Sustainable spotlight: Network for Business Innovation and Sustainability (NBIS)

September 30th, 2014 by TRT Blog

One of the best parts about working to make the world a greener place is the opportunity to learn from others that share our vision. This week, we spoke with Mary Rose and Karl Ostrom – executive directors at the Network for Business Innovation and Sustainability (NBIS) of Seattle, Washington – about its latest ventures in sustainability.

Mary and Karl founded NBIS in 2003 with a mission of guiding regional businesses, across sectors and industries, towards best practices that create healthy ecosystems and prosperous communities through the power of business. Over the past year alone, NBIS has made a significant difference.

NBIS’ By-Product Synergy NW, is a long-running initiative bringing companies together to reuse and repurpose waste into new products. In conjunction with this, NBIS has developed an online portal, the Materials Innovation Exchange, which provides users an outlet to sell, buy, trade or donate a variety of products ranging from heavy-duty industrial equipment and chemicals to fabrics, plastic and wood. The Materials Innovation Exchange helps turn waste to revenue by showcasing innovative reuse strategies for unneeded materials.

Mary Rose, co-director, NBIS:

Mary Rose, co-director, NBIS:

“We’ve been working with business leaders on new strategies for accelerating sustainability to reduce impact,” said Mary.  A recent whitepaper by Karl, New Challenges Reshaping Corporate Social Responsibility, highlights the importance of this work and urges all businesses to incorporate visionary benchmarks of environmentally and socially responsible business performance into their frameworks.

“The goal is to illustrate the need for more aggressive sustainability leadership to move beyond incrementalism. We aren’t going fast enough and we’re not having the impact that the planet needs,” Mary continued.

Leading responsible businesses doesn’t come without its challenges. Mary stated the need for collective and collaborative strategies to break down common barriers, such as the: “race to the bottom – the pressure for lower prices, lower wages, and all the pressures that keep companies from taking full responsibility for their impacts.”

Karl shed light on the damaging anti-regulatory mindset of many companies, “They need regulation to level the playing field when it comes to getting rid of toxic chemicals or lowering carbon footprints in supply chains. They really need to learn to work together to lobby government for policies that make sustainability the profitable thing to do. Instead of rewarding the people that externalize environmental and social impacts, the marketplace uniformly needs to allow everybody to do the right thing without reducing their own competitive advantage. Everybody can win, but it requires a different mindset.”

NBIS advice? Build strong relationships, learn from each other and showcase sustainable success. Developing business coalitions to address challenges collectively is the foundation for innovative, win-win solutions.

To learn more about NBIS, please visit their website here. To be featured on our blog, get in touch today!

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Green holidays to get involved in

September 23rd, 2014 by TRT Blog

Green ConstructionIt may surprise you to know there are over 50 green holidays to celebrate throughout the year.  Earth Day, World Water Day, and Zero Emissions Day are amongst the most popular, but did you know that there’s also World Car Free Day, National Wildlife Day, and Clean Up the World Weekend? If fact, Clean up the World weekend just wrapped up on Sunday.

These holidays serve as an opportunity to not only embrace sustainability, but to raise awareness about our carbon footprints and ways in which we can lower our overall environmental impact. Could you car pool on the school run, ditch the bus and walk, turn the lights out when you leave a room or perhaps take shorter showers?

At The Refinishing Touch we provide sustainable onsite furniture asset management services to the hospitality, government and higher education sectors and actively encourage a green approach wherever possible. For businesses, the first hurdle is acknowledging the need to invest in sustainability. Green practices have proven to reduce costs over time, and improve customer loyalty and satisfaction.  We actively encourage all businesses and individuals to take a closer look at ways in which they can lower their  environmental impact for a cleaner, greener tomorrow. Here’s to celebrating a greener tomorrow!

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Cutting the carbon and the cost with furniture asset management

September 2nd, 2014 by TRT Blog

We pride ourselves on being as green as can be and taking an innovative approach to environmental management. Our onsite furniture asset management services are clean, non-toxic and eco-friendly. Revamping furniture, rather than replacing, puts less of a burden on forests – and it even reducing budgets.

