Archive for May, 2010

Marriott International Goes Green in a Big Way With its First LEED-Gold Certified Property in Downtown Portland, Oregon

Monday, May 24th, 2010

The Newly Redesigned Courtyard by Marriott® Portland City Center is Just One of Nine U.S. Hotel Properties to Achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold Certification

Portland, OR (PRWEB) May 22, 2010 — Coinciding with Earth Day’s 40th year, Courtyard by Marriott Portland City Center now stands out among the Marriott family of hotels as the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold-certified Marriott Hotel in the United States. The hotel’s Gold LEED certification is the second highest certification possible, and only one of nine such hotels in the United States, of nearly 900 LEED-registered properties.

Hotel in Downtown Portland

Hotel in Downtown Portland

To achieve this prestigious certification, the Courtyard by Marriott Portland City Center worked in under the guidance of hotel management and development group Sage Hospitality to incorporate a number of innovative energy efficient practices. The hotel officially launched its green initiatives along with other Sage Hospitality hotels during “Earth Hour” on March 27, 2010, encompassing consciousness-raising environmental efforts such as tree planting, Travel Green hotel packages, and complimentary valet parking for hybrid and electric cars at select hotels.

In addition to energy saving efforts, guests have recycling bins guest rooms, the hotel uses green housekeeping products and organic bath products, efficient fluorescent lighting and programs to reduce water usage. Even restaurant food waste is composted rather than thrown away as trash.

Other sustainability practices include:

  • Non-PVC wall covering, low VOC paints and low urea-formaldehyde casework in the guestrooms will contribute to a healthier indoor environment for both guests and employees.
  • Located on the Portland’s new Green Max Line with easy access to downtown Portland, the Oregon Convention Center and Portland State University by public transportation.
  • Bicycle storage and changing rooms available for employees.
  • Uniforms made from recycled plastic bottles.
  • Kitchen waste composting program that includes turning used cooking oil into biodiesel fuel.

In addition, the hotel was the winner of the 2010 Green Award, sponsored by the Energy Trust of Oregon. “Sustainability is much more than a corporate ethos at Courtyard by Marriott Portland City Center; as a LEED Gold hotel, it is just how we do business,” said Mike Castro, General Manager. “As Portlanders, saving energy, protecting the environment and adopting local suppliers, artists and vendors is a way of life. ” Visit Marriott International, Inc. (NYSE: MAR) for company information. For more information or reservations, please visit our web site at, and for the latest company news, visit

About Courtyard by Marriott Portland City Center
Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, the Courtyard by Marriott® City Center hotel in downtown Portland, near Oregon’s Pearl District provides you with everything you’ll need. From spacious guest rooms to a full-service business center and on-site restaurant with classic American cuisine, this hotel’s amenities and services offer the perfect Rose City experience in downtown Portland. Near the Pearl District area, this business hotel in Portland is ideal for corporate travelers attending conventions, conferences, seminars or board meetings with great group rates and stylish green meeting spaces, featuring seven meeting rooms and more than 5,300 square feet of meeting space. With the assistance of Portland City Center’s hotel meeting professionals, you can count on us to help you plan a flawless business meeting or social event. Find everything you’ll need at Marriott’s only LEED Gold Certified hotel near the Pearl District.

About Sage Hospitality
Founded in 1984, Sage Hospitality has strategically grown into one of the largest privately held hotel management and development companies in the nation operating a variety of large, full-service hotels and extended stay and select-service properties. Sage Hospitality’s comprehensive management portfolio includes major international brands for Marriott, Starwood, Hilton and IHG as well as the independent boutique hotels the Oxford. Sage Hospitality has further differentiated with the creation of the Sage Restaurant Group, which has created and is managing 8 unique restaurant concepts including the acclaimed Mercat a la Planxa in Chicago. The company developed the innovative CoCo Key water resort brand with 10 destination hotel and water resort properties. For more information, please visit

About LEED Certification
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. LEED certifies green practices by giving building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. LEED ratings cover new construction, operations and maintenance, as well as waste water and trash disposal and more.


Driving Makes You Fat, Urban Sprawl Bankrupts You, Other Life-Saving New Urbanist Epiphanies

Friday, May 21st, 2010

BY Greg LindsayThu May 20, 2010

road  fatalities

On the afternoon of July 6, 1999, Dr. Richard Jackson was summoned to the office of his boss, the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Jackson was then the head of the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health, and he knew that his boss was preparing an editorial on the biggest health threats American would face in the 21st century.

