Earth Day is a call to action motivating individuals and companies to do what they can to protect and improve the planet. From beach cleanups and tree planting projects to installing green roofs or solar panels, much can be done.
Here are five sustainability projects that are making a difference in various communities. Let us know what you and your company are doing to positively impact the planet!
Beach Cleanup in Hawaii
The Westin Maui Resort & Spa is located on beautiful Ka‘anapali Beach in Maui. The resort, which features 759 guest rooms and a total of 67, 391 sq. ft. of indoor/outdoor meeting space, recently won an Excellence in Sustainability award from Maui No Ka ‘Oi Magazine. The property is committed to sustainability through a variety of Malama Ka Aina I Ke Kai (care for the land and the ocean) projects.
In celebration of Earth Day, the resort recently organized a beach cleanup to remove trash and debris from Ka’anapali Beach. It is also actively pursuing many green initiatives. It is participating in Starwood’s environmental initiative 30/20 by 20, which calls for a 30 percent reduction in energy use and a 20 percent reduction in water consumption per built hotel room globally by 2020.
Recent capital improvements at the property include LED lighting and mechanical system upgrades. Restaurant menus support local farmers and eschew threatened seafood, and sustainable landscaping practices include composting green waste, installing rain gardens and using reef-friendly fertilizers.
Tree Planting Project in Texas, Colorado and California
Citywide conferences and exhibitions can be responsible for significant greenhouse gas emissions. While efforts can be made to conserve energy and fuel, it is difficult to achieve a zero carbon footprint.
As the world’s largest scientific society and an organization committed to addressing climate change, the American Chemical Society (ACS) Meetings & Expositions Department stepped up to the challenge of measuring, reducing and mitigating its meeting carbon footprint.
Washington DC-based sustainability consulting firm Greenview applauds the group, which established a carbon offsetting, tree-planting partnership with American Forests. Since 2014, ACS has offset the equivalent of the annual emissions of 251 passenger vehicles by planting more than 5,700 trees in the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Texas; the Rio Grande National Forest in Colorado; and Sierra National Forest in California. In 2015, ACS offered attendees an option to fund the planting of a tree for $1 during the registration process. More than 2,100 attendees participated in this initiative on its first launch.
Solar Powering Las Vegas
With dozens of hotels and a lively Strip that has neon signs blinking 24/7, the city of Las Vegas consumes a huge amount of energy. It also boasts near constant sunshine, making it a prime candidate for solar energy. Three of the city’s largest casino operators, (MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands Corp.) which account for 15 collective properties, have announced intentions to switch to renewable solar energy.
Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino is owned by MGM Resorts. As part of a major redesign and expansion project, solar panels are currently being installed on the roof of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Covering more than 28 acres, the combined array will be one of the largest rooftop solar arrays in the country, and will generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 1,300 homes.
Over the years, MGM Resorts has been a leader in sustainability. In addition to the solar panels, the company is replacing 1.3 million light bulbs in its properties with more energy efficient LEDs. Mandalay Bay and its Convention Center, which hold Five Key ratings from the Green Key Eco-Rating and Meetings Programs and have been awarded Gold status in TripAdvisor’s GreenLeaders program, recycle more than 80 percent of convention materials.
Green Roof in Nashville
Music City Center is a premier exhibition and convention center in Nashville, Tennessee. The 2.1 million-square-foot building features a 353,143-square-foot exhibit hall, 57,500-square-foot grand ballroom and 90,000 sq. ft. of meeting room space spread across 60 breakout rooms.
A sustainability champion, the LEED Silver certified building boasts a high-efficiency HVAC system, 360,000-gallon rainwater collector and 845 solar panels. What may be most impressive, however, is its four-acre green roof.
Designed to mimic the rolling hills of Tennessee, it is the largest green roof in the Southeast. It contains 14 different types of vegetation and a waterproofing membrane. It helps reduce energy usage by absorbing heat and acting as an insulator to reduce the amount of energy needed to provide heating and cooling to the facility. The vegetation on the roof provides a natural habitat for plants, insects and wildlife that would otherwise have limited space in an urban environment. Four hives house more than 100,000 honeybees.
A Collective Effort in NYC
New York City used to be considered one of the more polluted cities in the nation. That is changing, as Big Apple hotels unite in a pledge to go green. The New York Times reports that 17 properties, representing a combined total of more than 11,000 guest rooms, have joined the NYC Carbon Challenge, a program launched in 2007 by former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Participants include high profile properties such as Waldorf Astoria New York, Grand Hyatt New York, 1 Hotel Central Park, Loews Regency New York, The Westin New York at Times Square and the Peninsula New York, all of which are committed to trimming greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30 percent over the next decade.
New York’s Go Green initiative originated with city universities, followed by hospitals, commercial office buildings and multifamily residences. In late 2015, current Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that hotels would join the crusade. The ambitious goal is to reduce citywide greenhouse emissions 80 percent by 2050.
According to Nilda Mesa, director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, buildings are responsible for nearly 75 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the Big Apple. Getting the cooperation of the hospitality industry could help reduce emissions by more than 32,000 metric tons and save $25 million in energy operating costs. To gain support, Mesa’s office worked with the Hotel Association of New York City, a trade group that represents 275 hotels in the city. The association hopes to encourage more hotels to join the program.