Daily Archives: September 21, 2010

Hilton New York Unveils Eco-Centric Initiatives


Hilton New York Unveils Eco-Centric Initiatives to Celebrate Two-Years of
Generating Clean Power with Fuel Cell Technology
Largest Hotel in New York Leads with Innovative Waste-Reduction Programs

MCLEAN, Va. and NEW YORK, N.Y. – October 29, 2009 – Two years after installing one of the cleanest power generating technologies available on its roof high above Avenue of the Americas, one New York hotel is now dissolving food waste with micro-organisms to reduce garbage volume. Hilton New York’s innovative approach to eco-stewardship is apparent as it marks its second year using revolutionary UTC Power fuel cell technology by introducing four new initiatives to reduce waste throughout the hotel.

“Hilton New York is an innovator in implementing sound environmental practices, and the work of leaders like them will help New York City meet the ambitious goals in PlaNYC, our long-term vision for a greener, greater New York,” said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “Unlike most cities, New York generates the bulk of its emissions from buildings, so greening existing buildings is key to reducing carbon emissions 30 percent by the year 2030.”

Just last week, the hotel was the recipient of the 2008-2009 Environmental Recognition Program – “Green Street” Award by the Avenue of the Americas Association. This new award highlights efforts to adopt environmentally sustainable programs or improvements to the workplace. Hilton New York received the award in the Energy Efficiency /Sustainability Projects category for “Buildings Over 1M Square Feet” in recognition of its energy fuel cell which reduces the hotel’s overall carbon footprint in the community.

As the largest hotel in Manhattan, Hilton New York’s implementation of the fuel cell power system – currently the only fuel cell powering a New York area hotel -represented a huge undertaking in the hospitality industry. The PureCell® system provides electric power and hot water throughout the hotel’s 2,000 rooms, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week without combustion. The system is nearly three times more energy efficient than the electric grid when used in combined heat and power applications. Since the fuel cell’s installation in October 2007, it has produced for the hotel approximately 1.75M kilowatts per year of electricity for a total of nearly 3.5M kilowatt hours to date. That equates to approximately 6% of the hotel’s consumption. Supplementing the hotel’s energy needs with fuel cell technology is just one of the ways Hilton New York is helping the city’s environment. The Hilton Hotels brand was one of the first to employ sustainability-focused initiatives now common within the hospitality industry, such as linen and towel reuse programs; paper, bottle and can recycling; and the use of energy saving light bulbs. Hilton New York demonstrates its leadership again with its recent introduction of the following new leading-edge initiatives to reduce waste throughout the hotel:

  • Organic waste decomposition system: To reduce the eight tons of wet garbage – the equivalent of approximately 5,000 meals – once produced on average at the hotel each day, Hilton New York catering and operations team members turned to science. The hotel’s new organic waste decomposition system distributed by BioHitech America,  located in the hotel’s New York Marketplace restaurant banquet kitchen, enables employees to dispose of table and kitchen scraps into a unit the size of a chest freezer. Microorganisms and water inside the unit break down the food wastes into a disposable liquid that is ultimately returned back to the ecosystem via our existing drainage and sewer system. The digestion process, which has exceeded 100 pounds per hour, eliminates approximately 400 bags of garbage per day.
  • Water purification system: Hilton New York has implemented an on-site water purification system created by Natura® Water. The Natura® system connects to your existing water source. The water flows through two different high tech Natura® filters and then sterilizes the water through a prolonged exposure to UV light. Tap water is purified into chilled, high-quality still and sparkling water and served in re-usable glass bottles, available in the hotel’s restaurants and room service. By year’s end, we anticipate that the use of these re-usable bottles will have eliminated approximately 12,000 disposable glass and plastic bottles from daily circulation in the hotel.
  • Biodegradable guest room access key cards: Hilton New York is introducing a new room key made from biodegradable PVC supplied by Guest Access Int’l®, a pioneer in developing green products. Biodegradable key cards are part of the EnviroKeysTM line, a comprehensive program of environmentally friendly alternatives offered by Guest Access Int’l®. The biodegradation process begins when the bioPVCTM film is introduced into a fertile environment allowing the plastic card product to break down in as little as nine months. The hotel estimates that using the new biodegradable key cards will save 250 pounds of plastic from clogging landfills over the next five years.

“Sustainability is now an essential element of our hotel culture. It shapes both our actions as team members and the experiences we provide our guests,” said Conrad Wangeman, General Manager, Hilton New York. “The accomplishments of our 2,000 room hotel are significant and prove that a hotel of any size can provide a premium product while minimizing its impact on the environment.”

