Back to Articles
Fairmont Unmasks Its Very Own Team of “Green” Superheroes
Publish Date : 01-Jun-2011
June 01, 2011
“In Chateaus, resorts and hotels all about; We pledge to stamp evil eco-doing out
With our powers and tools at our employ; We protect the earth for all to enjoy”
TORONTO – June 2, 2011 – With Universal Pictures’ recent blockbuster The Green Hornet wowing moviegoers and the upcoming release of Green Lantern, starring film star Ryan Reynolds, hitting theatres on June 17th, masks, green spandex suits and secret identities seem to be in vogue this year. Never one to buck a trend, luxury hotelier Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is on board, although it believes superheroes tasked with saving the planet can come in many shapes, sizes and forms. Sure, saving mankind with telekinesis or the aid of a trusty sidekick is one way to go, but so is summoning the power to plant trees, convert grease into biodiesel and reduce waste through trash collection. With that in mind, Fairmont is breaking a comic book canon, unmasking its own league of green superheroes who leap (okay, how about preserve) tall buildings and their environments in order to make a positive impact in the places where we live, work and play.
Debra “Wonder Woman” Patterson - The Savoy, London
While she may not possess super human abilities, her capacity to affect change is extraordinary! When Fairmont took over The Savoy in 2005, the brand was determined to create an eco-friendly grand dame in the heart of London. In stepped Patterson, the former personal assistant to the general manager, who called on colleagues from all departments in the hotel and educated them about recycling and energy management. By 2006, the hotel was named Fairmont’s Environmental Hotel of the Year, and for her efforts, Patterson took home Fairmont’s Enviro Star of the Year award. With the recent restoration of this grand building, Patterson has continued to expand on the hotel’s sustainability efforts. Now in operations, one of her biggest pet projects has been the introduction of a new sustainable system that converts food waste into energy. It’s estimated the new waste system generates enough energy to power 20 per cent of the hotel’s guestrooms. Her efforts haven’t gone unnoticed, and while she hasn’t gotten a key to the city (yet), she was honored as the 2011 Green Champion of the Year by the Considerate Hoteliers Association.
Edgar “Doctor Shock” Peterson - The Fairmont Chateau Whistler
With a background in housekeeping and an active member of The Fairmont Chateau Whistler’s green team, Peterson is a go-getter who firmly believes that no environmental initiative is too big, nor too small. With his electric personality, Peterson, who is an assistant to the chief engineer, is also no stranger to energy saving initiatives at the hotel. Whether it’s saving more than 127 million watts through an extensive lighting retrofit or spearheading awareness campaigns like the hotel’s Earth Hour activities, Petersen has been instrumental in establishing the hotel as a green leader in this four season destination.
Lyn “Agua Warrior” Santos - Fairmont Mayakoba
Having super natural control over water may be a thing of fiction, but keeping waterways in tip top form, especially local mangroves, is something at which Lyn Santos, Ecology Manager and green team leader at Fairmont Mayakoba, excels. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and Master’s Degree in Marine Biology and Sustainable Tourism, Santos is passionate about nature and environmental protection at this resort located in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Santos has been with Fairmont Mayakoba since the resort’s pre-opening stages, when she was a member of the environmental protection team who ensured that the ecosystems were left in better condition than they were found. Recently, Santos has been the driving force behind the hotel’s partnership with Community Tours Sian Ka’an (CTSK), a community-based Mayan tour operator that works to protect natural and cultural heritage inside the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. She was also instrumental in getting the hotel verified by the Rainforest Alliance, an international non-profit organization dedicated to conserving biodiversity and ensuring sustainable livelihoods.
Jennifer “The Hawk” Heim & Chris “Mr. Marvel” Chidlow - The Fairmont Banff Springs
Dynamic duos are acclaimed in imagined cities like Gotham and Metropolis and the same rings true for the very real town of Banff, Alberta. Teaming up to tackle carbon output, invasive species and other environmental issues are The Fairmont Banff Springs’ green team co-chairs Jennifer Heim and Chris Chidlow. Heim, who has led initiatives like Spring & Fall clean-ups, invasive species weeding sessions, and Audubon Bird identification day, is also a wiz when it comes to reporting to Parks Canada on water consumption for the golf course and hotel grounds. Meanwhile, Chidlow, who also likes to don his green cape, works closely with Bow Valley Waste Management to discover new ways to recycle and has helped the property to significantly reduce its waste stream with a new composting program in all of the hotel’s F&B outlets including the Staff Cafeteria.