Our latest infographic demonstrates the environmental impact of manufacturing new furniture. We investigate how hospitality, government and higher education facilities worldwide can lower their carbon footprints and overall impact on the environment simply by deploying a furniture asset management strategy.

There are approximately 15 steps in the manufacturing process journey. It all starts with cutting down the tree, which emits a whopping 58.3 tons of carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, transporting the tree to a factory for manufacturing expels 3.7 tons of CO2.  From tree to table the overall carbon footprint equates to an astonishing 125.32 tons of carbon dioxide.

To date, our onsite refinishing, reupholstery and remanufacturing services have saved two million trees, reduced 124.08 tons of CO2 per 100 rooms and completed 1.3 million room refinishing projects sustainably. To learn more, see the full infographic here.

If you’d like to learn more about the work we do at The Refinishing Touch, or how we can help reduce costs and carbon emissions through our furniture asset management services, please email us at

The Refinishing Touch_Cut the carbon and the cost infographic

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Greener pastures on the horizon: The Kendall College hospitality trend report

October 29th, 2013 by TRT Blog

Kendall College As a team, we’ve enjoyed watching the travel and tourism industry progress over the last 10 months – being a part of one of the fastest-growing sectors in the world has been an exciting ride. So, as we prepare to leave 2013’s successes behind, the Kendall College’s School of Hospitality Management uses its first trends outlook to shine some light on what to look for in 2014.

Of the five top trends forecasted for the new year, sustainability was a main focus. In an industry that serves so many people, environmental impacts of the business can be quite detrimental. On the flip side, when a hotel, motel or resort makes a commitment to go green, the environmental impacts are seen immediately and guests tend to respond positively.

The idea that environmentally-friendly practices are now recognized as the norm only provides optimism for the field moving forward. Having worked with passionate hoteliers for more than 35 years, it comes as no surprise to The Refinishing Touch team that ethical, green practices will continue to be brought forward.

As revenues and bookings continue to rise for hoteliers, it’s imperative to remember that customers are key. TripAdvisor has truly transformed the ways in which travelers research, book and rate their stays. Without positive guest feedback in the public domain, your target audiences may set their sights on alternate destinations. With services such as eco-friendly furniture asset management, establishments can significantly boost their TripAdvisor green ratings, as well as customer reviews.

Would you like to learn more about how The Refinishing Touch can improve your green rating? Email us today at  or check us out on Twitter: @RefinshTouch.

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The hotel renovation relationship: A recap of the Hotel News Now series

July 2nd, 2013 by TRT Blog

As avid bloggers ourselves, The Refinishing Touch team is always interested in reading the latest news, trends and opinions within our three key industries. And last week, Andria Goldin of Hotel News Now zeroed in on an area that we hold over 35 years’ worth of experience in – hotel renovations.Hotel News Now_n

In a three part blog series, Goldin discusses the top motivators, complications, and business impacts presented by such large-scale upgrades and Property Improvement Plans (PIPs). With an extensive background in providing hoteliers with cost-effective, time-efficient, and eco-friendly renovation solutions, we couldn’t stop reading and agreeing with key points made throughout the series.

The piece was highlighted on the Hotel News Now website, and touched upon the following topics:

  • Why do hotels keep renovating?
    As pointed out by Goldin, it is essential to keep a hotel up to brand standards, fresh and technologically-aligned. Hotels are renovating once nearly every three years in an effort to gain and maintain significant competitive advantage as well as investing in future ROI. Additionally, sustainability has become a critical factor to business success, as consumers become more environmentally aware when booking reservations. With services such as our furniture asset management, hoteliers are able to capitalize on each of these requirements simultaneously, while reducing total project expenditure when compared to buying brand new assets.
  • Minimizing inconvenience during renovations
    Although renovations are planned to benefit the consumer, guests are often misplaced and disturbed by the common construction process – which has the unfortunate potential to lead to the loss of lodgers. Hoteliers often look for an alternative, quick solution during upgrades, such as our on-site furniture refinishing and re-upholstery, that allow establishments to remain open for business, and with little to no disruption to customers.
  • Renovations impacting meetings business
    A loyal, returning customer is an asset to a business and throughout the duration of a renovation, the satisfaction of these guests must remain a top priority to management. For this reason, a customer retention plan should be an essential part of the initial planning phase, and the implementation of services that promise little to no guest disruption should be chosen to carry out such goals.

