Earth Day 2017 — and What Hilton is Doing to Help Save the Environment

W hen staying at a hotel or resort property, guests think about enjoying themselves on a leisurely vacation to get away from it all; or to conduct business while away from home — not about the environment or its sustainability…

…but lodging does have a significant impact on the environment: all of the towels and linens which need to be washed; all of the floors and furnishings which need to be cleaned and maintained; the plastic which is used for bottles of amenities and water; the paper used for announcements and advertising; the energy which is required to power lights, appliances, vehicles and machinery; and the leftover food which is disposed and cannot be used again for health reasons.

One thing about which many people do not think is what lodging companies are doing to minimize the negative impact their operations have on the environment.

Earth Day 2017 — and What Hilton is Doing to Help Save the Environment

Hilton is one of those lodging companies dedicated to doing what it can to help save and preserve the environment for future generations. I had the opportunity to have an exclusive conversation with Maxime Verstraete — who is the vice president of corporate responsibility for Hilton — and I learned about a number of initiatives in which Hilton is involved. I intend to post details of that conversation in a future article…

…but for this article, here are some of the initiatives in which Hilton has been involved — about many of which I did not even know…

LightStay

A proprietary system called LightStay — which was first announced seven years ago — was developed to calculate and analyze environmental impact following two years of rigorous internal testing. In the first full-year of findings, the 2009 LightStay results show that the 1,300 Hilton hotel and resort properties which used the system conserved enough energy to power 5,700 homes for a year; saved enough water to fill greater than 650 Olympic-size swimming pools; and reduced carbon output equivalent to taking 34,865 cars off the road. Reductions in water and energy use also translated into an estimated savings of greater than $29 million in utility costs in 2009 for owners of hotel and resort properties.

Effective as of Sunday, January 1, 2012, all hotel and resort properties in the Hilton portfolio worldwide were required to maintain property-level measurement of sustainability using LightStay, which takes into account energy and water use and waste and carbon outputs associated with building operations and services provided at Hilton hotels and resort properties. As part of this, the system measures indicators across 200 operational practices — including housekeeping, paper product use, food waste, chemical storage, air quality and transportation.

LightStay also includes a “meeting impact calculator” which measures the environmental impact of any meeting or conference held at a Hilton hotel or resort property. This enables meeting planners and corporate travel managers to consider the environmental impact of hotel stays and meetings when making purchasing decisions. In addition, it provides corporate customers with the opportunity to include meeting impact data in their own sustainability reporting.

Since LightStay was implemented, it has enabled Hilton to reduce energy use by 14.5 percent; carbon output by 20.9 percent; waste output by 27.6 percent; and water use by 14.1 percent in six years — resulting in an estimated $550 million of cumulative savings. Hotels are required to track and complete improvement projects each year and greater than 22,000 local projects have taken place to reduce the impact Hilton has on the environment. LightStay uses historical data to forecast future energy usage levels and predict the impact of performance on cost and annual consumption, taking into account variables such as occupancy and weather.

Results from LightStay have been noticed: Hilton received the 2016 Product of the Year Award from Environment Leader for the first time. Additionally, Hilton was one of the highest ranked hospitality companies on the 2016 Top Green Companies list of Newsweek for the second consecutive year.

All of the hotel and resort properties of Hilton around the world are ISO 50001 — or energy management — certified as of September of 2014, which complements the other global systemwide ISO certifications of ISO 9001 and 140 of Hilton.

Department of Energy Swap With Whole Foods

In February of 2016, the Department of Energy of the United States unveiled the Better Buildings Challenge SWAP, which involved Hilton and Whole Foods Market swapping energy management teams at their facilities in San Francisco.

As a result of the SWAP, the Hilton team started implementing several recommendations — including light emitting diode lighting upgrades, door gasket replacements, and the phase-out of less efficient appliances within refrigerated containers at the Hilton Union Square hotel property.

Whole Foods Market has employed a range of strategies to advance environmental stewardship across its portfolio of 370 buildings — or nearly 13 million square feet — and has achieved energy savings of seven percent towards a 20 percent goal. The Hilton team uncovered lighting fixes, refrigeration savings through doors on cases, and heat recovery improvements which could net positive energy savings at the Whole Foods Ocean Avenue store.

Sustainable Seafood Goals

Hilton’s sustainable seafood goals will comprise the global ban of procurement of endangered species as identified by WWF, and the transition of its seafood purchasing to sustainable and responsible sources. Click on the graphic for an enlarged view. Source: Hilton.

Hilton’s sustainable seafood goals will comprise the global ban of procurement of endangered species as identified by WWF, and the transition of its seafood purchasing to sustainable and responsible sources. Click on the graphic for an enlarged view. Source: Hilton.

