ANNUAL GREEN HOTEL and GREEN INN AWARDS
The 2000 GREEN HOTEL and INN AWARDS PROGRAM will be the fifth year the PRHTA has offered this AWARD PROGRAM to its membership.
The GREEN HOTEL and GREEN INN AWARD PROGRAM was initiated in 1995 under the leadership of Pat Molther, long associated with the PRHTA and at the time an environmental consultant. The Program was based on a similar award program developed for the Caribbean Hotel Association in 1994 by the Caribbean Recycling Foundation. The first awards were given out in 1996 at the annual PRHTA Convention with only one Award for the Best Property. In 1997 there was a change to two Awards: one for the Green Hotel and the Most Improved Hotel with no distinction between the size of the property. In 1999, a separate award was created for the Hotel and Inn categories. The past winners were:
1996 Green Hotel The Fajardo Inn
1997 Green Hotel Caribe Hilton
Most Improved Lazy Parrot
1998 Green Hotel San Juan Marriott
Most Improved San Juan Grand
1999 Green Hotel Westin Rio Mar
Green Inn La Casa Grande
Participation started with 5 final applicants in 1996. In 1997 this number grew to 9 participants, 5 of which were repeats. 1998 saw a slight drop to 7 applicants, 5 of which were repeats, while 1999 involved 13 applicants and 4 repeats. The 2000 year participation continued this upward trend to 16 applicants with 8 repeats.
For 1996 there were only 60 questions. In 1997 this was increased to 85 and in 1999 the total number of questions was increased to 119.
The concept behind the awards program is to recognize those properties conducting their business in a manner that recognizes the importance of sustainable tourism through being environmentally friendly in all aspects of their operation.
The program seeks to create an awareness among member hotels of how being environmentally friendly can have a direct positive impact on their economic success and can also be a positive influence in increasing the attraction of guests to their facilities. Being a "green" property can also add "green" to the bottom line financial results.
While many hoteliers devote a great deal of attention to increasing revenues through increased sales, the idea of reducing expenses through implementing many of the practices promoted under the Green Hotel and Green Inn program often fails to receive the same attention.
During the review process, the Judges selected by PRHTA act very much like "bees" by cross-pollinating "green" ideas among the different participating properties. In this way, it is hoped that while participating in a competitive process, properties also participate in a learning experience.
Each year, the PRHTA Ecology Committee, this year Chaired by Maria Juncos, selects qualified Judges to undertake the task of evaluating those properties applying for the Award. Great care is taken to assure that no conflicts of interest exist between the participating judges and the properties to be reviewed. The Judges are strictly volunteers and receive no compensation whatsoever from the Properties nor the PRHTA with the exception that the PRHTA reimburses the Judges for any direct out of pocket expenses for travel to and from the properties to be reviewed.
The 2000 year judging team was comprised of the following people:
- PAT MOLTHER (Team Leader), Marketing Director of Jimmy Stevens Productions. Pat has many years of Hospitality Industry experience, was a founder of the Award Program and has served on the Ecology Committee and as a Judge since the inception of the Program. She also managed her own environmental consulting business for several years.
- MARIA A. JUNCOS GAUTIER, Executive Director for Community Development at the Metropolitan University School of Environmental Affairs. She also serves as Chairman of the PRHTA Ecology Committee.
This was Maria's first year as a Judge for the Program.
- RICARDO ARRUFAT, Corporate Coordinator for the AV Group Inc., an environmental technical services company. This was Ricardo's first year as a Judge for the Program.
- NICHOLAS APOSTOL, Chairman, Caribbean Recycling Foundation. He has been a member of the Judges Panel since the program's inception and developed the evaluation system used in the Award Program initially for the CHA as well as the current PRHTA Program.
- PEDRO REYES, Environmental Law attorney with Fiddler, Gonzalez & Rodriguez. This was Pedro's first year as a Judge for the Program.
- HANSEL MARRERO, Director of Sales for the Fuller Brush Group. This was Hansel's second year as a Judge for the Program.
- ORLANDO CABRERA, Environmental Law attorney with McConnell Valdes and this year serving his second term as a Judge for the PRHTA.
