Brazil's Amazonas state and Marriott have signed an agreement to support a plan to help protect 1.4 million acres of endangered Brazilian rainforest. The accord is believed to be the first of its kind. The government-private partnership is one of the first in the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation.
Marriott has committed US$ 2 million to fund an environmental management plan administered by the newly created Amazonas Sustainable Foundation. By year end, Marriott guests and group customers will also be able to offset the greenhouse gas emissions generated from their hotel stays by contributing to this rainforest fund.
In addition to offering this carbon offset, Marriott says that it is taking new steps to reduce the company's water, waste and energy consumption; green its supply chain; build greener hotels; and engage employees and guests to take action.
"This is the first project on reducing emissions from deforestation in Brazil and one of the first in the world," said Amazonas Governor Eduardo Braga. "This agreement between the government of Amazonas and Marriott will make history because it demonstrates how rainforest preservation can be used as a climate strategy."
"At Marriott, we believe the future of business is green," says Arne Sorenson, Chief Financial Officer and co-chair of the Marriott's Green Council. "Building on a 20-year track record of responsible energy consumption and waste reduction, we believe rainforest preservation is critical to reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change."
To reduce and offset its global environmental footprint, which it has calculated at 2.9 million metric tons of CO² emissions annually or .030 metric tons (65.5 pounds) per available room the hotel chain has developed a five-point strategy in collaboration with Conservation International, a global conservation organization. This includes:
* Carbon Offsets
Help protect the 1.4 million acre (589,000 hectares) Juma Sustainable Development reserve, an area rich in biodiversity. The burning and clearing of tropical rainforests causes more carbon emissions than all the world's cars, trains, SUVs and trucks combined.
Under the agreement, Marriott and its customers will contribute to a fund to be administered by the newly created Amazonas Sustainable Foundation, which, together with the State of Amazonas, will monitor and enforce the protection of the reserve. The project will support employment, education and healthcare for the reserve's approximately 500 residents. The Foundation is seeking certification of the conservation project by an independent accredited environmental auditing firm under the internationally recognized Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Standards.
* Water, Waste and Energy
Further reduce fuel and water consumption by 25% per available room over the next 10 years, and install solar power at up to 40 hotels by 2017. Expand existing "reduce, reuse, recycle" programs already in place at 90% of hotels to consistently include guest and meeting rooms, beginning with pilot hotels across all brands in Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C.
* Supply Chain
Engage the company's top 40 vendors to supply price-neutral greener products across 12 categories of its $10 billion supply chain. Some of the first products to be rolled out are annual purchases of 47 million BIC Ecolutions pens designed for Marriott, made from pre-consumer recycled plastic; more than 1 million gallons of low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paint; and 1 million "room-ready" towels by Standard Textile, which should save 6 million gallons of water annually by eliminating the initial wash cycle.
Other items under consideration include compostable key cards, recyclable carpet, and more responsibly packaged soaps and shampoos.
* Green Buildings
Allow hotel development partners to site, design and construct new hotels according to green standards by updating Marriott design guidelines in line with the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards by the end of 2009.Â The company expects to expand its portfolio of LEED-certified hotels, which already includes The Inn & Conference Center by Marriott at the University of Maryland, across all Marriott brands.
"With thousands of hotels around the world, Marriott has the scale to make a strong positive contribution to the environment," says Glenn Prickett, Senior Vice President and Executive Director, Center for Environmental Leadership in Business, Conservation International.
Marriott says that over the last decade, it has replaced 450,000 light bulbs with fluorescent lighting, introduced linen reuse programs, and installed 400,000 low-flow showerheads and toilets at its hotels worldwide.