We Compost It! - An Environmental Initiative

By Nicki Noble Bean Director of Marketing, The Nonantum Resort | May 15, 2016

The Nonantum Resort is located right on the water in Kennebunkport, Maine – just a half mile from Dock Square, and an easy scenic stroll or bike ride up Ocean Avenue to Walker's Point, summer home of the Bushes. Situated on the Kennebunk River, with the breakwater and the ocean within view, the resort has its own lighthouse and an array of classic Adirondack chairs set out on its spacious back lawn – making it an idyllic coastal retreat.

Built in 1883 by a local sea captain, and opened on July 4, 1884, the Nonantum kicks off its 132nd season of operation by welcoming guests to a property steeped in history and tradition, but with modern comforts and efficiencies. As of opening day (April 29, 2016), the resort has completed construction of a brand new elevator in its historic Carriage House Inn, while also retaining its original 1800's Otis brass elevator – with the chain door and hand crank that bellman have to operate for guests – as a relic of the historic property.

Some travelers may not equate historic hotels with being green. Yet The Nonantum, which has 109 guestrooms in two separate buildings, as well as three on-site restaurants and over 5,000 square feet of function space, has been certified as an Environmental Leader by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The resort has also been awarded the TripAdvisor GreenLeaders Gold level rating in 2015 and 2016 – the second highest a property can achieve for its sustainability efforts.

The resort's Green Team meets monthly to discuss and implement environmental initiatives, like saving energy, conserving water, utilizing environmentally preferable cleaners, minimizing and reducing waste, and educating the staff and guests on ways to help reduce their environmental impact.

At the start of the 2015 summer season, the Nonantum began a partnership with We Compost It!, a local Maine startup that delivers clean, cost effective and convenient composting solutions. The Nonantum was the first hotel in York County to do so.

Unused food scraps from the resort's three on-site restaurants, plus its numerous weddings and events, were collected by We Compost It! and hauled to Auburn, Maine. There they create Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association endorsed compost. The compost is then used by local schools, farms and businesses on their garden beds. By the end of the season in mid-December 2015, the resort had composted just under 40 tons of waste.

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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.