By Cindy Atoji Keene
Scot Hopps gets plenty of teasing at the Lenox Hotel for his incessant attention to detail, including his vigilance to “light patrol” – swapping out the occasional rogue incandescent bulb to more energy-efficient LED. Hopps, the “Director of Green,” an environmental program manager for the Boston luxury hotel, is responsible for championing the hotel’s numerous environmental initiatives, including hybrid vehicles, filtered water stations, LED roof signs, waterless urinals, and an entire hypo-allergenic floor. It’s more than a “green” hotel movement, though, said Hopps. “ ‘Green’ is definitely the term du jour but the duration and scope of what we are doing is more about sustainability and a long-term scope that encompasses not just the environment, but also a dedication to community, service, health, and business.”
Q: Isn’t it difficult to be green and also a luxury hotel?
A: That’s one of the myths about sustainability – that it limits or reduces pleasure, or that “I don’t get to have as enjoyable an experience because I’m thinking about being green.’ But the opposite is the truth. For example, if you’re eating local seafood and taking the T instead of driving, these are all enhancing your experience of green travel in New England, as well as allowing you to really enjoy the city. For the Lenox Hotel, many of our environmental efforts are behind the scenes, such as employee uniforms created from recycled plastic bottles, soy-based ink for all our printing, or washable plates and cups in our employee cafeteria.
Q: What projects are you currently working on?
A: We’re making an ambitious attempt to completely eliminate plastic water bottles from the hotel by installing filtered water stations on each floor as well as having attractive carafes and glasses in each room. And instead of single-use shampoo, conditioner and moisturizer bottles, we’re also working on implementing amenity dispensers in guest rooms, which eliminates a huge amount of waste.
Q: The Lenox is over a hundred years old. Does that make greening the property more difficult?
A: Yes, it does, and I’ll give you an example. The lobby has incredible chandeliers and when I tried to replace the decorative candelabra bulbs with LED technology, it didn’t have the right warmth and charm. So instead of using an inadequate off-the-shelf solution, we partnered with a vendor who customized the LED bulb till we were able to put it side-by-side with the existing bulb and not tell the difference.
Q: What’s the best way to find out if a hotel is sustainable?
A: More travel search engines are adding the option for guests to be research which hotels are ‘green.’ But there is an overuse of green marketing online – almost all hoteliers are making environmental claims, so the best way is to ask questions when talking to the front desk or when calling to book a room.
Q: How did you get interested in sustainability?
A: Before I earned my engineering degree, I worked in just about every hospitality role, from overnight bellman, room service, housekeeping, and hotel manager. Later, I worked for a company that installed renewable energy systems. So it was a great marriage of the two. In addition, as a scuba diver, I am very interested in protecting our natural world.
Q: What energy conscious measures do you take at home?
A: I am the one who runs around the house and turns off all the lights, much to the dismay of my wife, who is often walking right back into that same room. I would also like to create a system where my dog’s rambunctious energy can somehow be harnessed into heating the house, but I haven’t figure that out yet.