Luxury Resort Remains the Foremost Green Operator on Island of Palm Beach
Luxury Resort Remains the Foremost Green Operator on
Island of Palm Beach The Breakers’ innovative, eco-minded initiatives permeate
guest experience and workplace
PALM BEACH, FL – Before going green became mainstream in the hospitality industry, The Breakers Palm Beach self-imposed this challenge as a pioneer in the luxury hotel segment. More than a decade ago, this iconic, 540-room oceanfront resort began to implement ecologically-friendly practices to conserve resources and protect the environment in order to enhance the quality of life for future generations.
Today, the resort operates dozens of innovative programs and initiatives that address the areas of: Environmental Protection, Sustainability, Water Conservation, Energy Efficiency and Waste Reduction, and they pervade a multitude of operational areas -- from golf to guest services to the culinary division. Some highlights include: Environmental Guiding Principles, Localecopia, the Green Market, the Organic Herb & Vegetable Garden, and even Reverse Osmosis Irrigation for the resort’s Ocean Golf Course.
1. Environmental Guiding Principles - For many years The Breakers sustained guidelines to cover waste management, energy use reduction and water conservation. In 2010, the resort initiated a formal policy requiring its 1,800 associates to sign off on these principles.
2. Localecopia (www.localecopia.org) - Founded in 2008 as an independent, non-profit organization by Geoffrey Sagrans and Rick Hawkins of The Breakers’ executive purchasing team, Localecopia plays “matchmaker” between local farmers/organic food producers and area chefs/restaurateurs/hospitality operators to encourage local sustainable business and food-sourcing. This innovative, grassroots advocacy helps chefs buy locally and assists farmers in finding demand for their products, while fostering collaboration on environmental and sustainability programs.
Localecopia works with experts in sustainability, biodiesel and alternative energy research, and has established key partnerships with the University of Florida, Lincoln Culinary Institute, and local government.
For years, Geoffrey and Rick have purchased produce directly from small Palm Beach County farms -- from Delray Beach to Pahokee to Loxahatchee -- for use in the resort’s nine restaurants, with produce picked and delivered the same day throughout the South Florida growing season. Localecopia’s mission continues their forward-thinking legacy and underscores the multiple benefits for buying local produce:
product quality -- better tasting and healthier (picked at peak ripeness, consumed almost immediately after harvest, not preserved with chemicals or radiation nor gassed to ripen)
preservation of farmland/green space that could otherwise be sold for development, soil conservation through rotation of multiple crops and use of natural farming practices that could otherwise be sold for development, soil conservation through rotation of multiple crops and use of natural farming practices
dramatic reduction in greenhouse gases, in contrast with the pollutants generated from the average 1,500 miles that commercial produce travels to reach the end user
support for local economy and farmers
3. Green Market - First launched in March 2007, the on-site Green Market, operated on Friday afternoons during Florida’s growing season (November – May) makes it possible for employees to purchase superior quality, sustainably-grown products. Modest in size but abundant in offerings, the market offers the bounty from select local farms to employees. It features a cornucopia of locally grown fruits, vegetables, flowers, bottled juices, honey and other locally produced items that are purchased by The Breakers and sold at cost to team members. Virtually all produce is cultivated within Palm Beach County and delivered within 24 hours of harvest.
The Market list: various micro lettuces, sweet corn, strawberries, heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, squash, zucchini, green beans, celery, herbs, blueberries, juices and even exotic tropical fruit. Recently, fresh, locally prepared breads and Florida grown, grass-fed beef were added to the offerings.
Reflects The Breakers’ mission to contribute to the quality of life of staff members and their families. It provides team members with easily accessible and tasty options for healthy eating and the opportunity to take responsibility for personal well-being, while educating them about fresh, local products.