When a hotelier begins to plan for PIPs, the act of repurposing assets, as opposed to buying new, should be considered, as it will result in an end project that is beneficial to ROI, customer satisfaction, the environment and a property’s overall value.

To read Andria Goldin’s full blog series, please click here. To learn more about how The Refinishing Touch can help your business renovate effectively, please visit our website and request a free quote today

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Sustainable and cost-efficient hotel chain, Element, breaks ground in Orlando

June 19th, 2013 by TRT Blog

The Refinishing Touch gives tips on how hotels can go greenWorking to further the sustainability and budget-efficiency of establishments within the hospitality, government and higher-education sectors, The Refinishing Touch is fully submerged in the world of green development and fiscal responsibility.

One of the most progressive initiatives the hospitality industry has seen in recent years comes from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., one of the world’s largest and most influential travel companies. In 2010 Starwood unveiled Element, a sustainable hotel chain servicing 11 areas country-wide. Each building is fully LEED certified, Energy Star rated and made up entirely of eco-friendly materials.

With a new location planned to open in Orlando, Florida, the project is rapidly expanding and setting an exemplary environmental and fiscal example for other industry leaders. Like The Refinishing Touch’s furniture asset management services, Element reduces its carbon footprint through the use of low VOC chemicals, recycled materials and energy-efficient practices.

Whilst hoteliers search for ways to maximize budget- and project-efficiency, green initiatives don’t have to be pushed to the side. Upon making the decision to refinish, re-upholster, or repurpose existing furniture assets, the total expenditure of a renovation can reduce by up to 80 percent. Additionally, establishments who are LEED-certified, or recognized as eco-friendly, will enjoy increased ROI, customer retention, and recognition.

If you are planning your next vacation and looking for an eco-friendly establishment to stay, visit Element’s website for locations today. To learn more about what sustainable, cost-effective furniture asset management would mean for your business, please visit The Refinishing Touch’s website and request a free quote today.

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Industry surveys reveal sustainable shift in hotel accommodations

December 4th, 2012 by TRT Blog

At The Refinishing Touch, we are constantly staying informed on the latest research findings surrounding the sustainability efforts in the hospitality, government and higher education industries. These statistics give us valuable insight into our clientele, as well as provide us with an overview of the long-term goals each sector is striving towards.

A hotel employee cheerfully welcomes guests.Recently, three different surveys narrowed in on hospitality’s shift towards a greener and healthier lifestyle for guests. As providers of cost-effective, sustainable refinishing and re-upholstery solutions for many world-leading hotel brands, such as Hilton, Marriott, Starwood and more, we’ve witnessed the gradual change first-hand, and the research in these surveys offer a look into probable sustainability trends of the future:

– According to a Deloitte poll of 1,000 business travelers in the US, 95% of respondents believed all hotels should be implementing green initiatives

– The same Deloitte poll showed that 35% had taken steps to determine whether a hotel was green – through online research, requesting information over the phone or other forms of research

– A 2012 Canadian Travel Intentions survey found that 42% of business travelers said that recycling and energy efficiency matter to them when making hotel accommodations

– The Canadian report also found that 42% would be willing to pay $1 or more to offset their carbon footprint during a stay at a hotel or inn

– Euromonitor listed Marriott as the most eco-friendly brand among all global hotel chains, based off of the company’s recent pledge to reduce water and energy consumption by 20% in 2020 and initiatives to reduce its overall carbon footprint

The Marriot brand demonstrated its environmental preservation efforts when calling on The Refinishing Touch’s furniture asset management to renovate existing furniture at Marriott hotels and resorts across the US, including its Renaissance Hotels and Residence Inn subdivisions. Our services helped the hotel giant save 80 percent in renovation costs, and over 90 percent in carbon emission output, when compared to buying new.

