The post is reprinted with permission from the International Energy Alliance. The author of this post, Yiyin Zhong from China, has been in the International Study Abroad program offered through Hunter Programs Education Services for the past five years and is now a high school senior. She has excelled in her studies at her high school, and in college classes taken outside high school. Additionally, she has participated in numerous outside activities, including many through the International Energy Alliance where she has been a contributing member for several years.
As a student interested in hospitality and hotel management, and as a longtime member of the IEA, it seemed to me that Marriott recognizes that one of the most pressing concerns around the world today is energy conservation. Evidence of this can be found in the great effort Marriott has gone through in order to LEED certify many of its hotels. So, when an opportunity arose for me to learn more by interviewing a high ranking Marriott official in Texas, I decided a trip to Texas to learn more about the Marriott’s serious dedication to solving energy issues in its hotels would be very exciting.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with LEED certification, “LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. To receive LEED certification, building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification. Prerequisites and credits differ for each rating system, and teams choose the best fit for their project.”
Energy conservation is possible at the consumer level, by enacting measures such as turning off the lights when you exit a room, or unplugging electrical sources that are not currently in use; however, when this is expanded to include commercial businesses (such as hotels), the gains are even greater. Energy efficiency can bring increased financial capital, improve environmental quality, and reduce energy costs. Industrial and commercial users can increase energy efficiency to maximize their profit. For more fantastic information on how it now makes sense from a financial standpoint for companies to change their energy use, please read The Quest and One Bold Vision.
In Texas, I met with Al Beams, the Director of Engineering of the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center owned by Marriott, who was happy to provide examples of how the hotel is already making this a top priority. Gaylord Texan Resort is working to achieve LEED certification in this year (2014) by running a massive recycling program that reuses everything from pallets, light bulbs, and batteries, to paper, metal, and glass. Marriott was the first major hotel company in the U.S. to design and construct a LEED-certified hotel in 2005. The company is devoted to protecting the environment and reducing energy consumption reducing and diverting waste by implementing low-energy light bulbs, using showerheads that use less water, and biodegradable laundry bags. For reducing electric energy use, the hotel will shut down the air conditioner in the lobby at midnight each night, when the heat is least likely to bother its guests. Marriott also encourages sustainability in their kitchens through actions such as purchasing organic and responsibly sourced food. If other businesses adopted the same model as the Marriott standard, the world would see a significant reduction in its energy consumption.
As there are a finite number of resources available to support the ever-increasing global population, the importance of energy conservation cannot be exaggerated; energy conservation refers to ways that reduce energy consumption, conserve resources, and reduce pollution to the environment. This is possible through improving energy efficiency, reducing energy consumption, or reducing the consumption of traditional energy sources. This is a goal of the International Energy Alliance that we hope to spread through increased awareness.