Part two of this blog focuses on the observed sustainability initiatives at a few US/international chains of hotels. I chose some based on their creativity and others because they are familiar chains and it would be good to know their stance on ‘going green’:
- Since 2006, Four Seasons Hotel, Philadelphia has successfully reduced its landfill waste by 47% by recycling more than 100,000 pounds of material. It also recycles its used cooking oil and organic waste for conversion into bio-fuel. The kitchen scraps get converted into compost and purchased back by the hotel to be used as fertilizer.
- Marriott, the hospitality giant has also made some good strides in going green. In the past Marriott has won the EPA’s Sustained Excellence award. Something interesting they offer relates to carbon footprints: besides calculating their own carbon footprint from hotel activities, they also offer their guests an opportunity to purchase carbon offsets.
- Kimpton Hotels, smaller US based chain has their rooms optimized for energy and water conservation and boast of restaurants with locally sourced food and beverages. They also feature an on-site organic garden in most of their locations.
- Starwood, a relatively newer chain, was the first chain to attempt getting LEED certification for all of their hotels. Their Westin brand offers 100% recycled carpeting, eco-friendly cleaners and recycling bins in all rooms and all their appliances are Energy Star certified. In addition, Starwood Group has quite a few innovative programs in place such as ‘Hotel of the Future’ which provides a framework to build the world’s most resilient best-in-class properties and ‘Make a Green Choice (MAGC)’ that incentivizes guests to reduce their own environmental footprint by foregoing full housekeeping for up to three days in a row for a small spending voucher. This resulted in total savings per night of 50 gallons of water, 0.02 kWh of electricity, and 7oz. of cleaning product chemicals (numbers vary by region).
- The Fairmont, a high end Canada based luxury chain, has a Green Partnership Program in which guests can focus on energy and water conservation, waste management, and responsible purchasing. Their Climate Change Strategy contains activity packages that help raise happy planet awareness. I must admit staying at a Fairmont annually is the one luxury I indulge in and so far every Fairmont I have stayed in has been very consistent in their sustainability efforts-be it offering recycling in the room or chemical free toiletries or options to skip daily towel and sheet changes.
- Moving on to Europe, Ritz Carlton, Berlin was the first five-star hotel in Europe to be certified for its environmental performance. Its sustainability efforts include initiatives such as staff action teams and setting up beehives. Besides working in a completely paperless environment, the hotel transfers paper waste into new school notebooks. Every three months they have enough paper waste to create more than 1,300 new notebooks.
In the end the conclusion I came to was two fold. 1. Numerous advances have been made in incorporating sustainability into the various hospitality businesses. 2. However, sustainability efforts are not equally adopted by all the hotels in a group, nor are they seldom part of an overall corporate sustainability strategy. Hotels would immensely benefit from incorporating sustainability throughout by focusing their efforts on the core areas of Energy & Water Conservation, Green Building, Recycling & Waste Management, Sustainable Supply Chain, and lastly Outreach & Education (in order to make environmental awareness a part of the corporate culture.) So, next time we stay at a hotel, let’s try looking out for what’s working well or not and do something about it (complaint or hopefully compliment)?