How do business hotels become greener? Boston’s Seaport Hotel may have valuable insight

By Dian Hasan | October 8, 2009

Seaport Hotel Boston-Biodiesel Truck

Seaport Hotel Boston's Biodiesel Truck

As with everything in life, there’s real and imaginary, there are real people doing real work, and those who only talk about it. The same rule applies to businesses, it’s important to identify companies who are not only successful (read: profitable, and doing their share in creating employment and help move the economy) but are also doing good. This is nothing new, but today there’s an upward trend of “businesses with a heart”. And this is a positive mindset that is spreading across all industries, including Hospitality.

meetingspodcast-green-meetingsSo when it comes to the “hot” area of “being green”, or rather “becoming green” in hotels, many in the industry ask themselves the hard question: “How exactly do I do this? The area is so new, and we’re unsure whose standards/goals to aim for!”. There are of course a myriad of ways to become more responsible, for the sake of the environment, community, flora and fauna, etc. As there are as many professional consultants ready to teach you… and certify you… for a fee. The greatest challenge is to find which consultant.

Separating the wheat from the chaff is, after all, a very tedious process.

Therefore it’s a breath of fresh air to find Hotels that have already put all of this into action. And into such detail, it could serve as a template of the many different areas of the business where “going green resulting in a quantifiable difference” can be identified. The Seaport Hotel in Boston, is one shining example. Forbes Traveler publication named them one of America’s greenest hotels in 2008, and they’ve collected a few other awards. Enjoy the read (as appeared in Boston Seaport Hotel’s official Press Release).

Even big business hotels can take a green initiative and make a difference to their bottom line. Photo: Guest Room at Seaport Boston Hotel

Even big business hotels can take a green initiative and make a difference to their bottom line. Photo: Guest Room at Seaport Boston Hotel

The Seaport Hotel Green Initiative — Seaport Saves

Seaport Saves is a groundbreaking environmental program dedicated to increasing sustainability and conservation throughout all aspects of the organization. This philosophy allows us to continually source and execute innovative ways to improve our operation in an environmentally responsible manner. We encourage our guests, team members, and vendors to embrace and practice an environmentally sensitive lifestyle as well. It is possible to coexist in a delicate balance with the natural world while providing world class service in a luxurious setting.

In the News

We are proud members of Boston Green Tourism and the Green Hotels Association. Seaport has joined the US EPA WasteWise Program, a voluntary program through which organizations eliminate costly municipal solid waste. WasteWise is a flexible program that allows partners to design their own waste reduction programs tailored to their needs.

Smoke-Free Since 1998
Seaport Boston prides itself on being one of the first hotels to offer guests a completely smoke- free environment.

Breathe Easy
The award-winning Seaport Hotel recently introduced four allergy-friendly rooms, in an effort to provide travelers with allergies or asthma peace of mind while visiting Seaport. Every surface within these guest rooms has been professionally treated to minimize irritants, contaminants and odors, allowing the rooms to be certified hypoallergenic and friendly to those with respiratory illnesses. The Seaport Hotel is the second property in Massachusetts to provide allergy-friendly rooms for guests sensitive to irritants.

Cleaning Green
Seaport uses cleaning fluids produced by an Electrolyzed water system. This system combines tap water, salt and electricity (both a positive and negative electrical charges) to create two cleaning products: a chemical-free sanitizer (hypochlorous acid) and a neutral cleaner (sodium hydroxide). These green cleaning fluids are currently used throughout Seaport.

Ozone Laundry
System Seaport recently installed the Ozone System, which uses high voltage electricity to split oxygen atoms (O2) into a highly unstable grouping of 3 oxygen atoms called “ozone gas.” This man- made chemical transformation also happens in nature and helps to clean the atmosphere of pollutants. When ozone gas is injected into a laundry wash cycle, it acts as a powerful oxidizing, cleaning, and bleaching agent.

Ozone gas is able to better penetrate fibers, allowing for use of less chemicals and providing a faster and more intense cleaning. This leads to reductions in wash cycles and will reduce the amount of chemicals, hot water, and electricity Seaport uses. Other added benefits include longer product life due to reduced washing cycles and therefore, reduced exposure to chemicals.

