the long-term impact of the events of September 11, 2001, are
still uncertain, travel and tourism has been for some time the
worlds largest industry. According to the Travel Industry
Association (TIA) of America, domestic spending by U.S. resident
and international travelers averaged $1.54 billion-a-day during
2000. These travel expenditures, in turn, generated 7.8 million
jobs for Americans. The World Tourism Organization has recently
released preliminary data of the estimated number of international
tourist arrivals worldwide for the year 2000 to be a record
U.S. businesses alone have been spending roughly $170 billion annually
on business travel. The Ford Motor Co. estimates spending $90 million
each year on individual travel and $150 million on group meetings
Whether it be for business or pleasure, it is obvious that the travel
industry has an enormous impact on the worlds economy. Given
its scope, its impact on the worlds environment is equally
significant. Not many of us change our sheets and towels daily in
our own homes; yet water and energy are wasted in colossal amounts
every day as linens are routinely washed after one nights
use. Also, every day millions of little plastic bottles of shampoo
and body lotion are thrown away because they were used just once.
In order to stay competitive, many hotels renovate their guest rooms
every few years, tossing out carpeting, bedspreads and window treatments
that havent really worn out, just uglied out.
In pursuit of customer satisfaction, quantity often replaces quality,
and use of natural resources has grown to be vast and unsustainable.
A growing number of hotel chains, both large and small, are proving
that there is a better way, both for the environment and for their
bottom line. Evidence has shown that recycling and implementing
other waste reduction strategies, conserving water and energy and
practicing green procurement procedures can significantly reduce
a hotels operating expenses. Successful Meetings magazine,
in its March 2001 issue, reported that the Regal Biltmore Hotel
in Los Angeles, CA, has saved nearly 1,700 pounds of detergents
and 375,000 gallons of water annually ($70,000 a year) since introducing
its sheet and towel reuse program.
New York Citys Waldorf-Astoria has switched to more energy-efficient
lighting systems, saving 1.2 million kilowatt hours annually ($72,000
Fairmount Hotels and Resorts, the largest luxury hotel management
company in North America, has been leading the industry through
its Green Partnership Program. Begun in 1990 by the Canadian Pacific
Hotel Group before its consolidation with Fairmount, the programs
objective was to institute the highest possible standards of environmental
responsibility, and it has evolved as the model for the industry.
Its highly successful publication, The Green Partner-ship Guide,
is a step-by-step manual to incorporating environmental initiatives
into the workplace. Ann Layton, vice president of public affairs
and communications for Fair-mount, believes that the guide is truly
a blueprint that any businessnot just hotelscan follow.
Karen Fletcher, director of the International Hotels Environ-ment
Initiative in London, England, agrees, There is now no excuse
for hotels or businesses, large or small, not to have sound environmental
programs in place.
Another early adopter, Tedd Saunders, president of the Eco-Logical
Solutions division of the Saunders Hotel Group of Boston, MA, has
been fully committed for more than 12 years to the greening of his
two luxury hotels in that city, the Lenox and Copley Square, and
its newest property, the Comfort Inn at Logan Airport. Saunders
saw tremendous opportunities for reducing the environmental impact
of his hotels, lowering operating costs, strengthening employee
morale, building customer loyalty and increasing visibility.
Saunders believes that theres more to it than simply changing
equipment or proceduresits also changing the way people
think. In an industry built on service, employees must understand
the goals and objectives of the organization. How do you motivate
people who are washing other peoples bathtubs? Saunders
asks. He believes that environmental commitment becomes a factor
in employee morale and gives the staff a real sense of purpose beyond
simply providing a service to a customer.
These beliefs are based on more than just antecdotal evidence. As
a family-owned business, the Saunders Group is very conscious of
the larger impact
it has on its community through its employees and families. SHINE,
the Saunders Hotels Initiative to Nurture the Environment, has received
high ratings for generating staff pride as well as suggestions that
save the company money. Suppliers have also responded to their environmental
commitment with new products: a bicarbonate soda cleaning process
for cleaning carpets without any toxic residue and a chemical-free
ultra-sonic cleaning technique for crystal chandeliers.
The Sheraton Rittenhouse Square Hotel in Philadelphia, PA, is another
very green hotel and an example of one mans perseverance.
Barry Dimson, one of the projects developers, was committed
to pushing the environmental envelope beyond recycling and energy
conservation and convinced the Sheraton Corp. to view the project
as a pilot program. As a result of some unpleasant personal experiences,
high among Dimsons priorities was providing clean air to guests
with allergies or other chemical sensitivities. Consequently, the
Rittenhouse is the first hotel in the continental U.S. to provide
fresh, filtered air, 24-hours-a-day to each guest room. In addition,
good air quality is assured by a smoking ban everywhere in the building.
The fresh air system did add to the hotels construction cost,
but Dimson states that business was so good from the very beginning
that they earned back all their money in the first year.
