NYIT students recently partnered with The Benjamin, one of New York City’s first environmentally friendly hotels, Green Key Global, and the Hotel Association of NYC Sustainable Hospitality Committee to launch the first experiential sustainable hospitality program to earn hotels a Green Key Eco-Rating. This certification recognizes hotels, motels, and resorts committed to improving their environmental and fiscal performance.
Robert Koenig, Ed.D., director of the NYIT Global Center for Hospitality Management and associate dean, School of Management, designed a case study (HOSP 465: Experiential Based Learning; Practicum in Hospitality Management Sustainability Experience) and led a team of 10 hospitality studies students in collaboration with the leadership of The Benjamin Hotel. Acting as a consulting team, the students reviewed five key areas: corporate environmental management, housekeeping, food and beverage operations, conference and meeting facilities, and engineering. They collected and analyzed data, strategized alternative eco-solutions, and delivered recommendations for sustainability improvements that will ultimately lead to a Four Key Eco-Rating for The Benjamin.
Breaun Perez, NYIT Class of 2017 who participated in the practicum, explained, “My teammates and I suggested ideas such as replacing exercise equipment that uses electricity for energy-producing equipment to also power fans, televisions, and lights in the hotel’s fitness center. We also recommended an easy-to-implement composting program, using oil-waste removal services in the kitchen, and incorporating green meetings capabilities to utilize digital devices in all aspects of the conferences process, among other efforts.” In summing up her experience, Perez noted she has gained confidence and knowledge relating to how a hotel runs.
"One of the many strengths of our curriculum is this type of partnership with industry leaders," said Koenig. "These opportunities give students unique professional experience in support of our academic course learning outcomes." Hilton Times Square will be the hotel partner for the practicum case study offered in the fall 2015 semester.
“The Benjamin is known best for its wellness programs, and supporting sustainable efforts is inherent to our guest experience,” said General Manager Steve Sasso. “The opportunity to participate in this pilot program was truly valuable. The NYIT Hospitality Studies students demonstrated an eagerness to learn about our operational parameters and also proposed relevant, environmentally sound strategies to help us achieve our Four Green Key rating.”
For more than 15 years, the Green Key Eco-Rating Program, a graduated rating system, has been evaluating and certifying properties in North America and beyond on the extent of their sustainable initiatives. Based on the results of a comprehensive environmental self-assessment, lodging facilities are awarded a rating from 1 to 5 Keys, 5 Keys being the highest attainable.