Environmentally-Friendly Water Treatment System
Seaport has implemented the Grander® Technology treatment system in our pool, becoming the first hotel in the U.S. to use the chlorine-reducing solution. This system conditions water through its structure enhancing processes. The molecular structure of this water stimulates beneficial bacteria growth while simultaneously limiting the development of pathogenic populations. This enhances the swimming experience by reducing skin and eye irritation.

Seaport Yearly Recycle Rate of 44 Percent, 201 Tons of Material
In partnership with Capital Paper, a division of Mass Hauling, the Seaport Hotel recycles white paper, newspaper, plastic, glass, aluminum, and cardboard.

Local Produce
Seaport purchases seasonal produce from four local farmers, two of which are completely organic. Verrill Farm, in Concord, MA, supplies fresh greens, herbs and vegetables, while Pio Angelini, in Somerville, MA, provides Seaport’s berries and vegetables. Seaport also plants its own herb and vegetable garden for use in Aura’s fragrant dishes. Buying locally helps reduce transportation emissions and supports local businesses. Seaport is also a member of Chefs Collaborative, a national network of chefs, producers, educators, and food lovers working to build a more sustainable food supply.

In-Room Conservation Efforts

  • Hotel guests have the option to reuse towels and bed linens instead of having them changed daily. In 2007, this conservation program enjoyed a 25% average participation rate, which saved 585,000 gallons of water. In one year, the amount of laundry processed was reduced by 219,000 pounds. Less laundry translates to a huge reduction in the amount of steam and electricity needed.
  • Hotel guests have the opportunity to participate in Seaport’s in-room recycling program, the first initiative of its kind in Boston.
  • Thermo-glass windows in guest rooms and public spaces further conserve energy by diffusing upwards of 70% of the sun’s radiant energy.
  • The flat screen TVs that were installed in every guest room were a part of Phillips EcoVision initiative that are RoHS compliant [severely restricting the amount of lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants to safe levels] and use SmartPower which uses up to 50% less energy to other television sets.

Partner with other Environmentally Friendly Organizations
Gilchrist & Soames, which provides Seaport’s guest room amenities, pursues ecologically friendly practices in all aspects of product creation, from packaging and ingredients to sourcing and manufacturing.

Renewable Energy Credits
In 2008, Seaport purchased enough renewable energy credits to offset the electricity used to power all 426 of our guest rooms, 13 guest floors and operation of our 4 guest elevators for the entire year. This investment allows us to reduce the amount of green house gas the hotel generates while helping to promote and subsidize the renewable energy sector of our economy.

These renewable energy certificates from Renewable Resources are a combination of renewable power generated from wind, solar, biomass, and hydro plants across the country.

Energy Conservation Reduces Electricity Usage

  • A “smart thermostat” system, developed by Inncom, was installed in guestrooms during the first quarter of 2006. This “smart” control allows for the conservation of electricity in conjunction with the building’s heating and cooling system, reducing electricity needed by 14 percent.
  • The Seaport Hotel employs a capacitor bank to assist with the load shedding of electricity within the hotel. This “smart” meter and its associated sensors monitor multiple zones during peak energy usage periods in the hotel and reduce the electricity needed by 10-20 percent.
  • Motion sensors installed in housekeeping linen closets allow the lighting system to shut off when no motion is detected after 30 seconds.
  • Energy-conserving, compact fluorescent bulbs have been installed in all guest rooms and public space fixtures. This includes Seaport Garage and Seaport World Trade Center. A total of 2,012 fixtures were replaced throughout both buildings. These efficiency bulbs last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs and use 82 percent less energy. This retrofit alone is estimated to save 670,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity. Seaport also recycles these compact fluorescent bulbs to ensure Mercury isn’t released into the environment.

Energy-Smart Roof Systems

  • All buildings on the Seaport World Trade Center campus utilize a Sarnafil Energy Smart Roof system designed to reduce atmospheric heat and conserve energy.
  • The World Trade Center East Podium, one of the buildings on the campus, has a green roof that uses a non-irrigated 5-inch deep pre-vegetated mat which contains sedum plants. This eco- friendly roof offers many long-term benefits, which include reducing pollution and building energy costs and conserving natural resources.