The Power of the Dollar
As the Rittenhouse example demonstrates, the greening of hotels
is also being driven by consumer demand. A study by the Travel Agency
Association of America found that 80 percent of travelers are more
likely to patronize travel companies that help to preserve the environment.
The Saunders Hotel Group surveyed 1,000 travelers and found that
94 percent of them prefer to stay in environmentally sound properties.
In fact, more letters of guest praise are received on this subject
than any other. Saunders estimates that the Lenox brought in more
than $350,000 in new group business entirely attributable to their
The largest travel impact is at the corporate travel level as U.S.
businesses spend roughly $170 billion annually on overall business
travel. On average, 40 percent of the hotel industrys business
comes from meetings and conferences. These numbers are indicative
of enormous buying power, and when Ford, which books 900,000 room
nights per year, or similarly-sized organizations begin to move
toward green hotels, the industry pays attention.
With this in mind, the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible
Economies (CERES) formed the Green Hotel Initiative (GHI) in October
2000. CERES members include forward-looking companies and
multi-national corporations that endorse the CERES principles, a
10-point code of environmental conduct. Last spring, GHI launched
its Best Practices Survey, an easy-to-use list of criteria that
measures a hotels environmental performance. It allows meeting
planners and travel buyers to choose hotels that meet their business
needs and additionally provides environmental considerations. Companies
that have committed to using the Best Practices Survey include General
Motors, Aveda, American Airlines, Northeast Utilities, The Bullitt
Foundation, Interface, Inc., Recycled Paper Printing, Inc. and the
architectural firm of William McDonough and Partners.
American Airlines, on average, secures 6,500 hotel rooms every
night for our flight crews around the worldor more than two
million rooms per year, said Monica Chamberlain, the airlines
manager of hotel contracts. Its important that we consider
hotels that not only meet the specific criteria for overnight crew
stays, but hotels that can also share our personal commitment to
environmental stewardship. The Best Practices Survey is now a part
of our procurement package.
When CERES held its own two-day conference earlier this year, it
chose the Swissôtel Atlanta. Management there agreed to add
a Green Commitment clause to the conference contract, appointed
a green team and worked with a representative of the Pollution Prevention
Assistance Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources
to assess the state of the hotels environmental performance.
A Swissôtel Atlanta mission statement was created that read,
As part of the world-class luxury experience that is Swissôtel
Atlanta, we are proud to pledge our commitment to being an environmentally
responsible hotel, while exceeding our guests expectations.
The team then identified and implemented improvements in the three
major areas of energy, water and solid waste.
Sarah Raposa, CERES GHI project manager, says of the hotel,
They exceeded expectations in providing a green conference
by implementing dozens of programs ranging from improved air quality
and supply purchasing to the methods of serving food and beverages.
It comes as no surprise to learn that environmental advocates such
as Tedd Saunders and Barry Dimson were instrumental in the development
of the GHI and the Best Practices Survey. Working with Raposa, they
came together with a diverse group of both providers and procurers
of hotel services as well as other experts to provide both technical
and strategic advice. The groups motivation may well have
come from some unsettling statistics as reported in Successful Meetings.
The results of a survey of 306 meeting planners showed that only
19 percent make a point of using properties with environmentally
responsible programs, citing too busy or never
considered it as their reasons for not doing so; however,
others suggested they would consider environmental initiatives if
the information were more readily available. Saunders views such
comments as an incredible opportunity for the Best Practices Survey
to provide the knowledge that the meeting planner needs to take
environmental procurement to the next level.
The checklist, he says, is only a starting point.
When travel planners from large organizations start visiting properties
to verify what theyve been told, weve obviously begun
to raise awareness.
Saunders is extremely proud of his companys reputation as
one of the pioneers of the green hotel movement and of having been
a very strong advocate to the rest of the industry. His new Comfort
Inn Suites has been selected as the green prototype for entire Choice
Hotel chain. He is always looking for innovative ways to take the
next step. For example, after replacing all the water-hungry toilets
in his properties with efficient ones, he kept the old ones from
the landfill by sending them to a gravel company to be pulverized
and used for roadbed. Fairmount Hotels is in the process of bringing
its highly successful Green Partnership Program, first initiated
its Canadian properties, to those in the U.S. and worldwide, including
a presentation to the Salt Lake City, UT, organizing committee for
the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
In continuing these initiatives, these hotel companies and others
are signifying their belief in the validity and vitality of the
green movement, echoing the sentiments of noted environmentalist,
Dr. David Suzuki, The challenge of changing our perspective
and actions becomes an opportunity to save money, conserve resources,
create jobs and lessen the impact on our surroundings. Its
good for business, its good for morale and its good
for the planet.
Copies of the Green Hotel Initiative Best Practices Survey are available
on the CERES Web site at www.ceres.org.
To order Fairmounts second edition of The Green Partnership
Guide, call 416-874-2600, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.