Move Over Orange - Green is the New Black
March 30, 2015 | sponsored by Dial
Following a green path for the past 14 years, the 61-room Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth, Maine has dozens of environmentally-friendly initiatives in place to minimize the impact of hotel and restaurant operations on its coastal surroundings. Composting food waste, using recycled sheetrock walls and bamboo towels in the spa, and a solar-heated pool is just a sample of what defines the hotel’s unique approach to hospitality.
“Consideration for people, planet and profit is the smart business choice,” said Jim Glanville, General Manager, Inn by the Sea. “Not only do we realize savings with green hotel operations, but working with locals to preserve Maine's pristine environment and traditions is vital to tourism. After all, our natural landscape, clean beaches and fishing tradition create the magnate that draws visitors to the state.”
The relevance of being green in hospitality is growing – managing an environmentally-friendly property allows hoteliers to save green while proudly introducing and implementing green practices to save water, conserve energy, and reduce waste, with the added benefit of decreasing overall operating costs. And, the significant savings yielded can be applied to enriching the quality of your guests’ hotel experience.
Running a hotel is a 24/7 business so there are countless eco-conscious measures that can be instituted in a guest room and property-wide to deliver a tangible, positive impact to your bottom line. What started with hotels offering guests the option not to have their towels and linens changed daily has evolved into a broad, cohesive environmental plan. Examples include: installation of climate control and energy management systems; automatic light switches; low-flow shower heads and low-flow toilets; fluorescent bulbs; recycling laundry water for other usage; high-efficiency boilers; encouraging guests to turn off the air-conditioner, heater, lights and television when they leave their rooms; recycling; demand control ventilation systems in meeting rooms; and using biodegradable cleaning products – to name just a few of what can comprise a portfolio of green operations.
BEING GREEN INSIDE AND OUT
Executing environmentally-conscious strategies has become a simpler process thanks to companies that have introduced practical green products. According to internal research conducted by Henkel, purchasing a case of their hand soap for their wall-mounted soap-dispensing system (replacing the small thin bars of wrapped soap) affords a savings of 71% and waste reduction of more than 90% (222 shampoo bottles versus one soap cartridge), plus a 10% boost in housekeeping efficiency. These are numbers hoteliers can get behind – and fortunately, eco-friendly measures to save money and resources can be introduced without sacrificing a sense of in-room elegance.
Taking its efforts outside, the Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa in St. Maarten installed solar panels last year that produce six to eight hours of its own power during peak times - a complement to its first solar installation in 2007 to heat water used in guest rooms. In addition to dramatically reducing carbon dioxide emissions, the solar panel system generates approximately 1,223,000 kilowatt hours annually, which is enough electricity to power 111 average-sized American homes.
Hotels appreciate recognition for their outstanding environmental achievements because it’s a testament to their efforts that can be shared with consumers and travel planners. TripAdvisor launched its GreenLeaders program to acknowledge eco-friendly properties (running the gamut of price and style) who are dedicated to following green practices. Hotels apply for designation; once achieved, a special GreenLeader badge is featured on a property’s listing page. Consumers can click on the badge to learn more about a hotel’s green practices.
GREEN AROUND THE INDUSTRY
Big-name chains and independent hotels alike have embraced a green approach to hotel operations. It’s about ‘doing good’ and careful consideration of a property’s impact on its destination regardless of any affiliation.
For example, as a result of its extensive green measures – including high-efficiency shower heads, lavatories and water closets; usage of native plants, requiring no irrigation usage except in drought situations; and low-emitting materials such as carpets and paints to reduce the quantity of potentially harmful air contaminants – the Hilton Garden Inn in Gatlinburg, TN became the first LEED certified hotel in the state. “One of the biggest savings that we see is in our water consumption,” explained Cornelia Dobbins, General Manager. “By implementing water saving practices, we have reduced the water levels by 30%, therefore reducing the energy needed to heat our water. This doubles on the savings effort (using less water and having to heat less water). This practice is one that the owners, management and our community feel good about.”
Preferred Hotel Group member Inn by the Sea effectively blends exceptional hospitality with environmental preservation. According to Glanville, “Green design features such as solar panels and recycled cork floors, or heat from biofuel, indigenous landscape and composting all contribute to real savings in water, waste, energy and chemicals. Sustainability also adds great value to the guest stay. Entertaining programs focused on regional offerings that support community, vendors and producers, or celebrating all things local in our Sea Glass restaurant, all add to a rich and quintessential Maine experience for our guests.”
Assessment can inspire motivation. InterContinental Hotels Group’s “Green Engage” program is a comprehensive on-line sustainability tool that produces customized reports, based on data entered by a hotel, offering a benchmark comparison to other properties. From this information, an outline of environmentally-conscious solutions are offered. More than half the IHG properties are enrolled in “Green Engage,” which is touted as being able to help hotels function up to 25% more efficiently.
INSPIRING GUESTS AND STAFF
Do eco-conscious hotels appeal to travelers? Environmental initiatives are not just the ‘good’ thing to do – but have business-building power by positively driving the decision-making of consumers about where to spend their money. A hotel’s sustainable achievements can resonate with guests who appreciate the opportunity to act responsibly while traveling for business or leisure.
A key element to ensure success with the roll-out of green practices is thorough education of hotel staff, from management through all departments in the organization. It is empowering when employees play a role in assisting the hotel fulfill its eco-conscious mission. Making a mindset of sustainability-consciousness part of the business culture is a reflection of a hotel’s commitment to corporate social responsibility.
Green is increasingly pervading hotel operations, and the financial and feel-good benefits are extremely substantial. Hoteliers look for numbers such as average daily rate and hotel occupancy to increase but sometimes it’s gratifying to be satisfied with lower figures – such as reduced water and energy usage percentages – as a result of smart environmental practices. And, as green becomes the new black, more and more hotels can aim to follow an operating philosophy similar to what guides the Inn by the Sea – “Preserve, protect and inspire.”
This article is brought to you by Dial, and was produced in partnership with Hotel Management’s sales team.
Hotel Management’s editorial team played no part in developing the article.