In addition, the Judges were accompanied by EMELY FIGUEROA, a graduating student at the Metropolitan University School of Environmental Affairs who has been doing her Thesis on the Composition of Solid Waste produced by Hotels.
With the support of the PRHTA liaison office supervised by Maria Ines Soto, the seven judges visited each property armed with a 119 question checklist covering 9 areas of property operations. The nine areas were as follows:
BACKGROUND - General and policy type issues
STEWARDSHIP - Involvement of the property in promoting environmental issues in the community and to its guests
HOUSEKEEPING - Practices followed in room and common area management
ADMINISTRATIVE - Practices followed in management and administration
MAINTENANCE - Practices followed in Engineering and property infrastructure
FOOD - Practices followed in the kitchen and food and Beverage operation
GROUNDS - Practices followed in the upkeep of the property grounds
LAUNDRY - Practices followed in the operation of the laundry
CONSTRUCTION - Practices followed during periods of construction
The Team determined those questions that apply to each property and noted those aspects applicable which each property was complying with. The overall results were noted as a percentage of replies being in the affirmative relative to the total of 119 possible items reviewed and also as a percentage of only those applicable to the individual property. A weighted system was then applied to reward those properties with the least amount of areas not applicable. The final weighted percentage results were then converted to points such that one point was granted for each percentage point achieved.
Since consistency overall is an important aspect of being a Green property, the participating properties were then ranked by each of the nine areas to determine those properties which received the most affirmative answers under each area and again to determine those properties which received the least negative responses under each area. The latter was done to diminish the impact to properties with a high number of non applicable questions. The properties received five points for each area in which they were a leader, two points for being a runner-up and one point for placing as a leader or a runner-up.
The total points amassed by each property in the three parts described above were totaled to determine the overall winner in each of the Hotel and Inn categories.
This year, the results were evaluated to determine if any significant trends might become apparent. Based on the "YES" answers provided by the properties to the 119 questions, it was found that STEWARDSHIP was the area most complied with by all properties achieving a 79% average between Inn and Hotel applicant properties. In this area of evaluation, the Inns clearly outpaced their Hotel counterparts by nearly 7 percentage points and reported an average 83% affirmative response.
The Hotel properties took the lead in reporting affirmatively in both the Maintenance and Laundry areas scoring a 76% and 56% respectively. Interestingly enough, the Hotels and Inns scored equally in the Administration category scoring 50% each. As expected, the larger properties generally had significantly fewer questions that were not applicable to their operation. Areas of least compliance by the applicants included In-room recycling, capture of rainwater, informing guests of environmental initiatives, written policies and procedures regarding environmental issues, use of alternatives to chlorine in pool sanitizing, obtaining Positive Disposition Certificates for recycled materials, use of natural or organic fertilizers, continued use of plastic laundry bags, use of scales to weigh laundry.
Finally, only a few Hotel properties had actively performed cost-benefit analysis on environmentally friendly practices to measure the impact on property income and expense and thereby justify to management the importance of being a Green Hotel. Virtually none of the Inns had undertaken such a study.
As a result of the review, the Judges have noted certain issues that may be worthy of more attention by the participating properties and possibly the PRHTA Membership as a whole. Some of these that have been noted include:
SENIOR MANAGEMENT INVOLVEMENT: Those properties with a strong General Manager support and encouragement generally perform better in their evaluations since performance tends to be more balanced throughout the 9 areas evaluated. Larger properties with a policy commitment and an active Green Team also reflect a better performance as can be seen by the results turned in by the 67% of the Hotel properties which do have a Green Team. In fact, it is most certain that the three leading Hotel properties owe much of their success to the very involved participation of their Green Teams and their combined scores equaled the combined scores of all the other six properties participating.
ENERGY MANAGEMENT: Most properties reviewed still do not appear to be taking all possible steps to reduce energy consumption. Even though such savings may appear counterproductive in cases where energy is purchased in bulk or on a contracted basis, it can lead to renegotiated and reduced energy purchase contract amounts. The concept that small savings add up in the end to large overall gains is still not entirely embraced. This is particularly the case in use of light bulbs where only 67% of the Hotels and 17% of the Inns had actively embarked on an aggressive program of bulb replacement. Nevertheless, several properties have documented significant energy reductions as a result of implementing such simple positive practices.
