Westin Bonaventure Takes a Serious Approach to Water Sustainability

Water conservation and recycling can no longer be considered trendy programs in the hotel industry—they are quickly becoming necessary components to any hotel’s operation—especially in California. While there are hundreds of hotels in the rapidly drying state that have incorporated sustainable practices into their daily routine, one particular property stands above the rest for its water reclamation initiative. The Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites Los Angeles, which is managed by U.S.-based global hotel management company Interstate Hotels & Resorts, has taken extensive steps to markedly reduce its water consumption, saving a precious resource for a state that is in the third year of a severe drought.

A key player in the Bonaventure’s water conservation program is Michael Czarcinski, the hotel’s managing director. Czarcinski’s passion for the Bonaventure’s green programs has ensured that the hotel has met, and often exceeded, its sustainability goals since he joined the team seven and a half years ago. “Personally and professionally, I’ve always been interested in sustainability,” Czarcinski says. “My family comes from a little town in New Hampshire called Wilton, which has always been known for its sustainability practices. It actually had one of the first landfills in America. We called it a recycling center, and that’s where we took our waste every weekend.”

About a year after Czarcinski began working at the Bonaventure, he was approached by the city of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board to be a front-runner in sustainable lodging practices. This involved getting the property Green Seal certified, ensuring that the hotel’s processes met a certain level of sustainability. Since the Bonaventure became Green Seal certified, water reclamation has become one of its top eco-initiatives. The latest upgrade to this program is the laundry reuse system from AquaRecycle, a company that specializes in reducing water waste. Installed in 2014, the system cleans and stores the water used for hotel laundry, which totals almost 7 million pounds a year. “The city of Los Angeles offers rebates for water reclamation programs, so once we were able to confirm that it was economically feasible, we decided to do it,” Czarcinski says. Today, almost 80 percent of water in the Bonaventure’s laundry system is reclaimed.

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The laundry reuse system is just one way that the Bonaventure saves water. In 2008, the hotel removed the second showerhead from all the guestrooms, reducing shower water consumption from 5 gallons per minute to only 1.9 gallons per minute and saving 10 million gallons of water per year. The hotel also installed new toilets, which reduced use from 1.6 gallons per minute to 1.27 gallons per minute. Urinals and faucets were also replaced with more efficient options, reducing water usage by 60 percent and 120 percent, respectively. Finally, the hotel reduced its interior plantscapes by 75 percent, saving money and water on their care. Combined, all of these initiatives have contributed to reducing the property’s water bill by a reported $213,939 per year, Czarcinski notes.

Additionally, utility savings extend to other categories beside water. The Westin Bonaventure is paying less in sewer fees because it’s using less water. And, because the water being used for laundry is recycled from previous cycles, it is already hot, and bringing it up to the appropriate temperature requires less gas or electricity.

While the cost savings of the hotel’s water reclamation programs is significant, the millions of gallons the hotel no longer uses are even more important because of the ongoing severity of California’s drought. In April, governor Jerry Brown asked the state as a whole to cut down water usage by 25 percent, beginning the process last month. Some communities were asked to cut back even more, as high as 36 percent. The Bonaventure was asked to cut down its water usage by 16 percent, based on its water bill and water consumption from the previous year. “We’re already exceeding the mandate,” Czarcinski boasts. Since the drought, the hotel has cut down water usage by 22 percent, all because of the installed system.

Water sustainability isn’t the only green focus at the Bonaventure. The hotel also has an extensive recycling system, composts its food waste, and uses light sensors to save on energy and electric costs. Looking to the future, Czarcinski says the Bonaventure intends to continue pushing the limits of its water reclamation program by adding another washing machine and storage tank to its laundry system before the end of the year to save another half a million gallons of water. “We’re also looking into options that would allow us to divert shower water through our reclamation system and use it for laundry, which would save another 20 to 30 million gallons of water per year,” he says. “We’re always looking at ways to improve our carbon footprint.”

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