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Earth Day 2015: Another hour of unity from brands that demonstrate sustainability all-year

At 8.30pm local time on March 28, lights and electronics were switched off across the globe as part of Earth Hour 2015.

The first Earth Hour was held in 2007 in Sydney, Australia. It is now a global phenomenon, and an open declaration of the global desire to reverse the impact of climate change. Participants switch off electricity to show that they care about the planet, with their efforts echoed by the darkening of famous landmarks such as New York’s Empire State Building, and Big Ben and Buckingham Palace in London.

EH-logos-2Earth Hour is organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), one of the largest and most respected conservation groups in the world. This year’s event was the largest to date, with hundreds of millions of individuals taking part, spanning 24 time zones, six continents and 172 countries. And it’s not just individuals that take part. Each year more companies, associations and government bodies join in to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability.

Here at The Refinishing Touch we work with a client base that includes more than 22,000 organizations in hospitality, education and government, so we often see first-hand that organizations certainly do want to commit to sustainable business practices. No good business manager or owner wants to intentionally damage our planet; they want to help inspire positive change.

As expected, this year’s Earth Hour included activities by a number of brands and businesses that we are proud to work with:

  • Wyndham Worldwide, which has won a number of awards and accolades for its commitment to sustainability, participated for the sixth year in a row. Lights were turned off or dimmed, and a number of hotels planned Earth Hour events including many holding candlelit dinners
  • Hilton Worldwide joined in for its fifth Earth Hour, allowing its 12 brands and 4,300-plus properties to get creative. As well as switching off or dimming lights and neon signs, it also held candlelit dinners with low carbon menus, sustainable cocktails, and even organized candle-making for guests
  • Marriott International participated by switching off lights and by publicizing its commitment to reduce energy and water use by 20 percent by 2020. Marriott’s Ritz-Carlton brand also held a series of fun events including candlelit stories, beach barbeques and star-lit meditation

Events like Earth Hour must be applauded for helping to encourage individuals and brands to recognize environmental change. And yet we are also proud to witness the day-to-day commitment of hotels brands such as Hilton, Marriott and Wyndham as they embrace long-term environmental practices such as furniture asset management. After all, there’s little point in any brand switching off the lights for an hour if they continue to buy lower quality, throw-away furniture destined for landfill, unnecessarily multiplying their carbon footprints by a hundred-fold. Sustainable practices pay more respect to the trees that have been cut down to make the furniture we all use day-to-day.

So we look forward to the next Earth Day on March 19, 2016. But for the 51 weeks in between, we will continue to urge all businesses to embed sustainability in day-to-day best practices.

For further information about how to plan and manage your furniture assets, please contact our team at marketing@therefinishingtouch.com.

The business case for sustainability – don’t forget the furniture

We regularly write on sustainability and how it’s in line with the mission of the hotels, colleges and government organizations with which we work.

These organizations want to reduce their carbon footprint, environmental impact, and save their bottom line. To us, and our 22,000-plus customers, furniture asset management practices such as refinishing, re-upholstery and remanufacturing are about being both environmentally responsible and fiscally responsible.

An advisory published by Hotels Combined and Accommodating Green talks about the business case for going green and how this impacts the bottom line, as well as a hotel’s brand value. The advisory shares some business cases of being green, with benefits, ideas and suggested processes to guide hotels that want to be more sustainable. Many of the points, for example: “to set a baseline to focus your efforts and measure success”, “have an action plan” and “train employees”, we agree with completely.

Balancing furniture asset managementWe would add some points to the suggestions, especially around benchmarking and setting a baseline through auditing. We have previously shared views on furniture asset management best practices such as audits and inventory management, and our 37 years of working with hotels has certainly honed our expertise. In that time we have refinished, re-upholstered and remanufactured more than 1.3 million rooms of furniture.

The report outlines the need for audits in engineering, laundry, general management, grounds and recreation, housekeeping, purchasing, kitchen outlets and front desk. This is part of the challenge of effective furniture asset management: it’s a substantial investment and needs to not just have a baseline but to be managed properly throughout its lifecycle and it needs to be an inter-departmental discipline.

Unnecessary furniture creation and unnecessary furniture waste contributes to carbon output. Cutting down a tree contributes an estimated 58 tons of carbon dioxide, transporting, making furniture and packaging adds a further 25-plus tons of carbon dioxide. Multiply those figures by hundreds of rooms in a hotel and you see the scale of the problem.

We applaud the advice from Hotels Combined and Accommodating Green but would add in the proviso that furniture, a substantial investment for any hotel, is audited, documented and tracked in a centralized furniture asset management plan across departments.

Yes, there is certainly a business case for sustainability, but don’t forget the furniture.

Want to understand how to manage your furniture? Contact one of our team today via marketing@therefinishingtouch.com to talk about best practices and the business case for furniture asset management.  

Sector snapshot: Hospitality and the greener generation

The hospitality industry is one of the largest industries in the world. It’s also an intensive business, switched on 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. This intensity is emphasized as brands, hotel owners and managers continually work to meet, react to and exceed constantly-changing consumer expectations.

One force behind this change is the ever-changing profile of consumers as new generations explore for leisure and travel for business. In the newest generation of travelers, millennials, one factor that drives their booking decisions is sustainability.

Recycle BuildingYet there may be some challenges. A recent piece by the U.S. News & World Report Travel in The Huffington Post points to a potential paradox: millennials want to see eco-friendly initiatives at hotels, but they’re not willing to pay more for them.

This could leave hoteliers wondering whether or not money spent on sustainable initiatives could be worth it. U.S. News Travel states that “it saves the hotel owners money when they take a look at the big picture” and cites examples such as spend saved on laundry costs, bottled water, reducing electricity costs, and capitalizing on the opportunity to reuse and repurpose rather than replace.

As specialists in furniture asset management, we strongly support the latter statement of harnessing the opportunity to reuse and repurpose rather than replace. We previously asked the question: would you buy a new car just because you needed new tires? Of course you wouldn’t. We know that the same holds true for valuable, well-built furnishings that hotels have invested in.

Furniture asset management is a wise business decision. We consistently see savings of up to 80 percent of spend. Just one example is a recent project our crew completed at the Hyatt Alpharetta. The establishment saved more than 70 percent of its budget by simply choosing to use furniture asset management. That’s budget that can be saved or reallocated to other projects. The project also slashed carbon dioxide footprint from a potential 128 tons to a mere 1.2.

The bottom line is that going green is good for your reputation, but it also does wonders for your bottom line.

Want to know more about furniture asset management and its green and economic benefits? Then please get in touch today.

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

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: nbis.org

Mary Rose, co-director, NBIS: nbis.org

“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!

Green holidays to get involved in

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!

Cutting the carbon and the cost with furniture asset management

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 sales@therefinishingtouch.com

The Refinishing Touch_Cut the carbon and the cost infographic