Energy-Conscious Employees
Members of Seaport’s Engineering Management team are currently in a six-month intensive re-education class designed specifically to enhance building operators’ ability to harness energy and implement water conservation measures.

Seaport Hotel Boston-Biodiesel Truck

Seaport Hotel Boston's Biodiesel Truck

Renovations & Recycling

  • Seaport’s soft goods renovation, completed February 2006, replaced carpeting, drapes, linens, and wall coverings in the guest rooms. With the assistance of DuPont and Capital Paper, the renovation team recycled 55.57 tons, all 16,495 square yards, of carpet that was removed. The 436 sets of drapes and sheers, 423 desk chairs, and 846 occasional chairs were liquidated by Global FF&E of Merrimack, NH.
  • To further limit unnecessary waste in the renovation, all of the wood in guestrooms – desks, nightstands, accent tables, and luggage benches, were refinished as opposed to being replaced.
  • Seaport recycles cooking oil with a local Massachusetts company – Wachusett Biodiesel. The reclaimed cooking oil is recycled and turned into biodiesel. This alternative energy reduces green house gas emission by upwards of 50 percent, in comparison to traditional diesel. In collaboration with our friends in Boston Green Tourism, our recycling effort comes full circle, as our waste oil helps to power the Saunders Hotel Group’s biodiesel fleet.

Green Wedding Package
Seaport’s new Green Wedding Package allows brides and grooms to honor their commitment to the environment while celebrating their commitment to each other. The package features an array of environmentally sensitive elements including:

  • Customized seasonal menu showcasing a selection of hors d’oeuvres, entrees and desserts made with fresh and local organic ingredients
  • A private menu planning session with Chef Richard Rayment
  • An organic and custom designed wedding cake by Executive Pastry Chef Joanne Gregory;
  • Soy-based votive candles, potted plants, orchids and silk trees to decorate the ballroom of your choosing
  • Contribution to the New England Wind Fund to offset the electricity used during the wedding.

Recognizing the value of open space, the Seaport World Trade Center complex features 2.1 acres of park land throughout the campus – 11 percent of the entire property. Eastport Park and the Plaza Gardens have quickly become a valuable amenity and oasis for guests and neighbors.

Complimentary Bicycles for Guests
When it comes to reducing our carbon footprint, two wheels are better than four. Seaport guests are encouraged to utilize complimentary adult and children’s bicycles to tour the city green-style. Bike maps to Castle Island and the South Boston beachfront are also provided.

Public Transportation
Seaport Companies encourages their employees to ride public transportation and subsidizes 50 percent of commuting costs. This is in addition to a partnership with Seaport TMA, which offers carpool and walk or bike to work programs.

Alternative Transportation
In order to promote car sharing and environmentally friendly transportation options, Seaport has developed a partnership with Zipcar. Employees and guests who have Zipcar memberships now have easy access to six vehicles located in the Seaport Garage. This initiative helps to reduce green house gas emissions, free up green space typically used for parking and alleviate urban congestion.

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4 Responses to How do business hotels become greener? Boston’s Seaport Hotel may have valuable insight

  1. Helen says:

    Paper production is the second largest contributor to climate change. It’s really great to recycle paper — but also important to use 100% postconsumer recycled paper. Or, treefree paper. I still haven’t seen enough business ID use of 100% post consumer papers. Won’t it be wonderful when half the paper made and used is made from post harvest waste. (Paper has only been made out of trees for 125 years.)

    Thanks for this great article Boston Seaport is doing a really great job. And they may be using 100 PC paper, but if not, that would help too.

  2. Pingback: How do business hotels become greener? Boston’s Seaport Hotel may have valuable insight | News|Blog|Video | DATA.BOOKCOST.NET

  3. Pingback: How do business hotels become greener? Boston’s Seaport Hotel may have valuable insight | Boston Travel - Culture and Recreation

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