Ten Points for Embracing Sustainability at Your Historic Property
By Rob Howell General Manager, Shawnee Inn & Golf Resort | May 05, 2013
Sustainability has become an important part of the lodging industry. In addition to our responsibility to the guest, the staff, and the ownership, we have a responsibility to the environment. Many articles have been written about the programs that can be incorporated into properties operations to promote sustainability. However, managing a historic property's environmental footprint may increase the challenge.
When a new property is built, construction materials are analyzed and chosen carefully. Buildings are designed to be more energy efficient. Operating procedures are developed from the ground up for purchasing, serving, cleaning, and delivering a more sustainable, environmentally friendly property. For a historic property, embracing sustainability is a journey that encompasses all aspects of a property and requires planning, investment, and determination. Historic properties can attain LEED certification with investment. Modifications can be done to be energy efficient and more environmentally responsible. However, to be effective, operators of historic properties need to make sustainability a priority to ensure its influence on an operation. Where do you start?
What is your impact on our surroundings? How large is your carbon footprint? How can you lessen your effect on the environment to ensure survival? For historic properties, this desire to live on, to survive into the future, is tremendous. Owners and managers have led their historic properties through recessions, depressions, facility challenges, and branding realignments. For historic properties, embracing sustainability has become an ownership and management challenge. Introducing environmentally friendly programs to not only assist our focus on sustainability, but also fit into our branding, can be very costly but also prove to be rewarding and profitable.
As a historic property, do you have any respect for your history? Managers must believe that operating a historic resort is a privilege. Respecting its history and intertwining that into the operation is a delight. There is a difference between historic and old. Old is a weakness, history is a strength. This difference starts with how an operator embraces the history of the property and how they make it part of the property's story. There is a great opportunity for a historic resort to use the past when addressing its sustainability plan. Presently, I manage a historic resort located in the Pocono Mountains.
My historic property is a 100-year-old resort located on the edge of the Wild and Scenic Delaware River, bordered by 70,000 acres of the Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area. Because of our location, we focus on inviting our guests to stay at our resort and enjoy the natural environment. This reliance on the outdoors and our pure surroundings is the perfect reason to embrace a robust sustainability plan. As we began to build our sustainability plan, I explored the following 10 areas:
1. Look at the history of your property