March 20 2013

How Corporate America Can Save The Planet: One Building at a Time

How can we encourage businesses to make the commitment towards sustainable building practices? Well, to start, at the very least, by showing them the savings that they could make if they invested in green design and technology for their business. Embassy Suites in South Lake Tahoe has this right idea in mind. The second largest Embassy Suites in the country, it serves as a perfect business model of how corporations can invest in green building, save thousands in operating costs, and enhance their public image in the process.

Embassy Suites South Lake Tahoe

In 2008, chief engineer David Hansen went to the owners of the South Lake Tahoe’sEmbassy Suites with a proposition. He asked for $200,000 to invest in energy efficiency programs and guaranteed that in two years he would be able to repay the investment through energy savings. Only seven months later he had already earned back the initial investment, and was given the okay to expand and continue his work, saving the hotel thousands of dollars annually.

Some of the environmental initiatives his team implemented include:

  • Passive infra-red and motion detectors which turn on/off heating and cooling installed in all suites;
  • A hotel-wide recycling program that earns enough revenue bi-weekly to enable the hotel to switch to plant-based products and limit the use of plastic;
  • Efficient light fixtures installed throughout the hotel, including LED lights on all exit signs;
  • An Ozone Laundry Cleaning System which cuts cycle time significantly, saving energy and using less water.

Embassy Suites South Lake Tahoe

Perhaps the program Mr. Hansen feels strongest about is reducing the hotels food waste. After months and months of working with local waste management officials to coordinate this effort, Embassy Suites began a composting program, reducing their trash compactor take away four to one. The hotel’s employees are key to the success of this environmental initiative and others, and take pride in working for a business that has made the commitment to reducing its impact on the environment. This basic composting program and other environmental programs can be replicated elsewhere with just a little investment and faith that businesses can make a difference.

Embassy Suites South Lake Tahoe

What do you think is the biggest challenge for businesses when they consider investing in green building design?

Credits: Photographs by Alex Riemondy. Data linked to sources.

Alex Riemondy

Alex Riemondy is a recent graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Environmental Studies, and a Certificate in Urban and Regional Planning. Her interests in urban planning first stemmed from a cross-country bicycle trip in support of affordable housing. During the trip she became fascinated with connecting communities through the development of safe cycling routes. On a bike, she is constantly thinking about her urban environment and how it can grow to meet the needs of her community. Although currently living in Hummelstown, PA - having recently returned from working on a permaculture farm in Costa Rica - she plans to pursue a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning in Southern California. Finding happiness through connecting with her community and environment, she is most interested in improving citizen quality of life though: bicycle and pedestrian planning, green street design, and increasing citizen participation in the planning process.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 20th, 2013 at 9:56 am and is filed under Energy, Environment, Environmental Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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