Extended Stay America (ESA), owner and operator of 684 hotels across the United States and Canada, is more than half way through a renovation program that began in 2012 and is projected to be completed next year. As it has worked its way through each hotel, ESA has been faced with the challenge of finding what to do with old carpet, mattresses, box springs, bedding, lighting and other items. Through partnerships with suppliers, recyclers and various charities ESA has found a way to keep the “tired” items out of the landfill. So far, 25 million cubic feet of materials has been diverted, a volume ESA says is equivalent to 5.3 Titanic ships full of waste. More than 437,000 square feet of cardboard and more than 9 million square feet of carpet have been recycled, and 11.7 acres of fabric has been donated.
David Crider, Director of Utilities and Sustainability at Extended Stay America Hotels, says ESA’s sustainability efforts are an integral part of its corporate culture and operations. The recycling and donation program are evidence of ESA’s “sustainability philosophy in action.”
Ben Simmons, Facilities Project Manager for ESA, says the company’s renovation program is the first in its history and is touching almost every part of each ESA building—lobby, corridors, guestroom and exterior. “Waste” such as pallets are sent to companies for refurbishment and reuse. ESA works with carpet manufacturers that take used carpet for recycling. Simmons says the used carpet ends up at a plant in Georgia for recycling where it is shredded and ultimately made into new carpet.
All types of bedding—sheets, coverlets, comforters—are sent to local charities and so too are curtains. All mattresses and box springs that leave renovated hotels are recycled—the wood into mulch, the steel into reusable metal, the foam into carpet pad, and the cotton into insulation. Even light bulbs are donated to charities. More than 112,956 furniture pieces have been donated to Habitat for Humanity, The Salvation Army and hundreds of local charities. ESA also donated 27,933 pieces of artwork to local charities.
Showerhead, Lighting Upgrades
As part of the renovation process, hotels have been upgraded to be more energy and water efficient. Low flow showerheads were installed. More efficient lighting was installed indoors and also on the building’s exterior. Parking lot lighting is being upgraded to LEDs. In some cases T-12 lamps have been replaced with T-8s. Particular attention has been paid to PTAC/HVAC cleaning and maintenance.
“In 2014 Extended Stay America announced a partnership with Stem, Inc., to install its advanced energy storage systems across 68 locations to reduce energy usage during peak periods,” Crider says. “By drawing on previously stored power during peak times of the day, the batteries are designed to reduce Extended Stay America’s energy costs without any impact to the hotels’ daily operations. By reducing consumption during peak usage hours ESA helps generators more easily meet the grid load requirements as well as minimizing the need for investment in new generation assets.”
Crider adds that currently, Extended Stay America is exploring implementing a renewable energy pilot program at four hotels in California. As a first step, executives are currently reviewing proposals to add solar panels to roofs and parking canopies.
ESA hotels uses a third-party utility management system to track usage and spending associated with electricity, natural gas, alternate fuels (propane and fuel oil 2), and water/sewer. Currently individual hotel data is captured and reported via a web-based platform that is reviewed by the company on a monthly basis. Executives share usage and spending data with hotel management to show comparisons to other locations and encourage friendly competition among hotels to bring down usage, thus reducing costs. Crider says the utility management system has shown that renovated hotels are experiencing increased energy and water efficiency.
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Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.
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