More and more, global travel companies are working diligently to mitigate their business impact on the natural environment while saving money, energy, and precious resources. And it’s happening here in Hawaii, too. The Kahala Hotel & Resort was recognized for excellence in their effort to be a “green business” by the State of Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT). The hotel was awarded its Green Business Certification by DBEDT’s Green Business Program on March 17, 2011.
The Green Business Program is a partnership between the Department of Health, DBEDT, and the Chamber of Commerce to encourage Hawaii businesses to operate in an environmentally responsible way. The program helps businesses to go beyond compliance to conserve energy, water and other resources, and to reduce pollution and waste. The program also seeks to create opportunities for industry members to share information on the implementation of programs that save money and conserve dwindling natural resources.
“At The Kahala, we are seeking to understand and take action on the direct and indirect environmental impacts of our business operations by reducing our energy and water consumption, educating and inspiring our staff and guests to support the environment, and addressing environmental challenges through innovative initiatives in a variety of areas,” says General Manager Thomas Pauly.
The Kahala’s “Green Team” is led by Controller Khara Markham and Chief Engineer Cory Vasconcellos and includes staff members from every department in the hotel, from housekeeping and the kitchen, to sales & marketing and the front office. Their strategy has been to examine all areas of the hotel’s operating systems to determine where conservation efforts can be established to conserve water and energy consumption, reduce solid waste, comply with all environmental regulations, and employ good housekeeping and operating practices to prevent pollution.
“We recognize and take seriously our responsibility to reduce the consumption of water, waste and energy in our hotel to lessen its impact on our community and on our planet,” said Markham. “We are proud to be one of the leading hotels in Hawaii when it comes to incorporating good operating practices to reduce waste and prevent pollution while also conserving water and energy resources and educating our staff and guests about conservation and sustainable tourism.”
The Kahala first embraced the Green initiative in 2009 and has since integrated many new strategies that support and encourage responsible tourism and sustainability. To receive a Green Business Certification from DBEDT, the hotel had to adopt numerous Green Business Standards which included monitoring and recording energy usage and waste generation, incorporating green training opportunities for employees, communicating environmental efforts to hotel customers, and assisting other businesses to become part of the Green Business Program. Among the various other initiatives upon which The Kahala has established in support of going “green” include:
GREEN GARDENS: The Kahala Herb Garden occupies only a small parcel of land but grows a wide variety of fresh herbs and edible blossoms such as basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary. Executive Chef Wayne Hirabayashi uses the garden’s bounty daily in creating culinary delights with these homegrown ingredients. The hotel also creates its own compost for the garden, utilizing and reusing waste products created in the kitchen with the help of a lively crop of homegrown Kahala worms. Drought resistant plants have been planted in the landscaping, which is on a timed watering system. There’s even a grass and green waste recycling container.
BUY LOCAL: The Kahala’s decision to support local farmers and fishermen through the purchase of Hawaii-grown sustainable food products, and by also purchasing food products from vendors that are organically grown, is one of the important foundations of The Kahala’s green efforts from the luxury hotel’s Food and Beverage department. Waste oil from The Kahala’s kitchen is collected and recycled into a biodiesel fuel source. The kitchen also saves food waste for local pig farmers to feed to their animals.
GREEN MEETINGS: This program sponsored by The Kahala’s Catering and Conference Services department minimizes the ecological footprint of conferences and meetings through the reduction of waste and conservation of valuable resources. Meeting planners may take advantage of a variety of green options which include using menus with locally grown and organic food products, recycling waste products generated by the meeting, and educating and urging conference attendees to conserve water and energy during their stay. The hotel is now using its Green Meetings program as a marketing strategy to attract new business.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY: The hotel does not use cooling towers to remove heat from its cooling system for the property; instead it uses deep water wells to pump sea water for cooling its chiller systems – resulting in substantial water and energy savings. The sea water is then sent to our decorative waterfall which loses its heat by falling and re-oxygenating itself at the bottom of the fall. It then flows to different lagoons where it creates a habitat for the 35 species of fish which call the hotel’s dolphin lagoon home. By not requiring cooling towers, the hotel saves 380,000 kilowatt hours a year for electricity. Approximately 4,500,000 gallons of water would evaporate annually if cooling towers were used when the cooling system is operating at 70% capacity. The hotel is also saving electricity from its guestrooms by replacing its incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents, and water, by 40 to 50% with the addition of low flow toilets, showerheads, and sink aerators. Lighting retrofits, high efficient motors, water and energy efficient equipment, timers, and variable frequency drives are but a few of the energy efficient items to have been incorporated into the property. An energy management system controls the lighting and air conditioning systems. Room fan coil units automatically shut off when a guest opens the lanai door and black out drapes prevent overheating from direct sun rays. Preventive maintenance programs also contribute to cost savings.