In addition to implementing hotel-wide sustainability initiatives, Hilton New York also enables eco-conscious guests to do their part for the environment. In August, the hotel began beta testing an opt-in housekeeping initiative to help guests minimize their ecological footprint at the hotel. The program enables guests to decline full housekeeping services for one or more nights of their stay in an effort to reduce water and energy consumption and the use of cleaning chemicals.

The bold steps taken by Hilton New York are part of Hilton Hotels’ global focus on sustainability. The brand is working to reduce energy consumption, CO2 emissions and output of waste by 20 percent and reduce water consumption by 10 percent before 2014.

“One of the biggest challenges for hotels seeking to be eco-centric is to generate a compelling return on investment,” said David Horton, Global Head – Hilton Brand. “We are pleased to share lessons learned at Hilton New York about how sustainable initiatives deliver tremendous benefits for a hotel, its guests, and the environment with our other hotels so that they can be applied across the Hilton brand.”

Machine Breaks Down Organic Waste


In less than a dozen words, BioHitech America chief executive officer Frank E. Celli manages to wrap up his company´s product description, operation manual and sales pitch: “You throw anything in the machine that you could digest yourself.”

The machine is the Eco-Safe Digester high-volume organic waste decomposition system, an aerobic digestion chamber that processes food waste and, within 24 hours, spits it out as water that meets the standards for discharge through ordinary drainage systems. And with nearly three dozen of of them in place at hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and universities across the country, Allendale, N.J.-based BioHitech is thinking bigger.

“We can potentially change the way producers of organic waste do business on a daily basis,” Celli said. “And certainly, we can have a positive environmental impact.”

The Eco-Safe Digester come in three sizes, capable of processing between 400 and 1,200 pounds of organic material a day. By way of example, however, BioHitech estimates that a company throwing out 1,080 pounds of food waste daily and paying an $80 per ton disposal rate and a $200 haul charge per pickup could find the BioHitech system paying for itself in just under two and a half years.

And in some cases, that waste reduction and its associated fuel usage can count toward U.S. Green Building Council´s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification credits.

Wood chips serve as the habitat for the microbial mix, which BioHitech recharges four times a year. The wood and any undigested or inorganic material are cleaned out every six months, though the solid waste leftovers are barely a pinch of what went into the machine in the first place.

The effluent discharged from the digester is typically about 100 gallons for every 1,200 pounds of food broken down.

Celli — co-founder and former head of Interstate Waste Services Inc. — joined the Allendale, N.J.-based company as a partner in summer 2008.

BioHitech´s 2006 origins lie in an overseas partnership: South Korean scientest Chun Il Koh, who created the Eco-Safe Digester and the “microbial cocktail” responsible for the decomposition, was seeking an American company to bring the product to the U.S.

“My partners here at BioHitech had a very large food waste collection business in New York City,” Celli recalled. “They were a logical choice [for a partner] in that they already had an extensive customer base.”

Despite the company´s potential, BioHitech wrestled with start-up issues ranging from trouble-prone prototypes to lack of a technical support infrastructure. By the end of 2008, though, it had found its footing and launched pilot programs that offered its machines for trial runs. In November of that year, BioHitech earned the Innovations in Green Technology award at the International Hotel/Motel & Restaurant Show in New York and had more than a dozen of its digesters in operation.

Celli estimates that by the close of 2009, between 40 and 45  machines will be in use across the country, representing a 150% jump from last year. And of the 35 currently in operation, only two are part of the pilot program.

No pilot program participants have opted not to buy, rent or lease the system after giving it a try, Celli said.

The 7,800-student University of San Diego installed the Eco-Safe Digester this year in its LEED-certified Student Life Pavilion.

“We´re processing roughly 700 to 800 pounds of items a day,” said Andre Mallie, the university´s executive director of auxiliary services.

Mallie said the machine has significantly reduced solid waste disposal and associated costs like trash liners, and it has garnered positive attention from customers and local businesses.

“We have been getting quite a few people looking at it,” he said. “Quite often, we get the question, ´What do you do with the leftovers?´ Now we have an education piece hanging outside the dish room explaining it.”

Though Celli declined to specify BioHitech´s estimated revenue for the year, he backed off his projection of $7 million to $10 million published in a story earlier this year in The Record, a newspaper based in Bergen, N.J.

“We won´t do that,” he said. “That´s more a reasonable target for 2010. The economy has been a bit of a struggle. We offer a green product that saves money, but we only touch a very small purchasing area of some of the larger companies.”

BioHitech America has six owners, of whom Celli is the largest shareholder, and nine full-time employees.

