“Green” is integral to company branding in almost every industry, typically seen in how products are made and how they perform. But in people-focused industries such as hotels, sustainability starts at the top. Visit the new headquarters of Wyndham Worldwide in Parsippany, New Jersey, and you’ll see how that happens.
The headquarters comprises two adjoining structures: one LEED Silver-certified building completed in 2006 and currently in the process of obtaining an Existing Buildings certification, and a second aiming for LEED Gold when occupied by the end of this year. The whole complex actually hosts green tours for franchisees and outside groups, and with the natural lighting in the offices, window orientation reducing summer heat load, bike parking and showers, carpool and hybrid-prioritized parking, and an on-site eco-car wash, the green features are readily apparent to visitors of the three-story, glass and granite buildings.
The complex has a white-membrane roof and a building parking-lot configuration that spares a neighboring residential area from light pollution. Deep within the office campus is LED lighting, mechanical systems that use variable-frequency drive technology, and a tight building envelope that reduces energy costs.
But visit on an exceptionally hot summer day, and the building systems will allocate electricity more efficiently through a demand-response program. “We have a sophisticated building management system that reduces electrical loads on demand, which includes light reduction in some corridors, cutting five elevators down to three, and modified HVAC set points,” says Frank Campana, Wyndham’s senior vice president of corporate real estate and facilities. He adds that many employees use the stairs instead as part of an employee wellness program. Wyndham joins other companies in the area to avert regional power brownouts and earn a price cut from the utility.
Projected internal rate of return thanks to special New Jersey rebate programs
M&E Engineers, who did the energy modeling for the building, says that all of these energy-efficient measures will bring a real return on investment because of a special program. “For [this] project, the energy savings would yield an initial rate of return of 11 percent by themselves,” says William Amann, president of M&E. “However, we enrolled the project in the Pay for Performance program with the New Jersey office of clean energy, and the rebates will potentially improve the IRR to 21.4 percent.”
Wyndham also participates in other New Jersey environmental programs, purchasing carbon offsets and energy-efficient materials that are part of why it was named first in the hotels category of Newsweek magazine’s Green Rankings in 2011 and 2012. Wyndham has approximately 631,800 hotel rooms in 66 countries under 15 hotel brands including Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, Ramada, Days Inn, and Super 8, among others.
The greening of Wyndham benefits from rebate and cost-reduction programs from the state and utility companies, but it began with a company reset in 2006, when former parent Cendant Corporation spun-off the hotel business as an independent, publicly traded company. “That’s when we studied employee opinions and found that sustainability was important to them,” Campana says. “They are very cognizant of how this affects the outside environment as well as the workplace itself.” Employees actively recycle, carpool, and use a company-provided shuttle system to and from the commuter rail station.
Wyndham as a company is growing, so it built to accommodate a slightly larger future workforce. But it also is looking at alternative work strategies that might mean telecommuting for some employees, reducing the need for corporate office space.
“We consider everything where it comes to employee productivity and energy efficiency,” Campana says. “It’s about doing the right thing for the right reasons. When we break it down, it ultimately always makes financial sense.”