As Jackson tells it today, he spent the drive across Atlanta mulling the contenders. Was it asthma, which now affects nearly one in 10 Americans? Asthma rates are closely correlated with air pollution — “the more we drive, the more asthma we get,” he said. Was it obesity? The proportion of people who are overweight in this country had climbed from 24% in 1960 to 47% in 1980 to 64% in 2000 (including 31% who are obese). Obesity begat diabetes, which has doubled in prevalence since 1980. One in three Americans is expected to contract it. Eleven percent of health care spending goes toward treating it (“2% of all the money in the United States,” Jackson says). As a percentage of GDP, health care spending on diabetes had climbed to 14% by 1999; has since risen to 17% and is headed toward 20%. “It has tripled over my career,” Jackson says.

But there was also climate change and auto fatalities, which vary by city and region. If the U.S. auto fatality rate shrank to New York’s level, we would save 24,000 lives a year. If Portland, Oregon’s rate were the national number, 15,000 fewer people would die in auto accidents. (Although if the nation had the auto fatality rate of Atlanta, where Jackson was driving while pondering all of this, an additional 15,000 people would die each year.)

Then at one intersection on his trip, Jackson noticed a woman in her 70s walking along the side of the road in the summer heat, carrying what looked to be a heavy plastic shopping bag. She was doubled over, presumably from osteoporosis. He considered offering her a ride, but didn’t, and the missed opportunity haunts him to this day. If she were to die before making it home, he realized, the official cause of death would be “heat stroke,” and not a lack of sidewalks and shade trees. If she were to be hit by a truck, she would be considered an auto fatality, not the victim of a lack of transportation alternatives.

“What public health is about,” he has since come to understand, “is the causes of the causes of death.” On Thursday morning at the annual meeting of the Congress of the New Urbanism in Atlanta, he informed a roomful of planners and architects, “You who create places that promote and protect health are probably doing more or health than those of us walking around in white coats.” In the 20th century, American life expectancy soared by 30 years. “How many of those years came from white coats, and how many more from public health?” Twenty-five years from public health, and only five from medical care — and we spend 17% of our GDP treating it,” he said.

His realization that day in 1999 led Jackson to embrace New Urbanism as a tool to improve public health. That led to the 2004 book Urban Sprawl and Public Health, written by Dr. Howard Frumkin (another former director of the National Center for Environmental Health) and Lawrence Frank, a landscape architect who now teaches about sustainable transportation at the University of British Columbia. The trio (Jackson, Frumkin, and Frank) noted that a quarter of all the developed land in the United States had been developed in just the last 15 years. The average American’s yearly driving rose from 4,000 miles in 1960 to 10,000 miles in 2000, and the average person’s time spent in Atlanta traffic had risen from six hours to 34 hours during that time.

They proposed that the way environment and transportation patterns were built caused many of America’s public health problems. They starting with the premise that the best way to combat an obesity epidemic, diabetes, and their attendant health problems (and health spending) is to encourage walking and physical activity–New Urbanist principles would help accomplish that. New Urbanists, in turn, embraced Jackson, Frumkin, and Frank in their effort to prove that their work was about more than personal preference; it possessed societal ramifications.

On Thursday, the three authors reconvened to offer their takes on what had changed since publication. Jackson offered his original epiphany, while Frumkin reflected on how much American culture had since come around to their point of view. Frank, meanwhile, delved into a few of studies supporting what he called “the hidden health consequences of transportation investment.”

One of those studies is the seminal, Atlanta-based SMARTRAQ measuring connectivity, proximity to amenities, and household transportation behavior which has since spawned off dozens of studies. It was SMARTRAQ which proved, as Frank put it, “that driving makes you fat.” (As a predictor of obesity, time spent in a car is undeniably significant.) Transit users in Atlanta are 3.42 times more likely to meet physical activity recommendations; ergo, “investing in public transit might be the best way to encourage physical activity.” Among teenagers, the data demonstrated that residential density, mixed-use planning, walkable commercial destinations and parks were all statistically significant in whether they were likely to walk enough to help stave off obesity. And kids in households with fewer cars were more likely to walk — the more cars at their fingertips, the more likely they would use them.

