If someone were to make a list of the most visionary hotel owners in the United States, Ben Bethel would have to be on it. He may not own and operate the greenest hotel in America The Clarendon Hotel in Phoenix, but he is determined to take giant steps to get his boutique property to that point. - by Glenn Hasek
Take exterior lighting as one example. A switch from high-pressure sodium to LED lighting reduced wattage from 65,000 to just 250. A mini-split system for heating and cooling is saving Bethel $9,000 in electricity and water each month, and a switch to amenity dispensers as a replacement for plastic amenity bottles has reduced trash volume by an estimated six dumpsters annually.
Bethel is not a hotel school graduate. Prior to purchasing The Clarendon Hotel in 2004, he had zero experience working in a hotel. But he and other investors have helped turn around what once was a struggling property into a very hip location in the heart of midtown/downtown Phoenix.
Mention energy harvesting technology to Bethel and he will offer up a long laundry list of ways it is changing or could change how a hotel is built or operated. Smoke detectors, door locks and safes are just a few items that could either be powered by systems using energy harvesting, or generate energy using it, he says.
Just One Ice Machine
The Clarendon Hotel features modular carpeting, a carpeting type Bethel expects to be in most hotels in the next six years. The hotel has just one ice machine. This saves not only energy and water but also on cleaning time. Guests requesting ice give Bethel and his staff one more opportunity to interact with guests. A local company sets up and manages the recycling bins in the hotel. Two electric vehicle charging stations are available for guests.
The aforementioned highly efficient heating and cooling system is kept off entirely when guests are not in their rooms. Even in the extremely hot summer in Phoenix, it takes just a few minutes to cool a guestroom. The installation of the mini-split system meant the hotel no longer needed its cooling tower, saving the use of several hundred thousand gallons of water per month. The boiler was also no longer needed which eliminated the need for an air quality permit.
Honeycomb window shades help to reduce heat transfer. Low-flow toilets (1.6 gallons per minute), showerheads (1.5 gpm) and aerators (.5 gpm) reduce water consumption. Essential oils instead of a commonly used spray product are used to control unpleasant odors.
Perhaps no other topic gets Bethel going more than the amenity dispensers versus the little plastic bottles debate. In response to a recent Green Lodging News article on amenity dispensers, Bethel sent a list describing ways dispensers are beneficial—ways not typically considered. For example, he says amenity dispensers reduce the risk of slip and fall injuries from bottles and caps laying around on tub/shower floors. He adds that they also reduce the amount of time housekeepers have to spend bent over cleaning shampoo and other liquid spills. Bethel advocates the total elimination of individual plastic amenity bottles—even if it takes a legislative act to outlaw them.