It all adds up…

****Guest post from David Grossman (Ben’s brother, and SVP, Grossman Marketing Group)****

While driving back to my office from a meeting, I saw the following sign posted on the back of a Staples delivery truck.   On the back of the truck, there is a small box that states, “Top speed set at 60.  It saves fuel & reduces emissions.”

We brake for the environment: the back of a Staples delivery truck.  Photo taken May 20, 2009 by David Grossman.

We brake for the environment: the back of a Staples delivery truck. Photo taken May 20, 2009 by David Grossman.

I want to commend Staples not only for putting measures in place that will help the environment, but for being transparent in communicating their efforts to the general public.  By doing so, they are both helping their business and raising awareness in general of the importance of being green.  So, thank you Staples!

Grossman Marketing wins green business award from Boston Business Journal

The Green Business Summit will be held on Friday, May 15, 2009.

The Green Business Summit will be held on Friday, May 15, 2009.

We at Grossman Marketing Group were honored and humbled this afternoon to learn that we are one of this year’s recipients of a Boston Business Journal green business award.  The award will be presented at this year’s Green Business Summit, scheduled for Friday, May 15, at 7 am at the Sheraton Boston Hotel.

We were included in the “Innovation” category, and recognized for our work in the green marketing and sustainability space.  We are especially grateful to our client, Zipcar, for nominating us for the award.

Below please find the full list of winners:

Invention:

Workplace:

Innovation:

Design:

Here’s a link to learn more about the event program as well as to register.

Green Hotels: The Business Case for Sustainability

green-coverA chat with the authors of High Performance Hospitality: Sustainable Hotel Case Studies

I had the chance to catch up last month with Amisha Parekh and Michele Diener, two of the three authors of High Performance Hospitality: Sustainable Hotel Case Studies, a lodging industry textbook.  At a time when the Westin is launching its Element line and other hotel chains are playing up their “green” credentials, this book is the first in-depth analysis of the business case for sustainability within hotels.

Amisha and Michele, who also wrote the book with their friend and classmate Jaclyn Pitera, met while they were dual-degree students at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and the University’s School of Natural Resources and Environment.  This book was the outgrowth of a joint master’s project.  Michele currently serves as the Director of Sustainability Strategies at MGM Mirage, Amisha is a strategy consultant for Deloitte, where she is part of the firm’s sustainability team, and Jaclyn is in her third year of the joint program.

The book focuses on eight hotel properties and features detailed analyses of their respective sustainability efforts.  What differentiates this text from other coverage of “green” business is its focus on the details.  As Michele said, “There was no comprehensive book taking a property from design, to construction to operation…from soup to nuts, how a hotel can be more sustainable.  Our intent was to get this information out there to the industry in a very simple way, with a lot of checklists, lessons learned, etc.”

She continued, “There is a matrix at the front of the book summarizing all of the green initiatives [the featured hotels] are doing.  We also categorized the programs based on complexity (how difficult to implement), guest transparency (would it make a positive or negative impact on guests), etc.”

Of course, the economy is top-of-mind for everyone these days, and during our conversation this was a main piece of the discussion.  Amisha and Michele explained that the book is “the business case for sustainability” in the lodging industry, with a focus on the financial benefits to the company to implementing certain steps.  As Michele explained, “At a time when [hotels are making cuts], management sees sustainability as a benefit, helping the organization to consume less water, less energy, and therefore, save money.”

Key takeaways
According to the authors, below are some of the key takeaways from the study.  Although they were derived from their hotel analysis, they are very relevant to all organizations interested in driving change around sustainability:

  • Employee education is key – Green is not something for just the green team to implement, but rather must be part of the company culture.  If it’s part of the culture, it is much easier to implement (and less likely to be cut)
  • Experimentation is important – Some of the products and programs and technologies that the authors studied are new to the industry.  What they found, Michele said, is that “if it’s new to your property, you need to experiment with it, in a few rooms, a floor, at your home –for example a manager installed a low-flow shower head at his home to see how it worked.  Through experimentation, an organization can identify the projects that work, and then execute them more effectively.”
  • One size does not fit all – Amisha said, “We looked at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco and the Comfort Inn and Suites in Revere, MA.  They both were very strong in educating people about sustainability.  However, the Ritz was behind the scenes, whereas the Comfort Inn was more ‘in your face about it’ to guests.”
  • Financial drivers to going green are there – either from less start-up costs or lower ongoing costs

The authors studied very different hotels, balancing their selection across a number of variables, including size (90-900 rooms), price (mid-rate, convention, luxury), location (urban/rural), diamond rating, guest type (transient, government, business, conventioneer).  In addition, they also considered whether the hotels, all of which are in North America, were existing vs. new buildings, as well as branded versus independent.  However, all were considered green in some respect.