For more information on how to increase cost savings and lessen the carbon footprint at your own hotel, university or government office, request a free quote today. If you’re curious about your personal carbon emission production, then access our carbon footprint calculator here. The results may surprise you!

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Eco-Friendly Gifts for Valentine’s Day

February 14th, 2012 by TRT Blog

It’s the season of expensive gifts, dinners and heart-shaped cards, but this year, why not shower your loved one with beautiful gifts that are also environmentally-friendly? We’ve done our research and have come up with some great ideas to please your sweetheart and Mother Nature:

Chocolates. When you’re picking out the best looking box of chocolates this February 14th, these will be free of pesticides, will help support sustainable agriculture and will support the workers who produced the. Plus, who doesn’t like a tasty box of chocolates?

Flowers. Flowers are a staple for Valentine’s Day, and although the florist right around the corner is convenient, try thinking ahead this year. Organic and fair-trade flowers cost about the same as regular flowers, but are grown with the environment and the workers in mind.

Unique Gifts.  Try thinking out of the (chocolate) box this year. Choose something for your loved one that will stand out and last all year long. Pick up a unique fair-trade gift, such this hand-painted jewelry box to make an extra special, thoughtful gift.

Regardless of the gifts you give on Valentine’s Day this year, do your best to choose those that don’t harm the environment. While it may not be the most conventional route, there are plenty of products out there that are made with recycled materials that are not only romantic but will reduce your environmental impact as well.

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Green MBAs: The most popular trend in the education sector

February 10th, 2012 by TRT Blog

As sustainability steadily moves from a trend to a necessity, we’ve begun to see all of our target industries—education, government, and hospitality—re-consider how things are done, not only to save money, but to attract customers as well. Previously underrated and essentially nonexistent, green MBA programs are finally gaining the respect and attention they deserve.

For most of these emerging green MBA programs, the courses combine traditional business with focus on sustainability and eco-friendly practices, including how finances come into play. Overall, green MBA programs teach students to combine real world business practices with a sustainable mindset. As the environment continues to be a critical, widely-discussed issue, it’s clear that the business world will need to adapt, and graduates with this new type of MBA will be at the forefront.

Babson College is a great example of how schools are integrating sustainability into its curriculum. Instead of simply offering courses related to sustainability, Babson students can choose an eco-friendly concentration. In other words, Babson treats sustainability as a focus, not an afterthought.

With the right education and determination, graduates can help shape the business world into a more eco-friendly and socially responsible place, which to us, sounds like something worth studying.

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Construction: when will it go green?

February 7th, 2012 by TRT Blog

With an increasing demand for eco-friendly practices, many industries have already begun their own initiatives in an effort to increase and standardize sustainability. With continued advancements, both socially and technologically, going green is a reality for many sectors. However, not all industries have had such luck. One industry in particular has come under fire for the little advancements that have been made in innovation and green practices: construction.

According to an article by Construction Digital, over the past few decades the construction industry has seen little movement towards green building. Although the demand for green building has increased and much of the appropriate technology is available, construction has not changed in the ways other industries have. Many have argued that the construction industry has not become more environmentally friendly due to the high costs of replacing machinery, an area which largely has seen little to zero new technology. 

Despite its past, the construction sector has a hopeful future. Sustainable technology continues to advance (as well as become less expensive) and will soon help to ease the transition into green building. However, one issue for green building that has remained unresolved is the translation from digital designs to physical materials. Exciting new technologies such as 3D printing is emerging as a technology that can speed up the building process and most likely require little man power. This technology is already being applied around the world—a 30 story skyscraper was recently completed in less than 360 hours in China using similar technology.

While as a refinishing and refurbishing company, we try to incorporate as many sustainable practices into our business as possible, we also understand those practices aren’t as plausible for other industries. We hope that the construction industry continues to look for sustainably alternatives to help it catch up with the demand for green building and structures as well as seek out new, emerging technologies to help it get there.

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