Saunders Earns Environmental Honors
By Glenn Haussman

BOSTON -- Saunders Hotel Group has claimed the title of the most environmentally friendly hotel as the company’s Comfort Inn & Suites Boston/Airport was picked last week in Philadelphia by the American Hotel & Lodging Association as a "Star of the Industry" for Environmental Management.

The award is the culmination of a more than decade-long effort to make Saunders’ owned properties the most energy-efficient hotels in the lodging business. The property will also get the Environmental Showplace for its efforts from Choice Hotels, which recognizes the Boston property as tops in conservation efforts for the more than 3,000 Comfort Inns.

“Having won this industry award is gratifying because we won our first award 10 years ago and it feels like we are creating a dynasty here,” said Tedd Saunders, SHG’s Executive Vice President of Environmental Affairs and the President of Boston-based EcoLogical Solutions, Inc. “No company has won three times and each of our properties has now won the award. It’s fantastic because it shows we are not resting on our laurels, but continuing to push the envelope for the operations and products we have incorporated into our facilities.“

From the easy to implement programs such as programs that encourage reuse of sheets and towels during a guest’s stay to its adoption of more complex projects, such as installing an energy management system featuring digital thermostats with motion sensor technology to eliminate wasted energy, Saunders wants hotels owned by SHG to be a showplace for how hotels can protect the environment and save some cash all at once.

Other programs implemented by the Comfort Inn & Suites are an ozone laundry system that cuts out hot water and chlorine use while reducing chemical consumption, a new food waste composting program, water conserving ice machines, bathroom fixtures and heat pumps as well as energy efficient "Low E" windows, "Energy Star" rated office equipment and nearly 950 compact fluorescent light bulbs installed in public and back-of-house areas throughout the property.

Since 1989, SHG has implemented more than 90 environmentally friendly projects at its three hotels. Next year, SHG will open a luxury boutique hotel on Boston's Berkeley Street that will also include energy efficient programs.

The hotel’s General Manager, John Mitchell, said his hotel has assembled a team made up of staffers that meet to discuss new ecologically sound solutions to keep the hotel cutting-edge in its energy saving efforts and said its composting program was a direct result of these discussions.

“We are always continually improving,” he said in an interview with Hotel Interactive.

To keep improving, Saunders said the hotel group continually trains its staff members so everyone at the hotel is not only aware of the efforts involved in protecting natural resources, but also feels pride in helping the properties remain environmentally sound.

One recent innovation was the installation of an ionization machine in the pool area that reduces chemicals needed in the pool, and according to Saunders the payback for the investment is about two years.

“It’s less corrosive on the pool itself and requires less maintenance too. It’s better than putting money in the bank,” he said, adding the company researched the system for about a half a year while also investigating other chlorine alternatives.