With all of the sustainability efforts taking place within the construction and real estate industries, associated companies are inquiring about the best possible methods to make a difference for the environment, their clients and future generations. This effort is exemplified by Hyatt Hotels Corporation, a Chicago-based hospitality company with widely recognized, industry-leading brands and a tradition of innovation developed over a nearly 60-year history.
Hyatt develops, owns, manages, licenses and provides services to a portfolio of properties, consisting of full-and select-service hotels, resorts and other properties. The company sets an example of incorporating sustainability and green building into the hospitality industry. “At Hyatt, we are in the business of caring for people so they can be their best,” says Brigitta Witt, head of corporate responsibility for Hyatt. “We create an environment for people to thrive by building strong communities and fostering a sustainable planet.”
As early as 1990, Hyatt began collecting data on water and energy consumption, starting with full-service hotels in North America. The company launched its first web-based database in 2002, taking another step forward in elevating the importance of data to improve sustainability performance by monitoring utility consumption. Today the utility and sustainability database, named Hyatt EcoTrack, is used by Hyatt Hotels globally and as of 2015 includes franchise hotel participation.
In addition to utility data, EcoTrack measures greenhouse gas emissions, waste and recycling, efficiency initiatives, hotel conservation plans and more. With a range of graphs and tables, it plays a critical role in colleague engagement, implementing long-term sustainability initiatives and working toward reduction goals.
As Hyatt’s business grows to meet the needs of a more connected world in which more people than ever are traveling, the company is taking steps to ensure that it continues to grow responsibly. With its corporate responsibility platform, Hyatt Thrive, the company is translating its commitment into a shared vision and common focus through four pillars: environmental sustainability, education and career readiness, economic development and investment and health and wellness.
Hyatt Thrive is built on the understanding that through actions large and small, Hyatt will have an impact on the lives of people and the communities it affects. “By setting goals, measuring progress and working across these areas, we aim to make a tangible impact within and beyond the walls of our hotels,” says Tony Spata, director of building systems of Americas for Hyatt. Not only is environmental stewardship the right thing to do, but it also makes sense for the long-term sustainability of our hotels.”
Foresight is 2020
With a long-term strategic approach, Hyatt has established its 2020 Environmental Sustainability Vision. “Hyatt plans to achieve significant reductions in utilities, water, greenhouse gas emissions and waste,” Spata explains. “The methods of achieving this will involve using resources thoughtfully, building smarter and innovating and inspiring others to do the same.”
In support of its 2020 Vision, Hyatt is working with third-party consultants to generate an energy model based on a recent hotel built in the United States. “We will create a computer model replicating that unit and then calibrate it and see how it reacts around different parts of the world,” says Spata. “Once we see how it reacts in different climatic conditions, we will develop our energy efficiency upgrade packages to adjust accordingly.”
Incorporating its green initiatives across the country and the globe, Hyatt recently opened its Park Hyatt New York Hotel in Manhattan. The hotel sits on West 57th Street across from Carnegie Hall. While the hotel did not achieve LEED certification, the facility was built with energy efficiency measures in place and was certified as “green” by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Due to its location in New York City, the Park Hyatt is on the radar of Consolidated Edison’s steam system. In an effort to maximize energy production resulting from the steam supply, the Park Hyatt includes a steam turbine that is able to generate electricity from the conversion of high-pressure to low-pressure steam entering the building. “We have to drop the pressure anyway, so we’re using the turbine to not only drop the pressure, but also generate electricity,” Spata explains. “That’s one of the ways we’ve maximized energy efficiency at the hotel. There is also an emphasis on LED lighting and ventilation controls.” In March 2016, the company is also opening a facility in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which is seeking to achieve LEED-Gold certification.
Green building affects all industries
Spata says that the recent LEED v4 version of the LEED green building program is motivating the hospitality industry to achieve LEED certification. “With a hotel, you have a combination of an apartment building, a restaurant, a recreational facility and a convention center,” Spata elaborates. “It’s all about finding a balance between maintaining the luxury aspect of a resort and not being wasteful.”
Moving forward, Hyatt has made a commitment that all future wholly owned full-service hotels will be developed to meet LEED or equivalent certifications. For managed hotels, the company is compiling a core set of sustainability measures that will be incorporated into its standards and tailored to its three geographical divisions: the Americas, Europe/Africa/ Middle East/Southwest Asia and Asia-Pacific.
The cornerstone of Hyatt’s commitment to responsible business practices is displayed in the passion its employees express for Hyatt Thrive and the company’s 2020 sustainability Vision. To foster continuous innovation, the company will select hotels to pilot innovative approaches to sustainable operations that may have wider applicability across its property portfolio.
By setting an example in the industry, Hyatt Hotels will engage owners in its commitment to sustainable operations through among other things, its sustainable design guidelines, data tracking and advancing best practices.
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