design incorporates lighting, irrigation and planting trays into one neat and compact package.

EcoWalls incorporates post-consumer recycled materials into its product and its wall panels are 100 percent recyclable. For those not interested in a fixed wall installation, EcoWalls also offers a Chef’s Mobile Wall Garden—a garden on wheels.

What EcoWalls is doing is quite unique because it offers the opportunity to marry F&B and design while significantly reducing the carbon footprint (food miles) of a portion of the purchased herbs and vegetables.

Interestingly, at Boutique Design New York (BDNY), located right next to IHMRS, a company called Garden on the Wall introduced its preserved wall garden concept. Natural plants, preserved by the use of an eco-friendly process, are creatively positioned on vertical walls. The plants require no watering or misting, no light, no soil, and no trimming or pruning.

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Will New IAQ Monitoring Device Be a Game Changer?

by Glenn Hasek November 05, 2014 06:08

One of the speakers at last week’s Lodging Green & Sustainability Conference + Expo mentioned a new product in development that will enable a hotel guest, or anyone for that matter, to test many attributes of the air quality of a particular space. I highly recommend taking a look at the product called “alima.” Click here to check it out. (The company is not a Green Lodging News advertiser.) Will it be a game changer? Time will tell. What alima consists of is a device with a group of sensors that check for the following: volatile organic compounds, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide levels, particulate matter, temperature and humidity. An alima app will enable one to monitor indoor air quality (IAQ) for a space remotely. Alerts can be sent by e-mail and software can even help one predict and address IAQ issues. Indoor spaces are up to eight times more polluted than outdoor spaces so having a monitoring device available is important—especially for those travelers with respiratory issues or chemical sensitivities.

For a hotel operator, alima can prompt alerts about items that are offgassing or alert one about other issues impacting guest or employee health: dust or other particulates in the air, HVAC irregularities, etc.

A product like alima can present many challenges for a hotel operator. First off, you will need to become quite familiar with IAQ standards in order to have an intelligent conversation with someone packing an alima. Also, you will need to be able to respond to a guest who can prove to you that your IAQ in Room 309 is terrible. What will you do? And, expect remarks about your property’s IAQ to begin showing up on TripAdvisor and other travel sites.

Assuming alima is highly accurate and works well, it could become yet another tool to take along while traveling. And perhaps it is a type of guestroom or meeting space amenity to provide in an upscale property. My opinion is that anything that can be done to improve IAQ is a great idea. For far too long the bulk of our industry has paid too little attention to it. According to the alima website, one alima device can be bought for about $210. Jacques Touillon, CEO of alima, informed me that his company is shooting for a December 2014 launch.

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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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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.