MINNEAPOLIS—Most new property-level initiatives won’t work without buy-in from the line-level employees. The Hyatt Regency Minneapolis owners and management partners knew this going into their $25-million renovation, of which a critical component was growing the hotel’s sustainability efforts.
Staff at the Hyatt—which is renovating its 533 guestrooms, public areas and restaurants—have looked to their “Green Team” to introduce innovative ways to get all departments involved.
Josh Hooker, director of engineering at the property, leads the Green Team and said all partners involved in the renovation work are on board with the sustainability efforts.
“Our construction company is very on board, and they’re forward-thinking, our designers were forward-thinking, our brand is definitely forward-thinking,” Hooker said. “We’ve had our Green Teams in place for many, many years, and we’re working hard to keep increasing our conscious environmental actions.”
A big component of the green efforts revolves around recycling. Recycling the cardboard and packaging materials from the new furniture, fixtures and equipment was a high priority, Hooker said.
“We’ve done that from day one, which is great,” he said. “And we’re utilizing local areas. All the stone in our lobby is from Minnesota so that cut down on the carbon footprint from transportation.”
In addition to recycling, energy-saving initiatives from the renovation include replacing all the back-of-house lighting to LED; low-flow plumbing fixtures; insulated drapery; closet light sensors; vending misers in all vending machines; and new fan coil units with programmable thermostats and occupancy sensors that will set rooms back to an energy-saving temperature when rooms are vacant.
Hooker said the line-level staff at the hotel was practicing sustainable efforts long before the start of the renovations.
“We were really good at this hotel already. We have an extensive Green Team that goes through, and it’s a very active Green Team so its constant education, education, education,” he said. “We provide a bunch of information for our employees so they know, and we kind of make it fun. Everyone in the back of house was recycling already so to see the construction guys doing the same was a positive spin. The employees definitely buy into it and do a great job promoting it.”
The Green Team recently took employee buy-in to the next level, instituting what they call the Hyatt Environmental Advocacy Team Bowl—a competition among the different departments to see which can be the most green.
“Our Green Team put together this HEAT bowl, and it’s a tournament between all the departments. It’s to raise awareness of what we’re actually using, what our waste is and what we can be recycling,” Hooker said. “Departments get teamed up against each other. The HEAT Team goes around and just drops in and checks on them to see what they’re doing.
“We check their trash; we check their recycling bins to see if they’re doing the right stuff.”
Departments that aren’t recycling properly are docked points, and the team with the most points at the end of the week moves on to the next round of the tournament.
“The hardest (departments) in my opinion are the stewards and banquet (and convention services) guys,” Hooker said. “They get all kinds of different stuff—anything from pop cans to bottles to paper—and then stewarding is getting the food waste, and we recycle that also. So they have a lot harder job than most.”