When BGT was founded in 2005, we didn't anticipate that the commercial building industry, including the hotel sector, would green up in so many remarkable ways.
Here are some of the green products and practices that have emerged or flowered in the last 13 years. Which ones have your hotel incorporated?
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Since 2005, LED lighting was introduced and it now dominates the hotel lighting market.
Building Management Systems now use sensors and analytics to help facility managers control their facilities and detect problems. We're still in an early stage of the smart building revolution.
EC motors and variable speed drives are now common and make motors more efficient. Heat transfer technology, including combined heat and power and energy recovery ventilation, is deployed more often, too.
Almost all energy-consuming equipment is far more efficient than it was in 2005. Boilers, chillers, elevators and refrigerators are a few examples. Ventilation technology has greatly improved, saving energy and improving comfort. New ventilation controls promise much greater savings in the coming years.
Today, many hotels purchase electricity generated by wind turbines and solar panels. Others buy carbon offsets, or encourage their guests to do so. More than a few hotels generate their own solar electricity.
Electric utility demand charges have become a big portion of many hotel bills. Some hotels mitigate them by shaving their electricity use during periods of peak demand. For example, hotels in a few states charge large batteries when electricity is cheap, and release them when electricity use peaks. This practice will soon be widespread.
Low flow water fixtures are now ubiquitous, thanks to improved technology and regulations.
Newer laundry equipment and dishwashers have dramatically cut hotel water use.
Liquid pool covers now reduce evaporation losses from swimming pools.
In 2005, high-end hotels shunned recycling bins, because they were unattractive. Today, elegant recycling bins are placed in the fanciest properties.
Refillable amenity dispensers are now attractive, too, and have gained a significant foothold. And, it's now common to recycle or donate unused amenities.
The Massachusetts food waste ordinance, introduced in 2014, has changed the way hotels dispose of food waste. Today, MA has a significant composting industry. Haulers have trucks dedicated to food waste. Anaerobic digesters, bio-digesters and food waste dehydrators help hoteliers manage their food waste in a greener way.
The food waste reduction movement blossomed several years ago. Many hotels use new techniques to identify food products that are over-purchased and under-consumed.
This year, seemingly, citizens and governments have become alarmed about plastics discarded into our oceans and land. Hotel chains have responded with plans to eliminate or reduce single-use plastics.
Many hotels now have elaborate donation programs that provide furniture, clothing, linens and food to needy people.
Hotels more commonly plan their renovations to assure that unneeded goods and materials are reused or recycled.
Toxics Use Reduction
In 2005, the indoor hotel environment was less healthy than it is today.
Now, green cleaning products and equipment are common. Hotels offer allergy-friendly rooms and have no-fragrance policies.
Integrated pest management practices have reduced the need for pesticides. Hotels now control bed bugs with non-toxic methods.
Electric vehicles have come onto the market, and hotels have installed charging stations to accommodate them.
Hotel guests have greater access to bicycles, thanks to bike-sharing and bike rental programs.
Hotels now offer more locally-grown and harvested food, and vegetarian and vegan dishes, in response to popular demand. Some hotel chefs put sustainable seafood on the menu, too.
In 2005, who predicted that downtown hotels would house beehives?
Stronger storms and sea level rise have increased property damage worldwide. There's a growing recognition that hotels must do more to protect their properties and help their communities respond to weather emergencies.
Of course, the green hotel revolution won't end in 2018. It will continue to be spurred by advances in technology, economics and the need to address urgent environmental problems. I have no doubt that we'll soon see "net zero" hotels--properties that don't use fossil fuel at all.
How will you participate in the green hotel revolution?