Cory “Caretaker X” Ledrew - The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
Calling upon the power of Mother Nature is the modus operandi of The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge’s Executive Sous Chef and Green Committee member, Cory Ledrew. With his trusty trowel and steady spade, Ledrew has recently embarked on several new ‘green’ initiatives at the resort. Most notable is a new organic micro-greens project in the lodge’s greenhouse, which is now producing miniature versions of items like arugula and basil for the resort’s restaurants. Keeping with the local theme, Ledrew, like many other Fairmont hotels of late, is creating quite a buzz with a new rooftop beehive program. Launching this summer, the new apiary will provide fresh, local honey to help naturally sweeten the hotel’s pastries and other tasty baked goods.
Joanne “The Seattle Sage” Day - The Fairmont Olympic Hotel
Some say the most powerful tool in one’s arsenal is knowledge. A prime example of this thought is The Fairmont Olympic Hotel’s Joanne Day, who had the brilliant idea to create an Environmental Fair and Green Week for her colleagues; it’s been so successful that it’s now an annual event that attracts more than 30 vendors, environmental businesses and local not-for-profit organizations. As a result, the hotel was bestowed with an award from Washington's Secretary of State. Day’s biggest success though has been the dramatic improvement on the hotel’s waste diversion from landfill. Day has been instrumental in this initiative, recognizing that an opportunity existed to expand the hotel’s recycling and composting. She worked to identify and lift barriers to achieve results throughout all departments. The results speak for themselves: ‘Solid Waste Tons to Landfill’ decreased from 48.88 tons in January 2008 to 15.26 tons in October 2009.
Joseph “The Phoenix” Kilai - Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club
Most do-gooders are often influenced by their past. For Joseph Kilai, his interest in the environment is driven by a personal passion that started during his childhood when people in his rural hometown were cutting down and burning trees to make charcoal in a bid to alleviate poverty. In 2008, he joined the resort’s green team and began planting trees in the Mount Kenya Forest. For the last 50 years, Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club has depended on Mount Kenya Forest to supply firewood for warming rooms to enrich the guest experience. In 2007, the hotel conducted some research that indicated that more than 855 trees were being cut down each year to supply the traditional “Fire in Rooms” experience. Through the green initiative, and Kilai’s passion for trees, the hotel planted the first batch of 1,800 trees in partnership with the Green Belt Movement (a cause founded by Nobel Prize Winner Professor Wangari Mathai). In 2009, the same initiative was repeated in the depleted Mount Kenya Forest, with 3000 trees planted.
Shelendra “The Sandman” Singh – Fairmont Dubai
He may be located in the heart of a desert, but Singh, the hotel’s Operations Manager and Fairmont’s 2010 Enviro Star of the Year, is undaunted when it comes to sustainability challenges and other green initiatives at Fairmont Dubai. Well known throughout the city as an ambassador for the planet, Singh has led the hotel’s fight against waste by increasing the hotel’s recycling rates from 35 percent in 2009 to 67 percent in 2010. With a Masters in microbiology, this green crusader understands the science behind eco initiatives, enabling him to effectively communicate with various departments on the tangible benefits of implementing environmental practices - from serving only sustainable seafood in restaurants to using coffee grounds as garden fertilizer. Singh along with his green team colleagues also support marine turtle conservation in the Gulf, and have initiated a satellite tracking program focused on gathering information on turtles and their environment, a first of its kind within the region.
Rei “Green Fashionista-Forward” Farra – Fairmont Newport Beach
Although she doesn’t sport a green cape, stylish spandex and sparkly boots (well at least not at work), this girly-girl of a green team leader is the brainchild of the ever popular “Colleague Garbage Bag Couture” Fashion Show at the Fairmont Newport Beach. The purpose of this yearly fashion show is to raise awareness and participation in the Cal Coastal Beach Cleanup; the largest volunteer event to clean up the coastal waterways of the state of California (which the hotel participates in every year). Farra and her Green Team send out an all points bulletin to hotel colleagues to create runway ready outfits made of…wait for it….trash! Colleagues from each department collaborate to design and create a sustainable fashion garment made out of recyclable materials. On the day of the show, staff-created garments get promenaded down the runway by colleague models with prizes handed out for the “Best Eco-Chic Design” and “Best Use of Materials”. A team of “grime” fighters has never looked so good!
