The push for sustainability is steadily growing in the meetings industry, with event planners now conducting waste audits, and venues such as the Atlantic City Convention Center becoming LEED certified.
Hotels have been going green for years, to varying degrees. For events looking to be as sustainable as possible, these five properties have achieved the coveted zero-waste status, which is defined by the Zero Waste International Alliance as diverting 90 percent of all discarded materials from landfills and incinerators.
San Diego, California
Guest rooms: 1,053
Meeting space: 115,932 square feet
The Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina has achieved a Gold-level certification from the Green Seal Environmental Standard for Lodging Properties. The hotel began its zero-waste journey in 2011 and now diverts more than 250,000 pounds of waste annually. Each quarter, its sustainability council meets to review the property's environmental goals and achievements.
Water-conserving toilets, faucets and shower heads have been added to the Sheraton hotel, as well as occupancy sensors in the guest rooms to manage the heating-and-cooling system. Room keycards, trash-can liners and toilet paper are all made from recycled materials. In addition, the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina offers an onsite FedEx Office Center with green printing services for events. Fryer oil is transformed into biodiesel fuel, and a partnership with a local food bank ensures any leftover food is donated or composted.
Guest rooms: 129
Meeting space: 3,700 square feet
The Listel Hotel has been zero-waste for almost a decade. Since August 2011, the property has been converting all organic waste into compost, reusing all recyclables and turning nonrecyclables into electricity. To reduce its natural-gas consumption, the hotel began using solar panels, heat pumps and high-efficiency boilers to power its heating system. Waterless urinals and low-flow toilets were installed to conserve water. The Listel Hotel works with green energy provider Bullfrog Power to offset the 5 percent of electrical use that comes from its meeting rooms and public spaces.
Other green initiatives include using biodegradable and compostable garbage-bin liners, purchasing bulk amenities, and using 100 percent recycled-paper towels. Forage and Timber, the hotel's signature restaurants, are dedicated to sourcing local, sustainable food and wine, and are members of the Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise seafood program.
Guest rooms: 200
Meeting space: Three rooms that can accommodate up to 250 people
Set along the Amalfi Coast is the first zero-waste hotel in Italy. The Conca Park Hotel has achieved a 95 percent recycling rate. Instead of single-use products, the hotel exclusively uses glass containers and refillable dispensers. Empty glass bottles are also reused to make pool filters.
Breakfasts incorporate ingredients from the on-site garden, and all leftover food is composted. Rainwater is collected and used to irrigate green areas on the property. Conca Park Hotel features timed lights to conserve energy, as well as an air-conditioning system designed to pause when doors and windows are open.
Cape Town, South Africa
Guest rooms: 145
Meeting space: Eight rooms that can accommodate up to 120 people
Guest can rest easy at Hotel Verde Cape Town Airport, knowing their stay is 100 percent carbon offset. The hotel, which is right next to Cape Town International Airport, calls itself the greenest in Africa. Built in 2013 with sustainability in mind, the property incorporated cement alternatives and wood from clearing projects. Even the countertops are fashioned out of recycled materials.
The hotel uses three wind turbines, 220 solar panels, regenerative drive elevators and LED lights to create and conserve clean energy. Grey water from showers and baths is reused in the toilets, saving an average of 1,500 gallons a day. Meanwhile, rainwater is collected and used for irrigation, and an outdoor, eco-friendly pool is kept clean via aquatic plants rather than harsh chemicals. The Nuovo Restaurant and Bar infuses dishes and drinks with herbs and lettuce from the hotel garden. All other ingredients are sourced from responsible suppliers within a 100-mile radius.
The hotel incentivizes guests to get involved in its green initiatives via Verdinos, an in-house currency that guests can earn by not using the air conditioning, correctly separating waste and reusing towels. Verdinos can then be put towards their bills, spent at the hotel bar or traded in at the Renew Treatment Room.
Guest rooms: 65
Meeting space: 10,086 square feet
This Alila Villas property joined the ranks of other zero waste hotels in 2018, just two years after the luxury brand announced a zero-waste goal for all of its Bali locations.
The hotel villas were created using recycled materials, such as railway sleeper wood, and designed with lava-rocks roofs and bamboo ceilings to increase air flow and minimize the need for air conditioning. Rainwater tanks and a recyclable grey-water system conserve water throughout the property. Alila Villas Uluwatu also has an Integrated Sustainable Resource Recovery Facility, an onsite laboratory where leftover food is composted, glass and ceramics are shredded and turned into sand for green building materials, and plastic waste is converted into diesel, kerosene and gasoline fuels.