4. Organic Herb & Vegetable Garden - In fall 2010, the hotel once again expanded its herb and vegetable garden, and now cultivates a greater variety of micro greens, herbs and other naturally harvested ingredients on a year-round basis for use in the hotel’s restaurants. The 2,000 square foot garden is an exceptional collaboration between The Breakers’ chefs, landscaping associates, and procurement staff, who have extraordinary knowledge of best practices in sustainability and are dedicated to making The Breakers a sanctuary of green cuisine.
The harvest of edible and aromatic plants from this 2000-square-foot garden is grown 100 percent organically; no synthetic chemicals are used. A multitude of “natural process” methods such as compost are utilized to grow food in harmony with nature, as well as purchased items such as organic soil amendments that are proven to boost plant health.
5. Rainforest Alliance (RA) Coffee - Rainforest Alliance-certified farms have met rigorous environmental and social standards including biodiversity conservation, worker protection, and healthcare and education for children of farm workers. The Breakers became the first hotel in the world to make RA-certified coffee available to its customers. Today, all nine restaurants, banquets and room service feature this product.
6. Florida-native plants for environmentally friendly landscaping - Beginning in 1996, The Breakers’ award-winning landscaping team began a dedicated effort to preserve, conserve and restore the prevalence of native plants throughout the resort property. Species such as Sabal Palm, Thatch Palm, Coco Plum, Sea Grape and others, are not only indigenous to the habitat based on scientific/historical documentation, but they reduce overall maintenance; they are wind, draught and salt tolerant, and require less water, fertilizer and soil amendments.
Promotes biodiversity. Growing natives contributes to the ecological balance that developed in Florida over the millennia, by perpetuating the relationships between these plants and the many other organisms that depend upon them for their survival.
Save time, money, energy and natural resources. When used intelligently, native plants require less maintenance, are less expensive, and save energy. Used properly, native plants require little to no extra water or fertilizer compared to most exotics.
No pesticides needed. Native plants, exposed to Florida's pests as long as they have existed in the region, display resistance to insects and disease. Conversely, non-native plants -- unused to Florida's climate -- waste energy and water, cost money and contribute to the pollution of surface water, by requiring use of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides that run off into streams, polluting related water bodies. Pesticides’ toxic effects spill over to cause health problems for wildlife and people.
Magnet for wildlife. Native plants are the ideal lure for attracting and nourishing native wildlife. They serve as food source and shelter for birds and butterflies… bestowing leaves, flowers and fruit when needed by native species, and providing the nutrients on which native animals depend after hundreds of thousands of years.
7. Reverse Osmosis Irrigation Water - In 2000, The Breakers completed construction of an on-site deep well and water facility, which converts undrinkable water from an unusable source into irrigation water for the resort property. The well pumps water from 1,100 feet deep, a level where it possesses high salt content making it unsuitable for drinking or irrigation. A reverse osmosis system is utilized to convert the water into usable irrigation water.
In 2006-2007, the system was expanded and the facility is now capable of producing 500,000 gallons of irrigation water per day.
Approximately 95 million gallons of potable water are conserved per year by using this system for our irrigation needs.
In September 2006, The Breakers was awarded Green Lodging certification by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the first hotel in Palm Beach County to receive this designation for its partnership in this voluntary state initiative. In August 2008, the resort became the first hotel in the southeast region to receive the second tier of this certification from the DEP for its improvement in three critical areas: electrical consumption, water usage and waste management.
“An environmental conscience factors into how we run our business and how we make business decisions,” said Rick Hawkins, The Breakers’ director of materials management who has served as steward of the resort’s green practices. “Our efforts include training our employees and educating our customers about our programs. Our goal is to set standards high enough to be a model for our community and our peers.” Hawkins also leads the resort’s Green Team, which consists of members from virtually every department who meet regularly to identify opportunities and develop methods for improvement. “We all share a passion for preserving our planet and reducing our carbon footprint. Our company nurtures an organizational culture that allows employees to seek improvements through the use of work teams, innovations, and adapting best practices. With the support of our management team we have been able to implement new procedures and practices that have helped in our three key areas of concern: waste reduction, water conservation and energy use reduction.”