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Chris Robinson: Hatchett Hospitality

When discussing sustainability in the hotel industry, the logistics part of the hotel design process can often times be overlooked in the conversation, but how goods are transported to and from hotel construction sites and how previously used items are disposed of can both have a significant environmental impact.

But there are several steps that can be taken in moving goods to and from a worksite that can serve to make a project that much more “green,” said Chris Robinson, vp sales & purchasing with Hatchett Hospitality.

He noted that when moving products to and from a construction site, it is important to look for ways to consolidate items on to a trailer to reduce the amount of trucks being sent to a job.

“Carrying products in full trailers is cost effective and far more efficient,” he said. “We also bring [multiple] products into a centralized location before shipping them to a job site.” While reducing the amount of trucks used reduces costs for Hatchett, it also serves to lessen the amount of fuel used, thereby cutting engine emissions as well.

But in the spirit of reducing and reusing, Robinson noted that trucks that have just been emptied with new products are then used to haul away old items to be sorted for donation, recycling or disposal.

“We have warehousing facilities where we take the old products,” he explained. “Before hauling previously used items away we take a look at every guestroom to see what can be reused or recycled. We end up greatly reducing the amount of products that are sent to a landfill.”

He noted that finding outlets that look for used furniture, televisions or other products to donate to charities, or that recycle a variety of products continues to grow. “It is much easier to do this today,” Robinson said. “There are many outlets that look for salvageable products and we are also sending products back to some manufacturers to be reused.”

While there are ways to have a positive impact on sustainability in the logistics portion of the hotel design process, Robinson feels right now momentum surrounding the issue has slowed largely because of the nation’s current economic situation.

“People are scared right now and being very conservative,” he said. “Many are watching every dime they are spending and are doing everything they can to remain liquid.”

One of the biggest challenges facing hotel developers today is the availability of credit from many of the nation’s banks. For new construction or remodel projects, he noted that banks are lending fewer dollars per room key, which has led to owners looking to reduce costs where they can. For example, to some buying a flat screen television for guestrooms today might be more important to the guest experience than purchasing a low-flow toilet.

But despite current-day challenges, Robinson remains bullish on the future of the sustainability movement in the hotel design community. “When we come out of the recession I think the movement will still be strong,” he said. “While the [economic downturn] scared some, the desire to make eco-friendly hotels remains.”

—Greg Sleter