Defending its position as an eco-friendly hospitality leader, Marriott’s University of Maryland University College Inn and Conference Center (UMUC ICC) announces its “green standards.” These standards are designed to allow meeting participants to have eco-friendly gatherings and help reduce their environmental impact. This announcement comes on the heels of Marriott International’s announcement last month of new eco-friendly meeting products and services that it will be rolling out later this summer.
The average three-day meeting at a Marriott hotel attended by 1,000 people produces more than 12 tons of trash, uses 200,000 kilowatts of power and consumes 100,000 gallons of water. “We believe these statistics can be changed through some innovative initiatives that we have put into place that are not seen in other hotels in our area,” says Michael McCarthy, general manger of Marriott’s UMUC ICC. “For instance, our composting program removes approximately 1,000 pounds of food waste from the trash stream a day. This waste is sent to a composting farm where it’s mixed with leaves and other natural matter to help it break down into soil rich in nutrients.”
Although others are talking green, Marriott UMUC ICC has built on its already existing eco-friendly policies. And this, it turns out, is not just good citizenship, but good business. According to a recent survey by Deloitte of 1,155 business travelers, 34 percent “seek out hotels that are environmentally friendly;” 38 percent have “researched green lodging facilities” and 28 percent said they would be willing to pay more to stay in a green lodging facility. And according to the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International, 43 percent of association meeting planners and 36 percent of corporate planners expect to hold a “green” meeting this year, and 73 percent of buyers say they “deliberately avoid destinations known to have poor environmental records.”
What is Marriott UMUC ICC doing to lead the change to “green” meetings? They use recycled note pads in meeting rooms, have reduced the use of bottled water, reduced the amount of linen used, have a vigorous on-site and guest room recycling program and compost about 1,000 lbs. of food waste a day. In their guest rooms the hotel has implemented a guest room linen and towel reuse program, installed water saving devices and eco-friendly lighting, utilize non-toxic cleaning agents, an environmentally friendly procurement policy, and unused guest shampoo or toiletries are donated to a local family emergency center. In food preparation, UMUC ICC uses reusable linens, dishes and cutlery, recycled products in the cafeteria, organic or locally grown produce as well as organic beer and liquor. To create and implement these ideas the hotel has established a hotel “green team” trained in environmental initiatives that bring the latest trends to the hotel.
Marriott’s UMUC made headlines as the nation’s first official “green” hotel when it was certified in 2005 by the US Green Building Council under its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. The hotel and the University are members of the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) and has pledged to reduce the University’s impact on the environment. Marriott UMUC continues to be proactive in making going “green” part of its daily business.