The Carlton hotel was one of three winners of the inaugural 2014 HANYC Sustainability Awards, given out by the Hotel Association of NYC. What have they been doing in the year since their win? How have their efforts made a difference in their operations? We found out from General Manager Vic Freeman.
[Related: How Green Are NYC Hotels?]
Q: What did winning the first HANYC Sustainability Award mean to you?
A: When we applied, we never thought that we would be chosen. When we were, we were very flattered and honored to be recognized at such an early time for sustainability in our local hotel network. We feel it is a great responsibility to be some of the first participants because it’s us that will be helping to generate interest in sustainability amongst our peers.
Q: What sustainable practice are you most proud of?
A: We are undoubtedly most proud of our participation in The Global Soap Project, a soap recycling nonprofit. It’s such a great organization because they achieve two goals: reducing waste that helps the environment and helps people! Their soap reduces disease and saves lives. It’s also great because a large portion of our staff is involved in the process, from separating the soap from regular waste, to boxing and shipping the soap.
Q: Have you implemented anything new since winning the award?
A: We are always working on creating more awareness among our employees and guests. We had a lobby event where we promoted a children’s book, Chizi’s Tale, which raises awareness of declining global wildlife populations due to illegal trade. It was very informational and fun at the same time.
Q: How have your efforts made a difference?
A: Since the award, we succeeded in the NYC Mayor’s Water challenge, where we reduced 10% of water consumption over the goal of 5%. It was a significant source of monetary savings. We are also almost at our 7000 lb mark for donated soap so it’s nice to reward our staff for their efforts. (The Carlton offers gift cards for every 1,000 pounds of soap donated to keep staff motivated.)
Q: What is your advice for other hotels wanting to be more sustainable?
A: They should start with small, obtainable goals and build on that. Stay focused on one to three projects and really own them.
Q: If you could do one thing to make your hotel more sustainable/socially responsible — anything in the world that you desire without worry about cost or practicality — what would that be?
A: It would be wonderful to have a proper rooftop garden that grows all the fruits and vegetables for the restaurant.
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— Magdalene Sim is Director of Communications at Great Forest Inc., a leading sustainability consultancy and partner of the Hotel Association of NYC’s Sustainability Committee. Great Forest worked with the HANYC to develop and launch the award. Get more sustainability news in the Sustainability 101 blog.