Hilton announced a multi-year implementation of strong global sustainable seafood goals on World Oceans Day back in June of 2016 in collaboration with World Wildlife Fund, which comprise of the global ban of procurement of endangered species; and the transition of its seafood purchasing to sustainable and responsible sources. By 2022, Hilton will source at least 25 percent of its total global seafood volume for owned, managed and leased properties from Marine Stewardship Council certified fisheries and Aquaculture Stewardship Council certified farms. The remaining seafood will be sourced from fisheries and farms working toward certification from both councils; comprehensive fishery and aquaculture improvement projects; or those listed as “green” on regional seafood guides of the World Wildlife Fund, which will help Hilton measure and report progress to ensure the company is on track to achieve its goals.

This commitment follows the global ban on shark fin from restaurants and food and beverage facilities of Hilton in 2014.

Water Stewardship Policy

Water stewardship

Source: Hilton.

Through a collaboration with World Wildlife Fund, Hilton is evaluating its entire value chain to identify areas that are exposed to high water risk — as well as the communities that are increasingly exposed to water stress — by signing onto the CEO Water Mandate of the United Nations, joining business leaders in advancing water stewardship across the globe. The travel and tourism sector in which Hilton operates substantially depends on water — including for showers and baths in guest rooms, toilets and sinks, swimming pools, landscaping, and cooking and cleaning in kitchens as only several of many examples. A 40 percent shortfall is forecast by 2030 in what is needed to meet the global demand for this precious resource.

In previous years, Hilton has worked hard to reduce the amount of water consumed within its hotel operations – with nearly 17 percent reduction in seven years; and it has taken its water stewardship to the next level by looking across the entire value chain that supports the hotel ecosystem — from its business partnerships to the communities in which it operates and the watersheds in which they are based.

Soap Recycling Program

All 750 hotel properties across the All Suites brands of Hilton — including Embassy Suites by Hilton, Homewood Suites by Hilton and Home2 Suites by Hilton, which comprise nearly 15 percent of the current portfolio of Hilton and 29 percent of its pipeline — have started recycling discarded soap and amenity bottles as of last year and donate them to reduce hygiene-related illnesses for communities in need. It is a major expansion of what is already the largest soap recycling program in the industry by requiring it as a brand standard, which will nearly double the number of hotels participating in the soap-recycling program.

Through its partnerships with Clean the World and other organizations, the hotel and resort properties of Hilton have already collected greater than one million pounds of partially-used soap, which have been recycled into more than four million new bars of soap. This process has also prevented greater than 570 tons of waste going to landfills. In addition to supplying the soap, these organizations educate people about the importance of hygiene and handwashing.

Through the program, the partially-used soaps and amenities of hotel and resort properties are shipped to the collection and recycling centers of Clean the World, where they are processed; remanufactured into new soap bars; and prepared for distribution to homeless shelters, community centers and medical facilities in impoverished communities around the world.

Example of One Hotel Property

Individual hotel and resort properties within the Hilton portfolio are reporting their efforts. For example, the Hilton Warsaw Hotel and Convention Centre boasts that it has saved three Olympic pools of water; taken 246 cars off of the road; and saved 169 households power.

Summary

I am rather impressed with the efforts in which Hilton has expended in its Travel With Purpose program in order to become a corporation which is friendlier to the environment; and I applaud their initiatives.

I do have a challenge for Hilton which could potentially save millions of gallons of water: find a way to use condensate from its air conditioning units for either landscaping or toilets instead of using the fresh water supply — especially in areas whose climates are prone to being consistently hot and humid. Similarly, find a way to use “grey water” — such as water used from showers — for similar purposes which are considered not potable. I have always believed in the conservation of water — especially in areas which experience drought conditions — and I have offered suggestions in the past on how to conserve water.

As for the cleanliness and hygiene of washing hands — well…you know how adamant I am about that

…so may today, Saturday, April 22, 2017 be the most successful Earth Day yet…

The swimming pool is filled and illuminated at night at the Hilton Hurghada Long Beach Resort — in a desert in Egypt. A belated review of that resort property is forthcoming. Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

2 thoughts on “Earth Day 2017 — and What Hilton is Doing to Help Save the Environment”

  1. Mark says:

    Great work on the part of Hilton. I hadn’t even heard of a lot of these places/initiatives/organizations. I’ve got my own hotel in the Philippines, a small glamping one. We’re doing our part to create sustainability in the area but aren’t very optimistic given the local attitudes. I love the water stewardship policy they have and the issue of water is something I’m looking at more and more. Learning tons and trying to act as a result of that learning. Thanks again!

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      That is a shame, Mark; as when I was in the Philippines, I could not help but think how much better the country could be with minimal effort towards improving its environment.

      Hopefully your sustainability efforts pay off — and for what it is worth, I thank you for at least making the attempt.

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