What You Should Know to be Eco Friendly

By Cary Tyler Schirmer Chief Executive Officer, The Higgins Group | August 07, 2010

While we all enjoy a luxurious night in a hotel, we rarely think about how it might impact the environment. According to California's Waste Management Board, the average hotel purchases more products in one week than one hundred families typically do in a year. One room can produce up to 30 pounds of waste per day. With numbers like those, we're happy to see a trend of more hotels going green and implementing eco-friendly practices that can significantly reduce global pollution.

Environmentally-friendly hotels aren't just businesses that meet the government's regulations - they also apply their own practices to prevent pollution and conserve resources. Simply put, green businesses do as much as possible to decrease their consumption of natural resources, goods and energy. For some eco-friendly hotels, that starts while developing the property. The site is chosen with environmentally sensitive zones and erosion control in mind. In addition to using temperature-efficient building materials, some hotels even install solar panels to harness the sun's natural power to generate electricity and heat water.

What you can do

But for most hoteliers, going green doesn't mean you have to tear down your existing property and start from scratch. Here are a few tips that will help your hotel spare the environment, and spare your bottom line:

  • Switch to energy efficient lighting and fixtures.
    The EPA's Energy Star program has opened the door to luxuriously-styled, decorative lighting fixtures that use 1/3 the energy consumed by standard fixtures. By using less energy, we release less green house gas emissions. Combine those fixtures with compact fluorescent light bulbs that use 2/3 less energy than regular incandescent bulbs and you have a lot of savings. These light bulbs, now available in both warm and cool spectrums, generate 70% less heat-a significant reduction in cooling costs.

  • Install low-flow, water-conservative shower heads and aerators.
    "Low-flow shower head" used to mean standing under a few drips-not an option for luxury hotels. In the last several years, manufacturers have stifled critics by designing chic fixtures that control water flow effectively and comfortably. Instead of just blocking flow, modern shower heads focus the stream and increase the water force with air to create a more enjoyable, more pleasurable shower-experience. Not only do low-flow shower heads and aerators help conserve water, using water-efficient fixtures can also reduce water and sewer bills by 25-30%.

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.