Sustainability and green initiatives continue to be an important part of the meetings industry. Both planners and resorts are creating programs and finding equipment to create both cost savings and reduced carbon footprints.
Resorts continue to be leaders in sustainability. Rhonda Khabir, Corporate Director of Sales, Great Wolf Lodge, is proud of their efforts and the recognition they’ve received. “Project Green Wolf began in 2007 and has been an integral part of our operation ever since. In 2009, Great Wolf Resorts became the first U.S. Lodging company to become Green Seal Certified at all of our locations.”
Kalahari Resorts has a unique recycling initiative with a significant feel-good factor. Kevin Shanley, Corporate Director of Sales, Kalahari Resorts, shares that by working with Clean The World, the largest global recycler of hotel amenities (soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions and gels), their resort in Wisconsin Dells has diverted 31,000 pounds of soap and bottled amenities from landfills. The soap donated has directly resulted in more than 86,000 re-manufactured, sterile soap bars being distributed to people in need around the world. In addition they also offer resort-wide receptacles for refuse recycling and use of high post-consumer/recycled paper products. Through their protocol regarding the cardboard boxes used to ship products and supplies, their Wisconsin Dells location has recycled more than 1,100 tons of cardboard to date.
Great Wolf Lodge also has recycling standards in place. “Our commitment to recycling and the use of only recycled paper throughout the resorts is a key component to Project Green Wolf,” said Khabir. They also have co-mingled, or single-stream, recycling bins in all public areas, guestrooms and employee areas.
Considering the vast amount of laundry a resort handles, Shannon Timmerman, CMP, Director of Sales, Wilderness Resort’s Glacier Canyon Lodge and Conference Center, notes their EcoWash™ Premier Ozone Laundry System as a major contributor to their sustainable efforts. It is energy efficient because it does not require hot water and reduces chemical and detergent use by 35% or more.
Kalahari Resorts also focus on water savings. Each guest room features low-flow shower heads, reducing water consumption by 2.5 million gallons per year. Their Ozone Laundry System allows for colder water wash and use of high-efficiency water consumption pumps in the park for extended life cycle. The kitchens also use low-flow dishwasher spray heads for energy efficient cleaning. In addition, Kalahari Resort, in Wisconsin Dells, features more than 4,160 square feet of rooftop solar panels. The panels work in conjunction with four 500-gallon storage tanks to assist with hot water needs and contribute to more than 30% of the resort’s hot water.
Going Beyond Turning The Lights Off
In regards to lighting, there are many new options available for resorts. Kalahari is using eco-friendly CFL & LED lighting in interior and exterior fixtures and motion sensor lights in public areas to maximize lighting efficiencies.
While sustainable efforts feel good, how do you translate the actual impact? David Sachs, Director of SMM Analytics, Meetings & Incentives Worldwide, Inc. is working to create this for their clients. “It’s real when you can put an actual value to your efforts, when you can say by reusing signs, printing locally, recycling badges, etc. it resulted in a specific dollar amount,” said Sachs.
Some planners already have tracking programs in place. “In addition to tracking the sustainability of our training venues, in fiscal year 2013 (FY13), we began tracking two sustainability metrics at each of our 25 live classroom trainings: water bottles saved by implementing a policy of only using pitchers of water and cups and paper saved by not printing trainers’ PowerPoint presentation handouts,” said Berg.
The bottom line? Green is good and will continue to get better. With the evolution of new technology and the creation of standards for planners and hotels, sustainable efforts will remain a priority in years to come.