Atlanta’s Westin Peachtree Plaza, the largest Green Seal Silver Level-certified convention hotel in the Southeast, has launched what it calls its Green Tour, giving meeting attendees a behind-the-scenes look at its sustainability, conservation and environmental-efficiency practices.
The Westin is the site for the Green Meeting Industry Council’s 2015 Sustainable Meetings Conference, running June 17-19. The GMIC event brings together planners, suppliers, service providers and destination representatives around a single mission: transforming an industry by integrating sustainability in the entire life cycle of event planning and execution. The 2015 theme is “Power to Change.”
The forum is designed for any planner interested in sustainable event practices, whether experienced or new to the industry. It’s designed to help you create sparks in your meeting design by using sustainable solutions that benefit all stakeholders. The Westin has its own Green Council, a team of more than 20 associates from all departments that oversee the hotel’s environmental programs.
The 1,073-room Westin has 80,000 square feet of conference space.
Its Green Tour takes meeting and event attendees through the property to see everything from event serving ware made of leaves to the 450,000 pounds recycled each year through a one-stream system. The tour also speaks to the broader trend of green meetings and sustainability in the hospitality industry. It includes stops at:
- The loading dock, where, in 2011, $13 million was spent on central plant upgrades. The original chillers, boilers, pumps and controls were replaced with a new system to increase heating and cooling efficiency and provide a more sustainable process for water flow and water recycling.
- The hotel’s 24/7 one-stream recycling system for cardboard, paper, plastics, aluminum and glass.
- The kitchen, where executive chef Russell Sleight works with local farmers and vendors when sourcing ingredients to decrease delivery distances and further reduce the hotel’s carbon footprint. All vendors must deliver food in biodegradable or recyclable containers and packaging. The kitchen team uses only eco-friendly chemicals in the dish area. On average, it recycles 10 tons of kitchen oil into biofuel and composts 48,000 pounds of paper and food waste every year.
- The housekeeping department, where guest room initiatives are discussed, including the use of environmentally friendly cleaners, in-room recycling bins, energy-efficient lighting and temperature controls.
- One of the hotel’s 53 newly renovated meeting spaces, where attendees can see how setup minimizes environmental impact. Clutter-free meeting sets and linen-less tables reduce waste and only refillable glass bottles are used for water.
Sustainability also is encouraged through the Westin’s Go Green Racing team-building activity, in which groups build one solar car and one car made only of recycled materials and then race. Groups also can receive a report card that shows their meetings’ overall environmental impact.