While working to raise the product´s profile, BioHitech also is looking to improve its service offerings through the development of services like a software package by which a multi-machine customer such as a grocery chain could remotely access all of its  units.

BioHitech and Four Seasons Hotel: Environmental Partnership


BioHitech America and Four Seasons Hotel Boston Share in Environmental Partnership on BioHitech’s GOHBio 1001 Organic Waste Decomposition Machine

ALLENDALE, NJ/BOSTON, MA (April 7, 2009) – BioHitech America, LLC, a privately owned environmental technology company, and Four Seasons Hotel Boston, have partnered on the installation of BioHitech’s organic waste decomposition system. The GOHBio system will enable the hotel to dispose of their food waste at its point of generation, thereby eliminating all traditional steps of waste removal and disposal, including trash hauling services. Resultantly, greenhouse gases will be reduced, landfill space and fuel will be preserved, and their overall carbon footprint will be smaller.

“I am delighted by our partnership with Four Seasons Hotel Boston. The GOHBio 1001 will enable the hotel to reduce their carbon footprint while reducing trash removal expenses and streamlining work flow efficiencies. My hope is that sharing in an environmental partnership with such a prestigious organization will bring awareness to alternative solutions to traditional waste services and encourage other organizations to take ownership of the sustainability of our environment,” commented Frank E. Celli, CEO of BioHitech America.

Getting Serious About Going Green


The green movement craze is over. No, it’s not because people aren’t interested. In fact just the opposite is true. Now that the press has turned its watchful eye away from the glitz and glamour of green, it’s giving hoteliers and industry suppliers and opportunity to actually get down to business to create solutions that will have widespread effect on what hotels consume and recycle.

And the adoption of a green and sustainable philosophy is starting to take place at smaller boutique operating and management companies, as well as mega-corporations. This environmental awakening was the focus of a panel discussion held at this year’s sold-out Buyer Interactive Trade Alliance & Conference (BITAC) F&B sponsored by Hotel Interactive, which is taking place this week at Wynn Encore Las Vegas.

Most telling in regards to how the sustainability movement is sweeping across the hotel business is the awakening of meeting planners and guests in becoming more cognizant of what hotels are doing to curb waste.

In fact both hotel decision makers and industry suppliers are seeing a massive sea change in demand for greener facilities. According to a real-time poll of BITAC participants, 51.28 percent of conference attendees said guests or meeting planners specifically asked about sustainability efforts. In addition, nearly 20 percent are asking basic questions.

“It was all about green-washing in the beginning. Everyone was jumping on the bandwagon. It was about not changing bed linens and saying ‘we’re a green hotel’. Or getting certified by some questionable party. It’s changing as we work at cost containment and green,” said Quentin Incao, Director of Operations, MTM Luxury Lodging, whose company just opened the Bardessono, a luxury resort in Napa seeking LEED Gold certification.

“The reason green is taking hold is it’s good business, its smart business. There’s nothing wrong with doing something that is good for the environment and saves money,” said Jeff Slye, Chief Evolution Officer of Business Evolution Consulting, strategic advisers to Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants.

According to Mark van Hartsevelt, principal Gemstone Hospitality, meeting planners are the ones that are really driving change. He is seeing more and more planners ask via survey what his luxury boutique hotels are doing to incorporate sustainability into the properties his company manage. “They’re asking what we do to be green. Do we have plastic bottles on the table? What kind of detergent do we use? If you don’t answer the question right, you don’t get the business,” said van Hartsevelt.

Tony Reiss is the executive director of purchasing MGM Grand Hotel and Casino ,and during the discussion he said that almost all companies are moving in that direction, but questions – like many others – what exactly is green anyway. “Where’s that threshold that says whether you’re green or not? We’re trying to come up with (metrics). It’s critical to meeting planners for us to have integrity and we are tracking things going forward to better understand what we can do to further this effort,” said Reiss.

Interestingly, the vast majority of companies represented at BITAC: F&B consider their organization green or pursuing an environmentally responsible initiative. In all 66.1 percent of attendees said they’re green while about 13 percent either don’t know where to begin or plan to get greener when the economy bounces back.

Even with such strong results, Frank E. Celli, CEO of BioHitech America, said there’s a misconception that green has to be expensive. “There’s going to be some economically driven answers,” he said, also noting it’s critical for the industry to have an accepted definition of what green actually means. “Green for one person might not be the same for another person. I don’t know that green is going to be defined in the dictionary.”

Donald Lee, Manger of Sourcing and Procurement with Disney World Wide Services, said do not get overwhelmed with going green, just take baby steps. He also said it’s critical the movement be driven by employees.