A once radical idea — that health and urbanism are so deeply entwined that investing in the latter may improve the former — is beginning to find broad adoption. The California Medical Association has adopted resolutions based on these principles, and a body of research is beginning to form. In 2003, the number of American Public Health Association reports that mentioned “land use” was approximately zero. Last year, there were 130 presentations on the subject. “There is a tsunami of interest,” Jackson said.

Rewarding consumers for saving energy.

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
Tuesday, 18th May 2010
Source : Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist

Recently, Hilton Worldwide announced it has been secretly monitoring the energy use in 1300 of its 3500 hotels worldwide. Using its proprietary system LightStay, the corporation has calculated and analyzed its environmental impact.

In the first full-year of findings, the 1,300 LightStay-equipped properties conserved enough energy to power 5,700 homes for a year, saved enough water to fill more than 650 Olympic-size pools, and reduced carbon output equivalent to taking 34,865 cars off the road. Reductions in water and energy use alone also translated into estimated savings of more than USD $29 million in utility costs for hotel owners in 2009.

Using LightStay, the Hilton properties reduced energy use by 5 percent, carbon output by 6 percent, waste output by 10 percent, and water use by 2.4 percent in 2009 over 2008. (Hilton engaged an independent auditor and adjusted the results for differences in occupancy levels and major weather events year over year.)

LightStay is an integral part of Hilton’s effort to implement sustainability practices in every aspect of their businesses—helping them to quantify their impact on the environment. Excited about their first year results, they have committed to using LightStay throughout their entire network by December 31, 2011.

LightStay measures indicators across 200 operational practices including housekeeping, paper product use, food waste, chemical storage, air quality, and transportation. The data inspired the Hilton New York to donate more than 5,000 pounds of leftover food to a local charity—food that would have gone to waste.

On the heels of this announcement, hotelworld Network blogger Jason Freed suggests an “Eco-Loyalty Program” for rewarding “eco-conscious travelers”. Freed proposes rewarding them for participation in various sustainability initiatives—particularly those in hotels, including a monitored-temperature program, towel and linen programs, recycling paper and plastic, eating organic in the restaurant, taking the hotel shuttle instead of a taxi, and having the receipt e-mailed instead of printed.

Sustainability is not just good for the environment, it’s also good for the bottom line. Given the tremendous cost savings for hoteliers and other businesses, we believe it is only a matter of time before we see these rewarding ideas implemented to effect all kinds of savings.

Metro area commuting data from Brookings: best and worst performers nationally

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Metro area commuting data from Brookings: best and worst performers  nationally

Yesterday the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program released its signature report, The State of Metropolitan America.  The study is a comprehensive examination of a range of data indicators on America’s 100 largest metro regions.  According to the project’s website, the analysis “portrays the demographic and social trends shaping the nation’s essential economic and societal units—its large metropolitan areas—and discusses what they imply for public policies to secure prosperity for these places and their populations.”

To say that the report is data-rich is a massive understatement (if that’s not an oxymoron), and I don’t pretend to have digested all of it it.  I did, however, take a quick look at the report’s commuting data (presented in interactive form here), and out of the 100 regions these are the best and worst performers:

  traffic in Madison, WI (by: Greg Timm, creative commons license)

Regions with the smallest shares of workers driving alone to work:

(National average share for 100 largest regions: 74.0%)

  1. New York-Northern NJ-Long Island NY-NJ-PA              50.3%
  2. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont CA                           62.4%
  3. Honolulu HI                                                               64.2%
  4. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV         66.3%
  5. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue WA                                      69.0%

There are no surprises among these good performers.  These are regions with an abundance of walkable neighborhoods and a strong commitment to public transportation.  I’m pleased to see the DC area on the list, though it’s a little frightening to consider that the reach of our metro area now includes part of West Virginia.  Boston and Portland came in at numbers 6 and 7, respectively, on the list with the smallest shares.

Regions with the largest shares of workers driving alone to work:

  1. Youngstown-Warren-Boardman OH-PA              85.1%
  2. Wichita KS                                                      84.6%
  3. Akron OH                                                        84.4%
  4. Baton Rouge LA                                               84.1%
  5. Knoxville TN                                                    84.0%

I was a little surprised to see two older industrial regions among the metros with the highest shares of driving.

