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HEI Hotels & Resorts (HEI), a Norwalk, CT-based private owner/operator of hotel real estate, has received the Corporate Energy Management award from the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE). This award from AEE is presented to companies and individuals who make important strides in energy conservation, sustainability efforts, and/or products.
HEI acquires, develops, owns, and operates full-service hotels and resorts throughout the U.S. under such brand names as Marriott, Sheraton, Westin, Le Meridien, Embassy Suites, and Hilton. Upon receiving the award in December 2009, the company joined Toyota, General Motors, U.S. Postal Service and McDonald’s as past winners of the AEE award.
“Since launching our energy management programs in 2005, HEI has invested more than $6.5 million in energy related capital improvements to its portfolio of full service, upper scale and luxury hotels and resorts throughout the U.S.,” said Gary Mendell, HEI’s chairman and chief executive officer. “Those initial capital upgrades already are resulting in more than $2 million in annual energy savings, and we continue to explore and implement additional programs. In 2009, we launched the ‘Energy Looking Glass (ELG)’, a proprietary energy monitoring dashboard, which maximizes our energy use across the portfolio. HEI firmly believes that not only is sustainability important for the welfare of the planet, but also can yield meaningful cost savings for companies who invest wisely.”
The company has set additional benchmarks for further energy and waste reduction for 2010. HEI plans to reduce energy consumption companywide by 5% in the coming year by continuing its 2009 programs targeting operational awareness and conservation. While 2009 focused largely on the efforts of its general managers and chief engineers, new programs will be added to include executive chefs, executive housekeepers, and banquet managers. Additionally, the company is in the planning stages to renovate an existing hotel to achieve LEED-EB certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
Facilities Department Actions
“To achieve true success in sustainability, however, we knew we would have to get our associates engaged and motivated to help,” added Bob Holesko, VP of facilities. “At the beginning of 2009, we began a competition amongst our hotels, divided by brand. Prizes ranging from gift cards to flat screen televisions were awarded to hotel associates for reductions in energy usage, assisting the $1 million in energy savings from our ELG program. Through October, we have observed a reduction in consumption of approximately 8% to 2008, irrespective of additional monetary savings experienced through decreases in energy rates.”
In an effort to further empower associates to get involved, HEI launched a social responsibility program in September 2009. Entitled “We CARE,” the program focuses on four parts: Communities, Associates, Relationships and Environment. The company will embark on “E(nvironment)” programs this year, focusing on trash & recycling programs to determine what can be done to reduce waste and improve recycling.
“While a number of companies give lip service to sustainability efforts, HEI has implemented meaningful programs to reduce the carbon footprints of its hotel portfolio,” said Richard G. Lubinski, regional chapter president of the AEE and president of Think Energy Management LLC. “Other hospitality companies can learn from their success – HEI has proven that ‘going green’ can result in meaningful gains to the bottom line.”