For this year’s Green Day I brought in keynote speaker, Jason F. McLennan, the darkest greenie to ever grace the stage of the Venetian conference room. McLennan told the emotional story of his own childhood, growing up in the town of Sudbury, Ontario, home to the world’s tallest smoke stack, and illustrated quite eloquently the both destructive and restorative power of design. He really drove home the responsibility bestowed on architects, designers, developers, and owners (Peter Parker’s father style) to build smarter buildings that are inspired by and appropriate for their surroundings. To that end, McLennan issued the Living Building Challenge to the hospitality industry (yes, this is pretty much why I brought him in) and I seconded it. The certification program, run by Cascadia Region Green Building Council (where McLennan is CEO), goes beyond LEED and into restorative design. Living buildings generate their own energy, depend entirely on harvested water (rain water) and recycled on-site water to meet water needs, and process their own waste. “This industry has extra responsibility because it interfaces with so many people,” said McLennan. “When people come to our hotels, they should leave transformed. We must go farther and faster than LEED Platinum.” If your hotel achieves this standard, I’ll go on record now saying you’re guaranteed at least 10 pages of coverage in an issue of HD (including a cover)…and probably the brand loyalty of pretty much the entire LOHAS demographic.
Next up was the Sustainable Suite, presented by USGBC with ASID, and NEWH. Raj Chandnani and Rhonda Rasmussen from WATG and Beau Trincia from IDEO presented their winning concept, the aptly named Haptik. Katie Rothenberg from the USGBC made her hospitality debut as the new Mark Heisterkamp, and with her real estate background and the Sustainable Suite splash at the show, made a pretty impressive debut all around. Judges Helen Jorgensen from Host and Eileen Slora from Fairmont rounded out the session, moderated by yours truly, and the conversation took an interesting twist from some of the suite’s innovations like moving the shower to the outside wall and making it a trombe wall, giving back one-third of the space to the outdoors, and irreverent messaging like “sex is better in eucalyptus sheets” (don’t quote me, but it was something to that effect), to the operational realities involved in putting some of these into action today. The suite was also built out of the show floor and looked amazing! Stay tuned to http://www.hdexpo.com for WATG designer Rashana Zaklit’s on-air debut (along with Katie Rothenberg…told you she was impressive) in the Sustainable Suite HD Live video.
Finally, Heather Gadonniex and JoAnna Abrams from MindClick SGM talked about the implications for purchasing decisions throughout the supply chain and showed how leaders in the industry are responding. Heather, a Green Day veteran (you may remember her from last year’s third-party product certification panel), and her partner JoAnna, went through a few really interesting case studies and discussed their full LCA, the Eco Scorecard, which Valley Forge Fabrics recently received high marks on (nice job Mikey and Diana!).
And last, but not least, I’d like to thank our sponsors, Simmons Hospitality Group and Lenzing. Steve Tipton from Simmons actually took his five minutes of fame at the luncheon to make a major announcement: all of the polyurethane foam varieties used in the company’s hotel mattress offerings have earned the CertiPUR-US® certification seal. “Today’s hotel guests, like all consumers, want to know that the everyday products they encounter meet strict environmental, health, and safety requirements,” said Tipton. “People have complete control over the items they use at home, but they must trust a hotel’s product selections while traveling. When a hotel features mattresses made with CertiPUR-US-certified foams in its rooms, it shows a concern for guest health and well-being that helps visitors rest easier—both literally and figuratively—during their hotel stay.” Very cool.
Thanks to all the attendees, and all the advocates with NEWH Sustainable Hospitality and other industry associations, we couldn’t do it without you.