The next two categories reveal which regions improved or worsened the most during the last decade:

Austin's light rail (by: Ben Woosley, creative commons license)  commuting in Phoenix (by: Octavio Heredia, creative commons  license)

Regions whose share of workers driving alone to work decreased the most since 2000:

(National average change in share for 100 largest regions: -0.2%)

  1. Austin-Round Rock TX                         -3.6%
  2. Dayton OH                                          -3.3%
  3. Portland-S. Portland-Biddeford ME        -3.2%
  4. Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown NY       -2.9%
  5. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk CT           -2.7%

Some of Austin’s improvement may be attributable to the light rail line (above left) that has become operational there since 2000.  I don’t have a ready explanation for why the other improving regions placed as they did.

Regions whose share of workers driving alone to work increased the most since 2000:

  1. New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner LA          +5.3%
  2. Modesto CA                                        +3.3%
  3. El Paso TX                                          +3.2%
  4. Las Vegas-Paradise NV                       +3.0%
  5. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura CA      +3.0%

Among the bad performers, New Orleans can be excused because of the Katrina tragedy.  The other four are all Sun Belt regions where sprawl worsened during the decade.  I believe the last year of data that Brookings accounted for was 2008, though, only a few months into the recession and suburban housing collapse that affected the Sun Belt particularly hard; I wonder how the data may have changed since then.

  Google transit in San Francisco (by: Steve Rhodes, creative commons  license)

I think the share of workers driving alone is the most environmentally relevant of the mode-share statistics in the report.  If three-quarters of us drive to work nationally, a reasonable goal of public policy might be to lower that share to two-thirds.  Even more relevant environmentally might have been a measure that also took into account the average distance driven by commuters, since that might more closely track carbon emissions and also be a richer data point for metropolitan land use policy.  After that, I think that the walking/bicycling share would be particularly revealing.  We don’t have those from the Brookings data (this was not primarily a transportation study), but we do have information on public transit usage:

Regions with the highest rates of commuting by public transportation:

(National metro average: 7.0%)

  1. New York-No. NJ-Long Island NY-NJ-PA         30.4%
  2. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont CA               14.4%
  3. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV    13.4%
  4. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA-NH                  11.7%
  5. Chicago-Naperville-Joliet IL-IN-WI                    11.3%

Those five are the only regions in the country scoring above 10%.  I also wish that, for all the statistics but especially this one, we had a national median as well as a national average.  The sheer number of transit commuters in the New York region is high enough to have an outsized influence on the national average.  (Incidentally, a somewhat different accounting of commuting data from the Census for 60 metro regions does include national medians, as well as walking and bicycling shares.)  In any case, 7% nationally is a very low rate; the median share is probably even lower.

Regions with the lowest rates of commuting by public transportation:

  1. Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville FL                    0.3%
  2. Lakeland-Winter Haven FL                               0.4%
  3. Knoxville TN                                                   0.4%
  4. Tulsa OK                                                       0.4%
  5. Greenville-Mauldin-Easley SC                          0.4%

preferred parking (by: Richard Drdul, creative commons license)That’s just pathetic, particularly for Knoxville and Tulsa, which have sizable populations and should have well-functioning transit systems (which isn’t to say that they do, obviously).  Knoxville is also a “winner” among the regions with the highest drive-alone shares.

Carpooling, by the way, is most popular in Bakersfield CA, Honolulu HI, Stockton CA, Cape Coral-Fort Myers FL, and McAllen-Edinburg-Mission TX, whose carpooling shares ranged from 17.1% to 14.2%, soundly beating the national metro average of 10.3%.  Carpooling is least popular in the New York-Northern NJ-Long Island region, followed by Akron OH, Youngstown-Warren-Boardman OH-PA, Springfield MA, and Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor OH; the shares ranged from 7.3 to 8.1%.  It is a curious coincidence that carpooling is unpopular in both the New York-NJ region, whose drive-alone share is among the lowest, and in Akron, whose drive-alone share is among the highest.

All of the Brookings data, including several video explanations, may be accessed here.  An interactive site that slices and dices not just commuting data but also information on population, race and ethnicity, immigration, age, households and families, educational attainment, work, and income and poverty, may be accessed here.  It reflects all 100 regions in the study, not just the best and worst performers that I highlight in this post.

Move your cursor over the images for credit information.

Kaid Benfield writes (almost) daily about community, development, and the environment.  For more posts, see his blog’s home page.

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