RECYCLING: Many properties have not embraced recycling as a simple means to reduce solid waste disposal and its attendant costs. There remains in some cases a lack of will to overcome the obvious shortfalls in recycling opportunities available from the government. Yet despite the difficulties, many properties are practicing some recycling, realizing savings and even increasing their recycling programs. An average of 47% of the Hotel properties were actively recycling while 50% of the Inns responded affirmatively to recycling efforts. The use of products more easily recyclable or in some cases reusable is also an area worthy of more attention by virtually every property given that an average of only 33% of the applicant properties had written policies covering this subject.
CLEANING CHEMICALS and SUPPLIES: There remains in general a lack of awareness among most properties as to available environmentally friendly supplies. Some aerosol products are still in use in 27% of the applicants despite many alternatives available in the market. Bulk cleaning chemicals offered by various suppliers should be the subject of strict scrutiny by each property not only to improve biodegradability but efficiency as well. Studies made by some properties produced surprising results and resulted in conversions from long standing suppliers to other suppliers providing products of improved performance and thereby cost effectiveness. The alternative methods available to pool maintenance are also largely unknown with only one property actively using an alternative system. The continued use of chlorine remains the preferred tool for sanitizing pools with 87% of Hotels using an automated system for application but only 17% of the Inns using such a process relying instead on manual powder chemical dispersion.
GUEST INVOLVEMENT: Many properties, both large and small, have directly involved their guests in offering reduced linen and towel changes and have documented significant savings with no loss of occupancy. However, only 33% of the Hotel property applicants reported affirmatively to questions regarding this issue while 83% of the Inns offered this alternative to their guests. All those offering these options reported significant savings. Some properties, particularly high end properties, feel such a policy is degrading to the level of service being offered. It should be remembered that high end properties attract high income individuals with a corresponding high level of education who are most likely to be environmentally aware and indeed ecologically conscientious thus being supportive and appreciative of such a policy. Nearly all properties while striving to implement a strong environmental policy internally, fail to advertise their efforts to their clientele much less invite their participation. Less than 20% of the participating properties reported an affirmative answer to receiving community recognition and involvement of their guests or informing their guests of their environmental initiatives.
WRITTEN POLICY: While general management implemented many environmentally sound procedures within their respective properties, very few have committed them to a written SOP or established written guidelines with corresponding benchmarks for compliance. Such actions allow for the institutionalizing of environmental practices rather than relying on individual personalities involved in management and their corresponding personal approach to the environmental issues concerned. Written policies lead to continuity in their application and serve as a basis for performance evaluation while reducing individual subjectivity. Affirmative responses to having written policies or procedures regarding environmental issues were received from an average of 30% of the participating properties.
WATER USE: Several properties, both large and small, have embraced the reuse of gray water with an average of 60% responding affirmatively. 83% of the Inn properties responded affirmatively while only 56% of the Hotel properties reused their gray water. However, the capture and use of rainwater remains at a minimum with 56% of the Inns and 11% of the Hotels pursuing this option. As the source of water becomes more of a problem and the costs associated with sewage treatment rise, properties should investigate more fully alternative waste water processing options available.
After evaluating each of the properties and tabulating the results, the Judges determined the winners for each of the Green Hotel Award and the Green Inn Award. The results revealed that the winning Hotel and winning Inn properties were coincidentally also the properties that received the highest and next highest scores overall among the fifteen participants when taken as one group.
GREEN INN AWARD WINNER for 2000: INN ON THE BLUE HORIZON, Vieques
This property stood out not only because it embodied so many of the environmentally friendly concepts addressed by the Program, but also because of the genuine commitment to these ideals by both management and staff. In its division, this property was either a Leader or a Runner-up in every one of the nine areas evaluated. The property also stood out for its outstanding commitment to the Community and Environmental Stewardship as well as attention to details despite so many hardships imposed by virtue of its location. This property had only 15% of the questions not applicable and turned in the second highest number of affirmative answers of all the properties evaluated.
