This past Wednesday, I joined my fellow members of the US Green Building Council – Miami chapter – for “An Evening at the Palms Hotel & Spa”. Beginning the evening at the on-site Organic Chef’s Garden for a tour and tasting, we then convened in Queen Palm (one of nine meeting rooms available at the hotel) for the “Inspired by Nature” program. We ended with a tour of the hotel and spa.
The Palms, located at 3025 Collins Avenue on Miami Beach, was originally built in the 1960’s and purchased by Hans-Joachim and Ursula Krause in the early 1990’s, going through several name changes over the years. Still owned and operated by the Krause’s and their daughters, Nicola Meyer and Katja Janzon, the Palms underwent a 20 million dollar renovation in 2008 – 2009 that incorporated green features and a shift to green operational practices.
Their philosophy statement says, “Nature is what inspires everything we do at The Palms Hotel & Spa, from the décor to products & services offered to our core company values. Our commitment to preserving the environment and to care for the world we live is expressed in all elements of our guest experience, and beyond into the local community.” Tanja Morariu’s presentation illustrated how the philosophy is applied throughout the hotel.
Currently, 85% of the lighting has been retro-fitted to LED and they expect to have 95% completed by the end of 2013. They have also installed motion sensors for the lighting in administrative offices and other non-guest areas plus centralized lighting/heating efficiency controls. Next year, the east windows will be replaced with energy-saving engineered glass.
So far, one-third of their toilets are dual-flush and using grey water. The eco-friendly commodes have sinks on top of the tanks for hand washing. The used water then drains into the toilet tank for the next flush. The luxurious “rain” shower heads and faucets are low flow at 1.5 GPM. Guests also have the option to re-use their towels and linens during their stay, thereby conserving approximately 7 gallons of water plus electricity from extra laundering.
The hotel has recycling bins available throughout the hotel, including in all guests rooms, allowing for cardboard, plastic, paper and metal to be recycled. Batteries and light bulbs are kept out of the landfills; and the hotel allows employees to bring these types of items from home for proper disposal through the hotel.
The staff cafeteria uses no disposable items. When an employee is hired, they are given their own beverage bottle (which are also for sale in the gift shop). This initiative alone saves the hotel about $10,000 per year in addition to being great for the environment.
Hotel staff uses Green Seal cleaning supplies, no aerosol at all, and 100% post-consumer recycled paper with soy ink when available. Even the pens provided in the meeting room were partly made of recycled cardboard. Dry cleaning and laundry services are all green certified as well.
Attesting to their commitment to community as well as the environment, the Palms donates “mildly used” soaps, shampoos, towels, linens and paper items to Camillus House and Clean the World
The Palms also maintains the stretch of beach in front of the hotel through the Adopt-A-Beach program sponsored by the City of Miami Beach and ECOMB (Environmental Coalition of Miami & the Beaches), and participates in coastal clean-up projects throughout the year.
In 2011, the Palms Hotel & Spa won the Miami Chamber of Commerce Sustainable South Florida Award in the Green Practices Category. They have also been recognized as one of only 17 Miami Beach hotels to receive Florida’s Green Lodging Program designation and have achieved a 3-key rating through the Canadian-based International Green Key Eco-Rating Program.
Tomorrow: The Palms Essensia Restaurant, Chef Julie Frans and her wonderful organic garden