Hyatt Packages Corporate Responsibility Progress Into New Report

7/13/2012 By Glenn Hasek

Late last month, during its official month of community service, Hyatt Hotels Corp. released its inaugural Corporate Responsibility Report. The report details the progress of Hyatt Thrive, the corporate responsibility platform that Hyatt launched last year. Prior to Hyatt Thrive, says Brigitta Witt, vice president corporate responsibility for Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, “We did not have a platform that we could roll up all of our initiatives in to.”

Hyatt Thrive focuses on four areas: environmental sustainability, education and personal advancement, health and wellness, and economic development and investment. Hyatt’s more than 90,000 associates have been charged with carrying out the company’s Hyatt Thrive initiatives—certainly no small task.

I spoke with Brigitta about what I saw as the highlights of the report in the area of environmental sustainability. First of all, Hyatt has been tracking its utility data for more than just one year. The baseline year for its energy, water and greenhouse gas emissions is 2006; for its waste the baseline year is 2010.

Each Hotel Has Its Own Targets

In its report, Hyatt says it has reduced its energy consumption per square meter, in its full-service owned and managed hotels, by 9 percent from 2006 to 2011. Brigitta says that every hotel has its own targets for reductions. Energy audits have been conducted to identify opportunities beyond the “low hanging fruit.”

Greenhouse gas emissions per square meter have been reduced by 10 percent and water consumption by 7 percent per guest night. Waste sent to landfills per guest night has been reduced by 3 percent. Hyatt monitors its progress with Hyatt EcoTrack, a web-based tracking tool that gathers monthly data from properties.

Key to Hyatt’s success is the training of its employees. Since 2009, more than 35,000 associates have participated in Hyatt Earth Training. Much of the training is conducted by the green teams at the hotels. Brigitta says associates participate in a highly interactive program that asks them to do “treasure hunts”—missions to identify savings opportunities.

Sustainable Design Guidelines Established

Sustainable Design Guidelines have been established for the construction of new hotels and the renovation of existing hotels. These touch on everything from siting to fixtures to landscaping, Brigitta says. “We believe we have a strong opportunity to have sustainable features from the start,” she says, adding that Hyatt is increasingly considering renewable energy for its hotels.

I asked Brigitta about Hyatt’s Corporate Responsibility Council and she said having one is a natural evolution in the company’s strategy to make responsible business practices a part of how they operate every day. The Council, which includes representation from every department, establishes goals and is accountable for reaching those goals.

Moving forward in the second half of this year, Brigitta told me Hyatt will be launching a human trafficking training program to help associates understand what human trafficking is. Select service brands will be implementing their own utility management system, and Hyatt will also be working on its Global Supplier Codes of Conduct.

To access Hyatt’s Corporate Responsibility Report, click here.

Reclaimed Wood Part Two

In last week’s column I wrote about the use of reclaimed wood in hotel projects. Thank you to Tom Rhodes, NC GreenTravel Initiative Program Coordinator, for sharing this link with me. Thank you also to Tom Merten at the Jenks House Bed and Breakfast in Jacksonville, Fla., for sharing about the ways he has used reclaimed lumber at his property over the years. “Close to 15 years ago, way before we became a B&B, a neighborhood bank was remodeling and threw out their original walnut teller booths. I literally pulled some of them out of a roll off dumpster. My father-in-law and I turned them into base cabinets. The old cash drawers now hold knives and other cooking equipment. Under the drawers are two shelves, original to the booths, but now holding pots, pans, etc. I disassembled one of the booths and used the wood to make panels for the sides of our under the counter commercial dishwasher. My father-in-law estimated that the value of the walnut alone was around $2k and that was about 15 years ago,” Merten said in his e-mail to me.

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