The Importance of Practicing Sustainability Within the Hospitality Industry
By Don Shindle General Manager, Westin Verasa Napa | May 19, 2013
The hospitality industry has seen significant change as green initiatives and sustainability have taken a more prominent role in today's world and in the consciousness of our guests and our staff. Hotel operators across the globe are held increasingly accountable to a "worldwide global citizenship" standard. This is a term that our team fully embraces here at The Westin Verasa Napa. We understand how significant this responsibility is and the importance of sustainability on a long-term basis. As a community leader, we are committed to positively contributing to our environmental well-being now and in our future endeavors.
Over the past few years, numerous hotels have "gone green" and practicing more sustainable methods of operating their properties. Initially, many hotels were hesitant about transitioning to more eco-friendly practices. Budget approvals and increased capital costs can be discouraging factors, and regardless of the long-term return of investment, some property owners and hotel managers felt that going green simply wasn't feasible. Now, however, with the economy in a modest rebound, there are many hotels worldwide practicing sustainability and, perhaps to their surprise, seeing the benefits of these practices in both the short and long term.
Some green initiatives do not require a high capital cost requirement. Composting, for example, can be as simple as changing your delivery agreement with your local waste management company and training your team on how to manage the composting process. These steps require little or no increase in costs. Rather, it is a matter of commitment, of taking the responsibility to understand that instead of throwing things away in a waste bin, it is much more effective to implement a compost program.
The Westin Verasa Napa's main focus is on energy, water, and waste management improvements. One of the goals that we are very seriously is "30/20 by 20," which focuses on reducing our energy consumption by 30 percent and reducing water consumption by 20 percent by the year 2020. The significant amount of money the property will save in the long run will be as meaningful as the positive impact the initiative will have on the environment.
Almost all green initiatives here at The Westin Verasa Napa also have a financial impact on the bottom line. Two big initiatives that we've implemented since November 2011 are the Clean the World Foundation and "Make a Green Choice." These two initiatives have been extremely successful in many ways. As a Clean the World Foundation partner hotel, The Westin Verasa supports the organization's goal of reducing waste created by discarded soap and shampoo products and preventing the millions of deaths caused by hygiene-related illnesses worldwide.
Here at the property, gently used soap products are collected by housekeeping staff and sent to Clean the World's recycling centers to undergo sanitization, a patented process certified to be 100 percent effective in killing all pathogens. At the end of November 2012, one year after this initiative was put into place, The Westin Verasa Napa collected over 900 pounds of soap, which equates to 4,600 bars of soap that went to children and families in need in the United States and more than 40 other countries, including Haiti, Japan, Zimbabwe, Uganda, India, Honduras, Mexico and Albania. In the first year of our participation in Clean the World Foundation, we've collected more than 1,400 pounds of bottled amenities. Collectively, The Westin Verasa has diverted over a ton of waste away from local landfills. We are very proud of this accomplishment and expect our numbers in 2013 to be much greater.