SHANGHAI—Marriott International will invest $500,000 (approximately 3.4 million RMB) in seed money over the next two years to support a vital water conservation progra m that helps protect the largest source of fresh water on the planet, located in the mountains of Southwest China. The program will focus its work in Sichuan Province, the area hit hard by the 2008 earthquake. Concurrently, Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels throughout China have committed to reducing their water and energy use by 25 percent by 2017.
The program, called the “Nobility of Nature,” is designed to assist rural communities in Sichuan Province with sustainable businesses, such as mushroom farming and honey production, which will place less stress on the environment. Reducing erosion and sedimentation will also improve water quality downstream in both rural and urban areas.
Marriott International associates and the owners of its hotels in China have a special connection with Sichuan Province. Together, they raised more than US$3 million (approximately 20.5 million RMB) to help provide disaster relief to victims of the May 2008 earthquake which took the lives of nearly 70,000 people.
“Marriott is committed to doing business in China and to the well-being of the Chinese people,” said J.W. Marriott Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Marriott International. “There’s a Chinese proverb, ‘when drinking the water, consider the source’. Water is the key to prosperity and sustained economic growth. Helping to develop viable ways to preserve the water supply and conserve water in our hotels is important to our business, our associates and our customers,” said Mr. Marriott.
Marriott expects to operate 60 hotels in China by the end of this year, making China the company’s most important market outside of North America. “This enables us to demonstrate our shared vision of innovation, opportunity and respect for the environment while further strengthening our 20-year commitment to the people of China,” said President and Chief Operating Officer Arne Sorenson.
In addition to its investment in Conservation International’s (CI) fresh water project, Marriott’s corporate food and beverage team is also developing a sustainable seafood program globally, providing guidelines for chefs and purchasing managers. Marriott will work to actively seek more sustainable alternatives for its menus around the world. Marriott and CI recognize that this is a journey and will work together to make this program a model for the industry.
Marriott also has been focused on reducing its greenhouse emissions through aggressive conservation programs:
- Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in China and around the world are committed to reducing water and energy usage by 25 percent by 2017. Specifically in China, Marriott’s hotels have reduced water usage by 13.5 percent and energy use by 15.7 percent in the past two years.
- Marriott’s 45 hotels currently operating in China are engaged in several operational practices such as recycling paper, metals, bottles, cans and batteries; installing low-energy light bulbs using 80 percent less energy than conventional bulbs; and using tea tree oil to help maintain clean air conditioning units.
- In April, Marriott headquarters in the U.S. was awarded a gold medal for green buildings by the U.S. Green Building Council, a milestone against the company’s worldwide goal to have 300 LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified properties in five years. The company has unveiled a LEED prototype for its Courtyard brand.
- Worldwide, Marriott is investing in innovative, large-scale conservation projects that help address some of the most pressing environmental problems. In addition to the new water conservation program in China, Marriott is partnering with the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation and the Brazilian State of Amazonas to protect 1.4 million acres of endangered rainforest, called the Juma Sustainable Reserve. This REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) project has been recognized as a model for avoided deforestation to address climate change.
“Marriott’s latest commitment toward addressing environmental issues sets a high bar,” said Peter Seligmann, Chairman and CEO of Conservation International. “We are pleased that our partnership with Marriott centers around our work in China and on such an important issue as fresh water. We also look forward to working with Marriott and other hotel companies to strengthen the entire industry’s commitment to sustainable seafood sourcing.”
CI will join the Pingwu County Government and a local environmental group, Shan Shui, to provide training and resources to the local communities involved in the project.
Marriott International currently operates 45 hotels in China representing its JW Marriott, Marriott, Renaissance, Courtyard by Marriott, Marriott Executive Apartments and The Ritz-Carlton Hotel brands. More than 25 hotels are under construction or being planned in China through 2013.
Marriott International is a leading lodging company with more than 3,400 lodging properties in 70 countries and territories. Marriott International operates and franchises hotels under the Marriott, JW Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton, the Autograph Collection, Renaissance, Residence Inn, Courtyard, TownePlace Suites, Fairfield Inn, SpringHill Suites and Bulgari brand names; develops and operates vacation ownership resorts under the Marriott Vacation Club, The Ritz-Carlton Destination Club and Grand Residences by Marriott brands; licenses and manages whole-ownership residential brands, including The Ritz-Carlton Residences, JW Marriott Residences and Marriott Residences; operates Marriott Executive Apartments; provides furnished corporate housing through its Marriott ExecuStay division; and operates conference centers. The company is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, USA and had approximately 137,000 employees at 2009 yearend. It is recognized by Fortune magazine as one of the best companies to work for, and by Newsweek magazine as one of the greenest big companies in America. In fiscal year 2009, Marriott International reported sales from continuing operations of nearly $11 billion. For more information or reservations, please visit our web site at www.marriott.com. For the latest company news, please visit www.marriottnewscenter.com.
Conservation International (CI): Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature for the well-being of humanity. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents. For more information about CI, visit www.conservation.org.