Even without leaving a footprint, Brian Scheinblum is gaining quite a following.
Through green cleaning supplies, new light bulbs, efficient HVAC systems and the LEED-certified buildings themselves, he’s trying to make Cambean Hospitality LLC carbon-neutral. And he can back every green decision for customers, investors and his 70 employees.
“Any time you make changes, it takes time for people to understand the reasoning behind it,” says Scheinblum, president of the hotel management company.
He began by hiring HVS, a hotel valuation and consulting firm, to conduct an operations sustainability analysis to quantify the company’s greenness. And then, as he acted on its suggestions to be more energy-efficient, he researched every step to make sure that it benefited more than his own eco-consciousness.
“We’ve learned that there are considerable saving opportunities, which will give us hopefully an advantage over some of our competitors with a lower cost structure,” says Scheinblum, who led the company to 2008 revenue of about $10 million.
Smart Business spoke with Scheinblum about how to be sure about being green and how that convinces others to follow.
Analyze potential savings. I strongly recommend to anybody out there that they analyze what their [energy] costs are, what their impact on the environment is and what the benefits are.
[To conduct an operations sustainability analysis], they do a full walkthrough of the property, looking at everything that utilizes energy. We looked at transportation of our employees. We looked at transportation of trash. Of course, we have the standard: the gas usage, the electricity usage, water usage.
They gave us an analysis of what we were spending and then they gave recommendations of things that we can do, costs to do these different things and what the savings would be. Like our water fixture retrofit they’re estimating an $800 cost and the payback period of .8, which means the return on investment’s 125 percent. So that’s something that we look at and say, ‘OK, that’s something that we should do immediately because there’s a great return on investment.’ And this was a matter of just changing aerators on faucets.
I’m not saying that somebody has to go out there and hire a company to do this. I think people can do this themselves. They can find all of that data within their operations. Look at all the different light bulbs. Look at all the different faucets, the toilets, everything else that they’re using and say, ‘Where can I get savings here?’
It’s pretty easy to go online these days and do a search and see the cost of a replacement item and make a determination: ‘OK, well, if I’m using a 60-watt bulb now but my replacement bulb is a 13-watt compact fluorescent, I’ve saved 47 watts. My cost per watt on my electric bill is this amount. I’ve paid for that replacement bulb in six months. I’ve got a 200 percent return on investment.’ It’s pretty simple math; it’s a matter of taking the time and making the effort. These are not things that just necessarily help the environment; they definitely help the operating cost of any business.
Share your research. As far as my employees, my investors, my staff, there were different people to get on board in this. Obviously, [investors] expect to get a return on investment over time. Things like cleaning supplies where we’re able to do an analysis and show that after the initial expense we’re going to be saving 70 to 80 percent on our recurring costs that was an easy sell and that’s an immediate return. Something such as lighting, you have to show them that over time it’s something that’s going to pay for itself in reduced maintenance expenses, reduced energy costs, longer life. Investors are in business to get a return, so you have to show them where that works.
Just do your homework. The numbers are there. It makes financial sense to make these changes, not just environmental sense. We’ve been able to show that we’re going to have 70 percent savings on cleaning supplies by making these changes. There was a little bit of cost upfront and purchasing the machines that are required for mixing the chemicals which, in cases, companies will give you for free. But in the long run, it’s a big savings in cost with a quick return.
So if you have to present the budget for it, the numbers are very easily attainable. Any of the suppliers for the products will be able to give you those numbers.
Whereas I’m personally extremely concerned for the environment, I have to be aware that not everybody is. It has to be a decision that makes sense. You can’t be altruistic and not be profitable. At least be able to show that eventually you’ll be profitable. Otherwise, you’re not going to get the financial support to do these things.
Pass on the savings. One of the things that we really tried to do is educate people so they see how easy it is to do certain things. They can take this information home with them and be more environmentally conscious when they’re at home, as well. Show them that there isn’t a lot of cost involved in some of the things [and that] they can be done without any inconvenience to them or any change in their lifestyles.
People that are working for us also have homes. They’ve seen that we’ve been able to be just as efficient but we’ve been able to do it at a lower cost, and that’s something that hits home with these people who are living paycheck to paycheck right now. If we’re making changes that are going to save us money, it’s something for them to follow. So getting the employees to adopt these practices has been pretty easy.
We’ve set up a sustainability committee that is made of different department heads. We’ve asked those people to come up with ideas and suggestions on changes that they could see us implementing. And then on almost a daily basis, the department heads meet with their employees, and if there’s something new that we’re going to implement, they’re explaining to them, training them.
How to reach: Cambean Hospitality LLC, (305) 672-5858 or www.cambean.com