With some major exceptions, the hotel industry has been criticized for being slow to adopt an eco-friendly business approach. That is no longer the case. Here are the latest initiatives coming out of some of the major brands. Check out the Web sites of these chains and others to see their complete environmental policies laid out in detail.
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
Disney began going green in 1990 with its “Environmentality” initiatives. At Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, for example, many properties — including Disney's BoardWalk Resort, Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resort, and Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa — have received a Green Lodging Designation from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Walt Disney World Resort is also a recipient of the 2007 Florida Energy Achievement Award for efficient use of energy, energy conservation, energy education, and renewable energy.
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
Fairmont has long been committed to sustainability and in 1990 developed its comprehensive Green Partnership program, designed to minimize the hotels' environmental impact. The program focuses on improvements in the areas of waste management, energy and water conservation, habitat protection, purchasing, and community outreach through local partnerships. In 2007, Fairmont initiated Eco-Meet, a program option for meeting planners looking to green their events, which outlines many green practices and includes a useful checklist. Early this year, Fairmont entered into a partnership with the World Wildlife Fund to help combat climate change by measuring and reducing its carbon dioxide emissions.
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
With a corporate commitment to operate its properties in an environmentally sensitive way, many Four Seasons hotels have aggressively implemented green policies. For example, the Regent Singapore received Singapore's inaugural Energy Smart Award last year for achieving outstanding energy efficiency without compromising indoor environmental quality.
Hilton Hotels Corp.
Hilton has introduced several company-wide environmental initiatives, such as its “conserve to preserve” program, which gives hotels the choice of re-using towels and saving water. Hilton is also retrofitting its hotel rooms with lower wattage compact fluorescent light bulbs and has initiated a Hilton environmental reporting system that allows hotel managers to benchmark environmental performance.
Hyatt Hotels Corp.
Hyatt recently created a new position within the company — Vice President, Environmental Affairs — who is tasked with initiating a companywide environmental sustainability program. The chain's new luxury brand, Andaz, plans on being especially green with organic food and beverage and fully biodegradable products.
Marriott's Environmentally Conscious Hotel Operations program focuses on water and energy conservation, clean air initiatives, wildlife preservation, waste management, and clean-up campaigns. The chain is also a member of the EPA's Climate Leaders program through which it has committed to reduce its energy use by 6 percent, per guest room, in the period from 2005 to 2010. As well, Marriott recently signed an agreement with the state of Amazonas in Brazil to help protect 1.4 million acres of endangered rain forest and collaborated with Conservation International to reduce its global environmental footprint.
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co.
Ritz-Carlton's vice president, community footprints, recently launched the Give Back Getaways program, through which guests canto help local communities. Programs with an environmental impact include one offered at the Ritz-Carlton Cancun, where participants join a biologist from the Cancun Department of Biology to help protect endangered sea turtles by searching for nesting turtles, gathering their eggs, and relocating them at “turtle camps” in safer locations.
Sofitel is working with Community Energy Inc. to supply all nine of its U.S. properties with renewable wind energy. The hotels, including two in Chicago and one each in Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington D.C., will buy a total of 1,527,000 kilowatt-hours of renewable energy, which will provide an environmental benefit equal to offsetting approximately 2 million pounds of carbon dioxide per year.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide
Starwood's aloft brand features a “see green” program that promotes eco-friendly products and services, such as hotel parking lots with spots reserved for hybrid cars. Its newest brand, Element, is a working laboratory to test green construction. All hotels brandwide are required to meet the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification standards.
It Pays to Meet Green
As part of it's corporate social responsibility initiative, Kimpton Hotels has introduced a new program called “Great Meetings, Great Causes,” through which it is offering planners eco-friendly incentives to hold meetings at its properties. Planners who book meetings with Kimpton can choose from a menu of options that includes a $100 dollar donation to one of Kimpton Hotels' corporate social responsibility partners (such as the Trust for Public Land) or to the corporate social responsibility partner of the planner's choice; or a $105 donation to an environmental organization to offset the meeting's carbon use.