“Going Green” Committee Makes an Impact

By Nigel Lobo Vice President of Resort Operations, Grand Pacific Resorts | November 21, 2010

Thinking Green is not just the 'right thing to do;' in the long run it is fiscally responsible and also adds to the overall guest experience.

Ever since our company launched a series of initiatives aimed at promoting environmental practices to reduce environmental impact, improve the bottom line as well as satisfy owner and guest expectations for environmentally conscious hospitality practices we have noticed a substantial rise in corporate "green" awareness and a significant impact on our bottom line. To get the job done, we adopted a number of action items. We formed a "Going Green" Committee comprised of representatives from each one of our resorts to pioneer, champion, document and create new operational strategies for implementation of these practices at Grand Pacific Resort Management (GPRM) managed resorts. As we do our part to think and act Green our Going Green Squad continually come up with great ideas and solutions, the overall effect is that the entire staff (over our 15 resorts) is now invested in the importance and results of Going Green practices.

Let's take our company as a case study to serve as an example of how resort companies may address the corporate culture, the bottom line and the all over environment by practicing Green Initiatives on a consistent basis.

We divided our Green Initiatives program into four primary components: Water, Air, Energy, Waste. The breakdown of these elements was not our own imagination. As pointed out by Alan Schlaifer in a recent article in the Resort Trades, Andrew Winston, consultant to Fortune 500 companies and author of Green Recovery: Get Lean, Get Smart, and Emerge from the Downturn on Top, recommended four major ways "do more with less, which will save you money quickly." He lists five key business areas that make for "quick wins and sizable savings: facilities, distribution IT, telework and waste." In our industry these areas are easily translatable into reducing energy and tracking consumption, reducing water usage, improving air quality and minimizing waste.

  • To reduce water usage we made a number of simple, effective changes. We implemented a linen and towel re-use program, shifted laundry operations to off-peak hours, and installed low-flow showerheads and water aerators. In addition we allocated funds to purchase new, more energy efficient commercial dryers and washers. To cut water consumption on the grounds of resorts, we installed satellite controlled irrigation timers and brought in drought-tolerant plants. These measures drastically reduced water consumption at our resorts.

  • Air conditioning and heating use was another practical adjustment. For this energy adjustment we needed to have our guests and owners embrace the concept. So, along with standardized ambient thermostat settings we educated the real people responsible for the usage in the rooms and suites. At our regular Welcome Breakfast we remind guests to be conscious of A/C usage and remember to use alternative cooling methods (like opening windows) or to keep windows closed when the A/C was in use.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.