Worthy of note as Runner-up this year was the performance of the LAZY PARROT, Rincon which participated for the fourth time and showed an improvement of 42% over its last evaluation done in 1998.
Finally, a special mention should be made of the notable improvement in the performance of PAPA ALBERTO'S RESORT which registered a 194% improvement over its 1999 year results.
GREEN HOTEL AWARD WINNER for 2000: WESTIN RIO MAR HOTEL, Rio Grande
Once again, this Property demonstrated the highest degree of compliance with Environmentally Friendly practices and remarkably increased its performance over last year by 6%. Significant in its performance was the implementation of its recycling program now including cardboard, glass (separated by color), paper, oil, aluminum and just beginning plastic containers. The results of this program have been carefully tracked and show a reduction in solid waste pickups to twice weekly from last year's five times a week average. Attendant savings have exceeded $80,000 in disposal costs as well as a small stream of income derived from the more than 50 tons of cardboard weekly , not to mention the $40 earned per ton of glass now being picked up by the waste hauler weekly. Also worthy of distinction are the more than $80,000 in bed linen savings resulting from this property's continuing implementation of the Alternative to sheets and towels changing policy offered its guests.
The Westin Rio Mar has been a consistent participant in the PRHTA Green Awards Program since 1997 and has demonstrated significant improvements each year. There is no doubt that this can be attributed to one of the best Green Teams on the island that enjoys strong support and leadership from general management. It has been a consistent leader in all of the 9 areas evaluated and in overall points scored came out nearly 15% higher than its closest rival achieving a score of 84% of the maximum possible. While this performance is laudable, it shows that even as the leader it still has room for improvement and additional cost savings.
The runner-up property this year was the Hyatt Cerromar which showed a 38% improvement in its performance over that of last year. The other properties in the Hotel category worthy of note were the Ritz Carlton and the San Juan Marriott , both achieving excellent results and once again demonstrating the benefits of a strong Green Team.
FINAL STANDINGS BY TOTAL POINTS ACCUMULATED:
Westin Rio Mar 174
Hyatt Cerromar 152
San Juan Marriott 116
Ritz Carlton 97
Ponce Hilton 88
Windham El Conquistador 87
Embassy Suites 46
Inn on the Blue Horizon 155
Lazy Parrot 122
Horned Dorset Primavera 108
Papa Alberto Resort 83
Amapola Inn 68
Bahia Salinas 62
The Awards Program should be continued and perhaps Certificates of Accomplishment could be added for those Properties excelling in each of the nine areas being judged as well as those properties demonstrating significant improvement in repeat evaluations.
It might also be of value to initiate an Ecology Certification Standard which would be granted to all properties achieving a minimum of for example 75 Points Overall in the evaluation. All properties within the PRHTA Membership would be encouraged to apply and a fee could be charged based on the number of rooms in a property to offset the cost of a full-time evaluator to perform annual checks for validation and revalidation. The evaluation could be subcontracted by PRHTA or done in-house. This would be somewhat similar to the CAST (Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism) program implemented by the CHA (Caribbean Hotel Association) but be more specifically oriented to Puerto Rico issues and circumstances.
Further effort needs to be undertaken to increase participation by more properties within the PRHTA Membership. The benefits of environmentally friendly practices should be emphasized over the contest and award aspects so that the program is seen as a management tool to improve bottom line performance as opposed to a competition for obtaining of an award.
Finally, participating Properties should be informed in writing of noncompliance issues found during the evaluating process so that each can work on improvements. This will be of particular importance if a Certification Standard Program is implemented for PRHTA Member properties.
ATTACHMENTS (available separately)
1. QUESTIONNAIRE ANSWERS COMPARISON
2. POINT CALCULATIONS and FINAL RESULTS
3. OVERALL RAW RESULTS, WEIGHTED RESULTS, and IMPROVEMENT ANALYSIS
4. LEADERSHIP RESULTS BY AREA IN "YES" ANSWERS
5. LEADERSHIP RESULTS BY AREA IN "NO" ANSWERS
6. EXAMPLES OF ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY PRACTICES
AT PARTICIPATING PROPERTIES