The book did not address the consumer.  However, when asked how customers have responded to hotel sustainability, Michele said, “Anecdotally, the consumer is not willing to pay more for [the green] rooms.  But it has become more of the expectation.  When companies are contracting with hotels for meeting and conventions, those questionnaires now include questions on lighting, recycling, green attributes.  If you want that business, you need to make those efforts.  Corporate clients are increasingly green options.”

The authors also were very grateful for the support they received from the following organizations:

If you’re interested in reading a portion of the book, here’s a link to downloadable chapter, which includes the book’s foreword, executive summary, as well as a case study on the Comfort Inn & Suites in Boston, MA.

Financial Times: Why sustainability is still going strong

financialtimes_logoA friend of mine sent along the following link to a piece written by Duke professors Daniel Vermeer and Robert Clemen, about the importance of a refined sustainability strategy during this economic crisis.  Vermeer is the executive director of the Corporate Sustainability Initiative at the Duke Fuqua School of Business, and Clemen is professor and faculty director of the Corporate Sustainability Initiative.

The piece, published last Thursday in the Financial Times, is titled “Managing in a downturn: Why sustainability is still going strong” and is a must-read.  Vermeer and Clemen’s main point is that given the current difficult business climate, organizations will understandably make changes to their sustainability and corporate governance efforts.  However, they warn against doing the bare minimum, as those organizations that fail to show a “commitment will find themselves at risk when the economic conditions improve.”

They make some interesting points, introduce some interesting people like Marcus Roberts, especially in the conclusion, and I wanted to make sure all of you saw it.  Here’s the link to the full story.

Highlights from Boston Business Journal Green Business Summit


On Friday, May 16, the Boston Business Journal hosted its first-ever Green Business Summit.

I attended the morning event, and was impressed with the program, which included a keynote speech by Cape Wind CEO Jim Gordon. Here’s a link to an article on his talk:
http://boston.bizjournals.com/boston/stories/2008/05/12/daily46.html?surround=lfn

CEO of Suffolk Construction John Fish’s comments were particularly interesting and penetrating. He cited a number of steps that his firm had taken that I believe represent an excellent roadmap or model for all companies in terms of how to inculcate a commitment to green solutions and sustainability within their organization.

They included the following:

  1. Change the culture – it is important to help people think and act green. Fish said steps to make this possible can be as small as putting a blue recycling bin next to a black trash can at each employee’s desk, reminding them of environmental choices every day.
  2. Training – At Suffolk, this includes a 3-day course on green construction for employees
  3. Be a catalyst for change by bringing all parties together – In Suffolk’s case, this means architects, owners and subcontractors. In our business, it is designers, marketing professionals and senior management.
  4. AffordabilityPeople need to overcome the perception that going green is more expensive. In the construction industry, a green building that is more energy-efficient can save money in the long run.
  5. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – You need to create standards and specifics metrics by which to measure success.
  6. Create standards and specific measurements to reduce waste

For more coverage on the summit, please see the following article:

http://green.bizjournals.com/index.php/2008/05/16/panelists-discuss-keys-to-sustaining-sustainability/

Green approaches help Boston-based hotelier


Over the weekend, I had the chance to read an interesting profile on Tedd Saunders, a principal of his family’s Saunders Hotel Group and a leading proponent of “green” business practices in the lodging industry. The article, published in Connecticut College’s quarterly magazine CC: Connecticut College Magazine, discussed Saunders’ (Class of 1983 from Connecticut) long-time commitment to the environment, and was titled “On The Green List: Hotelier Tedd Saunders ’83 is helping the world’s largest industry set environmentally friendly standards.”

Saunders, in addition to his ownership stake in his family’s business, also founded Ecological Solutions Inc. in 1992, an environmental consulting firm focused on the lodging industry. A web link to the article from CC Magazine was not available. However, to read more about Tedd, please see the following link from the Green Lodging News: http://www.greenlodgingnews.com/content.aspx?id=1663

According to Green Lodging News, an industry publication on “green” issues, at the Saunders Hotel Group’s 212-room Lenox Hotel in Boston, environmental retrofits and other thoughtful business practices have produced impressive annual savings: 1.7 million gallons of water, 110,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, 37 tons of trash from the waste stream, 175 trees through paper recycling. For these and other efforts to reduce its carbon footprint, the Environmental Protection Agency recognized the Lenox with its Energy Star rating in February 2008. Please see an article in the Boston Globe for more information:
http://www.boston.com/realestate/news/articles/2008/02/12/how_green_is_my_building/

For more information on the Lenox Hotel’s green efforts, please see the following page: http://www.lenoxhotel.com/environment.html

The main takeaway from reading about the pioneering work that Saunders and his family are doing is that green business practices can not only result in cost savings (water, energy, etc.) but they can also strengthen a company’s relationships with their existing customers and attract new business from eco-minded travelers. In fact, in 2006 the Lenox was included in Condé Nast Traveler Magazine’s Green List. What’s more impressive about this is that the Lenox was the only urban hotel in the world to be honored. (Here’s a link: http://www.concierge.com/cntraveler/articles/10419)