From New York to Hong Kong, Richmond to Singapore, Memphis to Montreal, St Louis to San Diego, I’ve see many of the world’s most beautiful city skylines, and one thing that always amazes me about cities at night are how many lights are left on. Sometimes entire buildings are illuminated, as I’m sure elevators and escalators are still humming, though idle. I’m sure microwaves and televisions are on stand-by, sucking up more electricity and dollars from the companies who operate out of these buildings.
My hotel is often right up in there, snug between the monolithic banks and business centers, climate controlled, well lit and welcoming. But I don’t complain about my accommodations. Ever. I’ve slept on the couches. I’ve lived in my car. I toured in a van when all of us shared a room. And as competitive as this business is, I’m delighted I’m being given an opportunity to share my experiences, my truth, my failures, my feelings, and my dreams, publically, through the medium of song, blog, or as much as I loathe them, interviews. I’m grateful inspiration still reaches me. And I am grateful for the humility the path of this career teaches me.
In February of this year I had the pleasure of traveling to Antarctica with Al Gore and Friends to learn about the stark realities of climate change and how humans play a huge role in the ever transforming health of our planet, for the good and the bad. Fortunately in recent years, our awareness, including my own, has expanded to embrace new green technologies that help our beautiful cities and countries flourish rather than suffocate.
At the moment I’m traveling through southeast Asia during a time when the Indonesian island of Sumatra is clearing land with fire, causing a haze over many surrounding countries, including Singapore, where I’ll play in a few short hours. For whatever reason the land needs clearing, it’s a people problem and likely an economic necessity. And it’s usually the things we really need that do us the most harm. Just look at the oil business in the gulf and the cancer cases that parallel the alley of oil and gas refineries in Louisiana as an example. The only reason oil spills and refineries continue to operate is because we all still need lots of it!
I learned a few years ago that I could travel with my own water bottle and greatly reduce my use of plastic. This also cuts down on the need to ship water across the world greatly reducing the amount energy I need to survive. Add this to the discovery of solar power, bio-fuel, local/organic food supply, and suddenly the home and heart is operating more efficiently. However, it isn’t always easy, especially flying from city to brightly lit city. Granted, most residents of major cities use public transportation and have a much smaller carbon footprint than I do, and many cities are getting on board with new technology to better serve their cities and guests. Tree planting is a good one, and one that I’ve recently become involved with. For it is trees that sequester and offset carbon while also providing wind breaks for desert areas which help soils, or provide shade for extremely paved areas that intensify the suns heat making a city feel hotter.
I bring this up today not to preach, but to applaud the hotel where I currently reside in Singapore, The Marina Bay Sands, for their extraordinary efforts in greening their business and beautiful sovereign state.
At 55 floors up my view over Singapore’s Gardens By The Bay is a hazy one, but it was refreshing to know that the elevator ride wasn’t in vain since the elevator’s motion also serves to generate energy for the hotel. Trust me. They’ve thought of everything here.
Upon entering my room I discover that nothing is plugged in, which is a totally different experience from the start. Usually when I walk into a room, every light is on, including the TV. But here at the Sands, they know they are saving energy AND money by not leaving everything on.
In fact it’s their standard operating procedure to only plug something in if the guest plans to use it.
- no paper check-in or check out.
- composting bowls to separate the organic waste from the rubbish.
- recycle bins.
- And even a carbon footprint report to let you know your score as a guest based on how much water, air and electricity you used during your stay.
- AND the hotel will organize the planting of a tree and/or water lilies for you to offset your carbon!
Amazing. Thank you Marina Bay Sands.
I hope these practices become a new standard for all businesses, especially those places where we live, work and play. Our hotels, our offices, and our homes.