“We find cast members who are passionately engaged about the environment. Then we put them on a task force and ask them what can we do about going green,” said Lee.

Haussman, Glenn. 2009. Getting Serious About Going Green. New York, NY:
Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Green Option For Waste Disposal


Sunday, January 11, 2009, by Douglass Crouse, Staff Writer

Company’s steel ‘stomachs’ digest foods. 

In a chilly room crammed with boxed fruits and vegetables, Frank E. Celli popped open the hatch of one his company’s steel biodegrading machines and started tossing in bruised eggplants.

He then stepped over to the side, where a drainage pipe carried a broth –like liquid from the bowels of the machine to its ultimate destination: a wastewater treatment plant.

Celli, managing partner and chief executive officer of BioHitech America LLC, calls the machines “mechanical stomachs,” whose transformative power lies with a unique combination of bacteria.

By having the technology on site, grocery stores, hospitals, hotels, and other clients can reduce storage of waste and save money on hauling fees.  Celli’s recent demonstration was at a ShopRite in Hillsdale, which is using the largest model on a trial basis.

Celli sells the technology as much on its environmental benefits as the potential cost savings.

“Trucks can travel hundreds of miles to dispose of a dumpster full of trash from New Jersey,” the waste industry veteran said.  “This technology can help take trucks off the road and save landfill space.”

BioHitech America, the exclusive distributor for BioHitech Korea, has been in business for two years.  Celli came aboard last spring at the request of the company’s founding partners, who distribute a technology created by Korean microbiologist Chun II Koh.

Koh, who developed a cocktail of bacteria that break down a broad range of foods, had been interested in marketing his technology in the United State because of its large waste industry.

Celli had worked in that industry for 20 years, co-founding Ramsey-based Interstate Waste Services in 1999.  When the private company was sold to a private equity firm in 2006, it had grown to $150 million in revenue.  Celli left with a strong sense that the country needed more waste disposal options.

“I said to myself, there’s got to be a better way to skin this cat.  We’re just not doing a good-enough job,” he recalled.  “I don’t consider what we’re doing to be completion in the waste industry.  I think those companies can use this technology as a tool to grow their business by offering customers a new option.”

His partners at BioHitech sought someone with entrepreneurial credentials and a thorough understanding of the waste business form pick up to final disposal.

Celli spent six months doing diligence on the South Korean manufacturer and its technology to ensure it could deliver on its promise.

He wanted to be sure the machine maker could keep pace with demand while maintaining ethical workplace practices, Celli said.  That led to a trip to Seoul in October to meet Koh and tour the company’s plants.

He also had to be sure the end product could be safely processed by this country’s wastewater plants.

“I had a product and a technology that were unproven in the United States,” he said.  “I needed to feel I could be proud of this company and put my name on the line.”

The U.S.-based company’s initial business plan had some flaws, as did the equipment, Celli said.  For example, when the early models became overloaded, their casters couldn’t sustain the weight.  The machines, now in their eighth generation, have overcome those earlier problems, Celli said.

The company sells three models, the largest of which costs between $20,000.00 and $40,000.00 and can process about 2,400 pounds of food in a 24-hour period.  High water-content produce is digested most quickly, with a readout gauge that tells users when the weight capacity has been reached.

Several clients use the machines for free as part of a pilot program – the hope is that if companies like them, they’ll buy them.

BioHitech has focused on markets where disposal fees run high to ensure clients get a good return on their investment.  More than two dozen of the machines are in operation in the United States, including at supermarkets in New Jersey.

One of the clients in the Grand Canyon Lodge-North Rim in Arizona, which feeds food waste from a full restaurant, deli, employee dining room and cafe into a model designed to handle 800 pounds a day.  The company bought the machine last year, running it from its peak season from June through mid-October.

“We really put this machine through the ringer,” said Rick During, assistant general manager.  “There were days we were putting in 1,100 pound of food waste a day.”

The investment made particular sense because the lodge is so isolated, he said.  The biggest challenge was re-educating staff members, but they’ve since seen the results.  Through recycling and food waste reduction, the lodge has gone from nine to seven dumpsters, many of which only fill up partially.  During said he estimated that the machine processed nearly 90,000 pounds of food during the five-month season.

Celli next plans to investigate whether his company could collect the effluent produced by the decomposing machines reformulate it and sell it as all-natural fertilizer.  But first the company will need to test the material and build the customer base for its machines.

“We’d really like to see the technology become a standard part of the design process for supermarkets, restaurants and hotels,” he said.