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Bonaventure Awarded Green Seal's Silver Certification for Its Eco-Efforts

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, August 28, 2009, at 11:34AM
Bonaventure Green Seal Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Westin Bonaventure Hotel General Manager Michael Czarcinski and Councilman Richard Alarcon pose with a certifacte given to the hotel in honor of its Green Seal Silver Certification.

Councilman Richard Alarcon has been trying to build green business programs since his days in the state senate. In March of 2007 he first introduced a motion at City Council asking for the creation of a certified Green Business program.

Today he got a win, as he joined Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in honoring the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites for its work to obtain a Silver Certification from Green Seal.

"The program will be expanded very quickly in the next couple of weeks to include other kinds of businesses," said Alarcon, "but the Bonaventure is the first. And what do they say? You never forget your first."

As the group on-hand for the presentation laughed, Alarcon showed off his comedic skills. "I know what you're thinking," he said. That prompted Villaraigosa to advise the Councilmember to "stop while you're ahead."

Alarcon, Villaraigosa and LA INC, the city's convention and visitors' bureau, hope to see hotel greening continue. The city and LA INC are working to launch the LA Green Lodging Program to encourage hotels to seek Green Seal's certification.

"We should all celebrate this milestone today," said Villaraigosa, "but tomorrow I want you to look at this hotel and see something else. Instead of a milestone, I want you to see a challenge. Who here in Los Angeles is going to be the next green hotel?"

The Bonaventure spent only $20,000 on its efforts, but expects to save $225,000 annually. Changes were led by the hotel's Green Team, which it assembled to spearhead conservation efforts.

Their work involved implementing a recycling program throughout the hotel, training programs for staff, moves to ensure that washers and dryers are filled to capacity before they are run and the use of cleaning supplies with low toxicity.

Seemingly simple moves can pay big dividends for a structure the size of the Bonaventure, the city's largest hotel. By setting copy machines to default to double-sided copies, the hotel was able to reduce paper consumption.

"We will save 2.4 million pieces of paper this year," said General Manager Michael Czarcinski. "We used to buy two pallets per month, but now just with double-sided copies, this team has changed that culture."

While praising the hotel's reduction in water use, Villaraigosa got an awkward chuckle from the crowd when he mentioned his own efforts. His house was in this news this week for an NBC report showing sprinklers watering his back lawn on days where sprinklers were forbidden by the city's drought rules.

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