Michele “The Bullion” Marcks – Fairmont Pittsburgh
Guests of Fairmont Pittsburgh are often greeted by front desk agent Michele Marcks, whose friendly personality makes her perfect for welcoming guests to the city’s only LEED Gold certified hotel. But like superheroine May Parker (aka Spider-Girl), Marcks’ day job isn’t the only thing you should know about her. She has an incredible knowledge of and passion for all things “green.” And thankfully she’s not keeping this character trait a secret. In fact, she does all she can to share her interest and educate others about what it means to truly be green, especially in her role as an enthusiastic member of the Green Team. Some recent earth friendly projects that she’s undertaken include a partnership with a local non-profit called Grow Pittsburgh, which promotes responsible urban food production, and an Arbor Day initiative that provided saplings from a local nursery to in-house guests. In the confines of her secret lair (better known as her home), Marcks is an avid gardener and recently brought in broccoli seedlings from her garden for fellow colleagues to take home and plant.
Mike “Mr. Dynamic” Ruhl – Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park
As a very “charged” individual, Ruhl firmly believes that each and every one of us has the “power” to make a difference when it comes to projects that protect Mother Earth. As Director of Engineering at the Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park, Ruhl is a passionate individual who has spearheaded a number of cost and carbon saving environmental projects at this Green Seal Certified (Silver) hotel. Some notable ones include the implementation of a MELINK System that has cut the hotel’s kitchen and laundry CO2 output by 909,937 lbs per year and the conversion of 1,547 light fixtures from T12 to T8, which has cut the hotel’s electric bill by more than $20,000 USD annually. Keeping everyone “energized” is also part of his doctrine; for example, Ruhl leverages his love and knowledge of the outdoors by leading a team from the hotel to help out neighbors like Grant Park Conservancy with their landscaping.
Graeme “The Stinger” Evans – The Fairmont Waterfront, Vancouver
Graeme Evans gets a real “buzz” when it comes to greening. He loves honeybees…but it was turtles that first inspired him. After reading about the turtle program at Fairmont Mayakoba, The Fairmont Waterfront’s Director of Housekeeping was inspired to bring an eco-project to Vancouver. Evans learned about the importance of bees and the key role they play in food production and saw a great opportunity to bring a bee program to the hotel’s rooftop garden. In 2008, Evans became a certified beekeeper. Since then he has been instrumental in developing the hotel’s bee program in partnership with the culinary team – introducing everything from honey cocktails and honey-glazed menu items to a signature honey truffle product (produced with chocolatier Rogers’ Chocolates) and regular bee tours that inform and educate guests.
The Fantastic Four – Fairmont Le Montreux Palace, Switzerland
Much like the fictional foursome from the comics, the dynamic quartet of Erwan S, Oliver B, Jill B and Martin M (last names have been withheld to protect their secret identities) bring a particular skill or ability to make the Green Team at Fairmont Le Montreux Palace a force to be reckoned with. Erwan S serves as the team leader and is appropriately pragmatic, authoritative, and creative. He often leads the team into daring expeditions such as the hotel’s annual Swiss Lake Clean Up Day. Olivier B is known as the team’s technical specialist, especially in the area of energy efficiency, while Jill B taps into her power of prose to ensure the community, guests and colleagues are kept up-to-date on the hotel’s environmental activity. Lastly, but certainly not least, is Martin M who brings a blazing passion of the planet, inspiring the hotel to tackle new projects like a recent bio-fuel initiative. Alone, they are adequate at addressing environmental issues, but together, they are a formidable and cohesive unit focused on making the hotel as green as possible.
Jeremy “The Calgary Crusader” Langemann – The Fairmont Palliser
Determined, clever, spirited…these are words that could easily be used to describe any superhero, but using them to speak about Jeremy Langemann, Executive Sous Chef at The Fairmont Palliser, is more than fitting. Whether it’s composting in the hotel’s kitchen, learning how to watch over the hotel’s local apiaries, or finding the time to champion a local food and clothing drive for a nearby homeless shelter, Langemann is someone who lives and breathes Fairmont’s pledge to make a positive impact in the communities in which it operates. In addition to keeping the hotel’s Green Team motivated, Langemann continues to seek out new ways to make a difference. New green projects include the adoption of an endangered animal in Alberta, a local house-made jam that is sold to guests, and the creation of a Green Chuck Wagon Award, made from recycled material, to recognize and acknowledge the efforts of his fellow colleagues.
While the aforementioned colleagues have stepped up in support of Fairmont’s brandwide Green Partnership program, so have many others who actively participate on Fairmont Green Teams around the globe. It is through their passion, dedication, creativity and innovation that Fairmont has been able to establish an industry leading environmental program that others seek to emulate. For more information on Fairmont’s Green Partnership program, please visit www.fairmont.com/environment.