Green Steps Add Up to Sizeable Savings at La Costa Resort

10/6/2010 By Glenn Hasek

CARLSBAD, CALIF.—The La Costa Resort and Spa, a 400-acre property located near the beach in Carlsbad, Calif., has reduced its kitchen food waste volume by a factor of almost five times thanks to two industrial compost machines that rely on heat and agitation. According to Sam Bumgarner, purchasing director for the property, the machines, which each handle 250 pounds of food waste per day, are located in two different kitchens and compost 182,000 pounds of food scraps annually. Each day, approximately 40 pounds of compost is produced and given to the groundskeeping team to use around the property.

"It sends the proper message to the community and our guests that we are willing to walk the talk of sustainability and be more environmentally friendly," says Denise Chapman, director of marketing at the resort.

The compost machines are part of a much larger effort to reduce waste at the 610-room resort. From January through July of this year, 80,000 pounds of cardboard was recycled and 122,000 pounds of commingled materials was also recycled. The total savings for La Costa Resort and Spa during that time: $30,000. The commingled materials and cardboard are all reduced in volume prior to pickup thanks to compactors. A baler will soon be purchased to manage the shrink wrap that surrounds packages. Recycling is a program the resort had to have to qualify for Green Seal Bronze certification, a goal the property reached a few months ago. Of all of the green initiatives at the La Costa Resort and Spa, recycling has required the biggest culture change, Bumgarner says.

Energy, Water Reductions

In addition to its waste-reducing accomplishments, the La Costa Resort and Spa has also made headway in cutting its electricity, gas and water consumption. In 2009 La Costa’s electricity consumption was down 2.1 percent from 2008 and 11.7 percent from 2007, Gas consumption was down 7 percent from 2008 and 13.4 percent from 2007, water consumption (golf gallons) was down 11.3 percent from 2008 and 12.1 percent from 2007, and water consumption (resort gallons) was down 8.3 percent from 2008 and 34.6 percent from 2007.

Dennis Kinsley, engineering director at the resort, says digital thermostats in guestrooms, a computerized energy management system for public spaces and meeting rooms, and lighting retrofits have all contributed to a reduction in energy usage. As part of a test program with its local utility, the utility remotely monitors the fire time on the boilers used at the resort. The utility can optimize the firing times.

“We’ve converted over to CFLs in all guestrooms and public areas where we can make it work,” he says. “We have also put in hundreds of LEDs—MR-16s, Par30s and Par38s.”

To minimize the resort’s water impact, it uses 2.2 gpm faucets and aerators, 1.6 gpf toilets and 2.5 gpm showerheads. Plants and trees tolerant to local conditions and natural water availability are planted. Reclaimed water is used to help keep the resort’s two 18-hole golf courses green. The resort has been experimenting with a drip irrigation system and its off-site laundry reclaims 50 to 80 percent of the water it uses. One of the resort’s goals is to reduce the amount of turf on its golf courses to further reduce water demand.

At the point of purchasing, La Costa Resort and Spa is also working to reduce its carbon footprint. All major suppliers much have a sustainability policy of their own. Suppliers that take back pallets and packaging are preferred. When responding to requests for proposal for meetings, the resort’s meetings team is prepared to meet planners’ requests—whether they include water dispensers, recycling containers, minimizing disposable foodservice items, etc.

Additional Green Initiatives

• Employees set printer/copier default on double-sided and avoid single-use products, purchase in bulk, and use concentrated cleaning products.
• Leftover food is donated.
• The resort has installed Web-based computerized controls on pool and spa heaters to minimize gas use.
• All golf course equipment uses only biodegradable oil.
• In addition to Green Seal certification, another recent honor for La Costa Resort and Spa is being named Energy Champion of the Year by San Diego Gas & Electric.

Glenn Hasek can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.


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