Sustainable Success for Accor North America
Recently, Dallas-based Accor North America (Accor NA) set an example for the hospitality industry by implementing a fluorescent-lamp and battery-recycling program at all of its 670-plus corporate-owned Motel 6 and Studio 6 properties, making Motel 6 the first national hotel brand to implement a chain-wide fluorescent-lamp and battery-recycling program. Through the program, Motel 6 expects to recycle approximately 60,000 fluorescent lamps per year.
The recycling program is not the only way that Accor NA is showing leadership in sustainability. Also recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as an ENERGY STAR® Leader, the Motel 6 brand is recognized as part of the EPA's ENERGY STAR Building Challenge, a program encouraging building owners and managers to reduce energy use by 10 percent or more.
Here are a few more ways that Accor NA protects the environment and conserves natural resources:
- Participation in energy- and water-conservation programs.
- Water-saving showerheads and faucet aerators.
- Using environmentally sensitive laundry and cleaning products.
- Technologically advanced heating and cooling systems to reduce power consumption.
- Corporate office recycling program.
- Printing on recycled paper using soy ink.
- Use of fluorescent lighting, which consumes 75-percent less energy than conventional bulbs.
Dan Gilligan, vice president, energy and environmental services at Accor North America, provides more information on how and why the organization made the move toward sustainability.
Buildings: What prompted Accor NA to institute a fluorescent-lamp and battery-recycling program at its Motel 6 properties?
Gilligan: The law in California changed to require small-quantity fluorescent lamp and battery users like us to start recycling. After implementing our program in California, the decision was made not to wait to do this as each state required it, but to be proactive and implement the recycling of lamps and batteries nationwide because it was the right thing to do for the environment.
Buildings: How has the "rolling-out" process gone?
Gilligan: The rollout is complete, and we have locations that have been recycling for more than 1 year. In many locations, like California, the law requires that lamp-recycling boxes and battery-recycling buckets be changed out at least once per year; so, we are now in the process of managing this once-a-year requirement.Buildings: What are the steps involved in recycling items at the Motel 6 properties?
Gilligan: Used lamps and batteries are placed in the boxes or buckets. When the box or bucket is full, or when the box or bucket has been on-site for more than 1 year, it's shipped back to our vendor. The vendor recycles the material, eliminating it from the waste stream. When one box or bucket is sent back, another one is automatically shipped to the site to replace it.Buildings: How can building owners and managers follow Accor's lead in promoting sustainability?
Gilligan: They can make a difference by simply adopting a similar commitment to recycle 100 percent of the fluorescent lamps and batteries they generate, regardless of current environmental code.
Downtown Austin Redeveloped
Five city-owned blocks in downtown Austin, TX, have been chosen to be redeveloped by Austin, TX-based Trammell Crow in partnership with Austin's Constructive Ventures Inc. (CVI) and San Antonio, TX-based USAA Real Estate Co. The project is Austin's largest downtown redevelopment effort to date.
The proposed plan, designed by Mithūn Architects and Planners of Seattle, includes condos, apartments, offices, lodging, and retail space, blended with five public squares. One highlight of the plan includes making 25 percent of rental units affordable to families at 80-percent median family income, and a
"density bonus" payment to the city's Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
The plan also includes a facility for seniors, a boutique hotel, and more than 5,000 parking spaces. The project team is proposing to work toward LEED Gold status for all buildings in the redevelopment, which is expected to have a dramatic positive economic impact on Austin, providing significant new downtown employment opportunities and adding as much as $700 million to the city's tax base upon completion.
Green-Cleaning Standard Adopted for LEED
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently revised its LEED for Existing Buildings Operations & Maintenance (LEED-EB O&M) standard to make green cleaning a prerequisite. The USGBC added credits for institutions that conduct an audit of their facilities using APPA's Custodial Staffing Guidelines for Educational Facilities, recognizing buildings for superior cleaning programs. Facilities can earn up to 2 LEED points for using the guidelines as part of the Quality Cleaning section of the LEED-EB O&M guide.
The intent of the assessment, according to the LEED guide, is to reduce the exposure of building occupants and maintenance personnel to potentially hazardous chemical, biological, and particulate contaminants that adversely affect air quality, human health, building finishes, building systems, and the environment by implementing, managing, and auditing cleaning procedures and processes.
DOJ Proposes New ADA Standards
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued proposals to adopt new design standards for facilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) based on revised guidelines previously issued by the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Access Board.
Under the ADA, the DOJ is responsible for maintaining standards for new construction and alterations that are consistent with the Access Board's guidelines. The new standards would apply to state and local government facilities subject to Title II of the ADA, and to places of public accommodation and commercial facilities covered by Title III of the law. Until new or revised provisions are finalized, existing ADA standards are to be followed.
