From left to right: Gary Bulson, Director of Engineering, Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa, Mike Sejman, Corporate Director of Engineering and Sustainability, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Alan Arakawa, Mayor of Maui, Rick Werber, Senior Vice President of Engineering and Sustainability, Host Hotels and Resorts, Allan Farwell, General Manager, Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa, Jeff Bedard, Managing Partner, Resort Energy Ventures
Maui resorts are going green. It’s not a matter of trend these days–instead, alternative energy and water saving devices are part of the bottom line. Capital investment is driving these decisions as much as any compelling environmental need.
The resorts have tackled carbon reductions in different and creative ways. Starwood brand has pledged participation in an environmental initiative they’re calling “30/20 by 20.” I asked Westin Maui’s Resort Sustainability Champion Sulinn Aipa what this means.
“In 2007, Starwood began collecting environmental data on all of its properties around the world,” says Aipa. “Two years later, the data became the baseline for Starwood’s landmark 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. Our guests are choosing hotel brands that reflect their desire to reduce the global footprint. The Westin Maui Resort & Spa has long been a champion of sustainability and we are excited to meet and exceed their expectations to ensure a successful future.”
Some of the creative programs for Westin Maui include offering guests Starwood points or dining credits for choosing to defer daily housekeeping services. Deferring services for even a single night saves nearly 40 gallons of water, plus electricity, natural gas and chemicals. The resort is also telling housekeepers that they can pocket five cents for every beverage bottle they recycle.
Duane Sparkman, the engineering and landscaping manager at Westin Maui, has streamlined water savings by using native drought resistant landscaping and pre-dawn watering. What’s more, he started a botanical tour of these native plants.
Even the food and beverage department has jumped into the effort. Executive Sous Chef Ikaika Manuku is offering sustainable menus bolstered by locally sourced and harvested ingredients and served in biodegradable containers. Manuku’s partnerships with local farmers extends to repurposing their food waste for pig food, and recycling 200 gallons of kitchen oil to Pacific Biodiesel.
For other resorts, innovation and investment–like the installation of photovoltaic energy panels–has been a priority.
“We are leading the movement in the resort industry for using a photovoltaic system to supplement our electricity use with renewable solar energy,” says Gary Bulson, Senior Engineer at Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa, in a recent press release. “Hyatt Regency Maui is one of the first resorts in Hawaii to install a system of solar panels of this size, making it one of the largest rooftop PV systems in the state of Hawaii. We are currently in the process of introducing a sustainability tour around our property that will better inform and increase awareness of the different areas that we are making sustainability advancements, including: water efficiency, ocean and reef protection, minimizing food waste, recycling, solar energy, interior air quality and green cleaning.”
The Hyatt expects to produce more that six percent of their electricity through their new solar system. The Fairmont Kea Lani is currently in the final steps of their 1,258 photovoltaic system that will launch in June. The Kea Lani is predicting a 10 percent offset of their current energy demand and a reduction of 457 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.
“Fairmont as a brand has a long history with the environment and going green,” says Charles Head, General Manager. “Back in the ’80s we published a Green Partnership Guide. It was a guide for going green in hotels, available for not just Fairmont, but any other hotels that had an interest. The Kea Lani has a passionate sustainability team in place ever since Fairmont took over the property. With the case of this photovoltaic project, it was looking at an initiative that was right for the environment but also provides a compelling business case, too. We wanted to make sure the solar system did not intrude on guests and our neighbors, so finding the location on the roof worked.”
In addition to the Fairmont Kea Lani’s 500-kilowatt solar installation, they’ve engaged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state Department of Land and Natural Resources to establish an Endangered Hawksbill Sea Turtle Dawn Patrol volunteer program. The resort’s self-empowered sustainability team walks nearby White Rock beach every morning throughout the 2016 nesting season, reporting tracks and nests.
The Hyatt also established a long term goal for greening the property. Housekeeping uses Ecolab cleaning products to reduce volatile organic compounds and protect staff health. The resort also retrofitted rooms with high efficiency shower heads to save more than 30 percent in water consumption. Hyatt has championed other efforts in irrigation, food waste recycling and protecting the ocean from runoff.
Senior Engineer Gary Bulson, a veteran of green initiatives, made them a focus for his career with Hyatt that began in 1973. He says the county and mayor played important roles in getting the photovoltaic job done.
“Mayor Alan Arakawa and the County of Maui have been extremely supportive in the sustainability efforts that we have been able to accomplish here at Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa,” he says. “From the participation of the Mayor himself at our LEED EBOM certification reception, to the photovoltaic system installation reception and the proclamation of Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa Malama ‘Aina Leadership Day on October 17, 2014 that recognized our efforts to increase waste diversion, energy efficiency and conservation, in addition to urging citizens to work toward keeping the island of Maui sustainable and environmentally-friendly for generations to come.”
Bulson emphasizes the best thing a resort can do long term for the environment is educate the staff, residents and visitors alike with their efforts.
“The largest impact that the resorts can have on our local communities are the sustainability efforts that continue to have a positive impact on our environment,” says Bulson. “Educating the staff and local residents about being environmentally conscious is another way that Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa supports the efforts of the community. Our next property feature to be installed is a Sustainability Tour that takes you on a self-guided tour around the property, highlighting the areas in which we focus sustainability efforts–Food & Food Waste, Water, Materials & Recycling, Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency, Ocean & Landscape, and Staff Training with signs attached.”