DOLPHIN QUEST – Education, informative, and entertaining, The Kahala Hotel’s Dolphin Quest Program delights young and old while educating about ocean and marine animal life conservation and ecology issues. First-hand encounters with the Hotel’s family of dolphins and other marine life swimming in the lagoons encourages respect and educates about the need to preserve animal life and harvest in sustainable numbers from the sea.
COMMUNITY SERVICE - The Kahala sponsors a Beach Clean-up Day and supports other community service projects to benefit the environment. The hotel rewards staff and managers for their volunteer efforts and encourages them to be active in supporting island conservation issues. As part of the certification process, the hotel hosted a Green Business Seminar where local businesses learned how to save money and protect the environment from The Kahala’s Green Team experts and other industry leaders already practicing sustainable tourism and employing green initiatives in their business practices.
Markham, a former resident of Portland, Oregon, a city leading America’s conservation efforts, grew up with a passion for recycling and conservation. One of the first efforts she initiated after joining The Kahala Hotel & Resort was to establish a recycling program for cans and bottles at the hotel. The hotel generated overwhelming participation from housekeepers by creating a recycling incentive program.
“Even small organizations can easily start programs that are beneficial to the environment, but don’t require lots of manpower or space.” says Markham. “All you need is a cooperative spirit and a little re-education and training for the staff.”
The hotel instituted minor things like putting recycling bags on every maid’s cart for collecting cans and newspapers; using glass cups, instead of plastic, in the guestrooms and compostable cups at the pool & beach; purchasing stationary with recycled content; using recyclable laser and copier toner cartridges; and donating or selling still-usable items such as mattresses, art, furniture, and dishes to charities, staff and the local community.
Vasconcellos also confirmed that the hotel has been upgrading equipment at every opportunity to better, more energy efficient models, from light bulbs to clothes washers and dryers, elevator motors, and even hot water heaters.
“We live on an island and on a planet with limited resources. Electricity, water and gas are extremely important resources, but with utility prices rising, we have to look for ways to save – not just monetarily but also to reduce our carbon footprint in our environment. As good stewards in our community and in our world, it’s extremely important that we continue to adapt and use energy efficient methods of operation while also conserving, reducing, reusing, and recycling. It’s good for business, and it’s great for Planet Earth. Everyone wins,” explains Vasconcellos.
For more information about The Kahala Hotel & Resort’s commitment to the environment and its new Green Business Certification, contact Khara Markham at (808) 739-8888 or visit The Kahala’s website at http://www.kahalaresort.com. For more information about DBEDT’s Green Business Certification program visit their web site at http://hawaii.gov/dbedt/info/energy/resource/greenbusiness.
– About The Kahala –
With 338 guestrooms, The Kahala Hotel & Resort is an oceanfront destination resort known for its impeccable service and hospitality. Just minutes from Waikiki, yet offering the peace and serenity of a neighbor island experience, The Kahala has been Honolulu's social address for weddings and gatherings since its opening in 1964. Captains of industry and celebrity guests continue to call The Kahala their home-away-from-home in Hawai'i. Travel + Leisure ranks The Kahala among the Top 3 Hawaii hotels and among the World’s Best 100 Hotels in its 2010 World’s Best Awards.
For more information, please contact The Kahala Hotel & Resort at (808) 739-8888 or toll-free at (800) 367-2525; or visit their website at www.kahalaresort.com