AHRI Sets High Standards for DOE Rulemaking
The Arlington, VA-based Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) called on the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to be more "thorough and vigorous" during its rulemaking process this summer, partly due to poor cost predictions made during past rulemakings for central air-conditioners and heat pumps. The DOE will determine whether the minimum efficiency standards, which were increased in 2006, should be revised again by 2016.
Karim Amrane, AHRI's vice president for regulatory policy and research, testified in June during a public meeting that the DOE severely underestimated the cost increase from a 10 SEER (seasonal energy-efficiency ratio) to a 13 SEER system. He called on the DOE to perform thorough analyses in three areas:
- Cost increases associated with higher efficiency standards.
- Potential cost impact from an HFC cap as part of climate-change policy.
- Feasibility of various enforcement mechanisms for possible regional efficiency standards.
In addition to discussing the cost underestimations by the DOE, Amrane asked the DOE to "carefully study the impact of climate-change legislation on the availability and price of HFC refrigerants." He mentioned the real possibility of prices skyrocketing when not enough refrigerant is available to meet the new energy-conservation standards. Higher-efficiency products require more refrigerant charge because they have larger evaporators and condensers. Despite this fact, a dominant climate-change bill in the U.S. Senate would set an HFC cap for 2016 at 39-percent below estimated industry demand.
Los Angeles County Office Building Completed
Construction is complete for the $65.1 million Los Angeles County Administration Building in South Los Angeles. Built by St. Louis-based McCarthy Building Cos. Inc., the project includes a $55.5 million, 4-story office building and a $9.6 million, 6-story parking structure.
The new facility focuses primarily on services for children and is leased to four Los Angeles County departments, creating a one-stop resource center for the families of Central and South Los Angeles. In fact, more than 4,000 program participants live within 3 miles of the building. With the project's opening, the county estimates that the 1,000 employees and 1,400 daily visitors will provide economic renewal and lower crime rates for the area. In addition to helping nearby businesses, the building has 4,000 square feet of space on the ground floor for retail and restaurant development.
Completed in less than 2 years, the office building features a combination of precast façade, aluminum window-wall systems, and plaster surface treatments.
Looming Tax Increases Trouble Construction Industry
Unless Congressional action is taken, tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 that significantly impact the construction industry will expire in 2011.
Tax rates will go up across the board for Americans, including the pass-through entities, such as partnerships and S Corporations, which make up most businesses in the construction industry.
According Stephen E. Sandherr, CEO at the Arlington, VA-based Associated General Contractors of America, "In 2001 and 2003, Congress made the right decision to join with the President and lower the tax burden on our nation's businesses to stop a recession and keep the country moving forward. With a precarious economy, it's time for Congress to make the cuts permanent."
Solar Rooftop Garages Generate Electricity in Lakewood, CO
The Belmar development in Lakewood, CO, will soon generate 2.3 million kilowatt-hours of clean electrical energy per year. Denver-based Continuum Partners LLC will install 8,300 solar panels on the roof of the parking garages at Belmar, a walkable, mixed-use community. The 1.7-megawatt array will be installed on 125,000 square feet of three parking garages and will be the largest parking-structure-mounted solar array in the country.
Each solar cell will collect energy generated by the sun, which is then converted from DC to AC voltage so it can be fed into the energy grid that supports the development. The energy will then be sold back to Belmar to power the garages.
Dedicated to using natural resources responsibly, Belmar also features a small urban wind farm and solar-powered pay-and-display parking kiosks to manage 350 on-street parking spaces. "By incorporating green-building principles into our buildings," says Tom Gougeon, director of development at Continuum Partners, "developers, builders, and facility managers can have a significant impact on reducing energy consumption."
Report Finds Schools' Physical Safety Improving
The 2008 School Safety Index from CDW Government Inc. (CDW-G) has been released, providing a firsthand view of school safety issues from the perspective of more than 400 district IT and security directors. This year's report finds that districts improved their physical safety score by 39 percent over 2007; cyber safety scores declined by 25 percent in the same time period.
Other key findings of the study:
- More than half of the districts surveyed are using network access control (NAC) to protect data and ensure that only authorized users and approved applications access their networks. Budget constraints and lack of staff resources, however, cancelled out efforts to improve cyber safety.
- Nearly half of the districts are utilizing mass-notification systems, and 70 percent are using security cameras; 29 percent of districts report that security cameras have had a positive impact on district safety.
The survey also revealed that, while more schools are using security cameras, only a small number give local police force the ability to access digital footage in real time during an emergency.