Northwest Portland Hostel

Centrally Located – in the Heart of Portland

Sustainability Policy

1.  Introduction and Background

The Northwest Portland International Hostel, Inc., is a family-owned business founded by Jim Kennett in 1998 and is doing business as Hostelling International-Portland, Northwest and Northwest Portland Guesthouse. The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel is a member of Hostelling International USA (HI-USA). HI-USA’s mission is to “to help all, especially the young, gain a greater understanding of the world and its people through hostelling” (STEP 1.1.1a), and its vision is that “hostellers become caring world citizens who are catalysts for international exchange and understanding and who are stewards of the earth”.  Integrating sustainability management systems into the operations meets the mission and vision of HI-USA and expands the scope of world citizenship, cultural exchange, and stewardship of the earth.

HI-USA’s Sustainability Statement states that “HI-USA strives to operate our hostels in an environmentally responsible manner, working towards greater sustainability.  We will measure our impacts and communicate our progress and practices to the hostel community and the community as a whole”. As business leaders we are committed to implementing policies and procedures that acknowledge the importance of an ongoing commitment to environmental, socio-cultural and economic responsibility.

Hostelling International USA (HI-USA) has a network of hostels founded in 1934.  HI-USA is an affiliate of the International Youth Hostel Federation (IYHF).  The IYHF network of more than 4,500 hostels in 70 countries is known as Hostelling International.  In 2010, the IYHF adopted a Sustainability Charter which is based on the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s (GSTC) Criteria and designed to guide efforts in the years ahead.  HI-USA embraced the IYHF Sustainability Charter in 2011 and plans to expand internal standards to further align with the GSTC Criteria.

The Northwest Portland International Hostel voluntarily participates in a 3rd-Party STEP (Sustainable Tourism Education Program) Certification through Sustainable Travel International (STI) to ensure compliance with the GSTC criteria. STI is a mission aligned global and credible non-profit organization that provides sustainability solutions and services for tourism businesses and destinations and is recognized by the GSTC.

The Northwest Portland International Hostel’s Green Team operates under our Business Code of Conduct (Appendix A) and is responsible for ensuring compliance of the sustainability initiatives outlined therein and all quarterly and annual reporting.  Our Green Team has defined roles and responsibilities, which are outlined through-out this document.  The full list of roles and responsibilities are provided for staff and available on-site in the Hostel’s Sustainability Binder and online in the “Sustainability” DropBox folder (STEP 3.4.1a). It is our policy that all marking materials are accurate in their description of the services and sustainability credentials of the Hostel (STEP 2.2.2b). The Green Team shall work with the hostel’s management team and HI-USA’s Central Office staff to ensure sustainability credentials and initiatives are marketed accurately locally, nationally and globally.  The hostel’s Green Team is required to meet a minimum of three times per year.  Meeting minutes are required and shall be kept on file electronically (STEP 3.2.3b).

This Sustainability Policy is a living document and the HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland International Guesthouse pledge to annually review and revise strategies, policies and procedures that enable us to move toward greater levels of sustainability while enhancing the value offered to our guests. Our Sustainability Policy and associated Responsible Purchasing Policy have been communicated to our employees. They are available for guests, community members and other stakeholders upon request.  An annual report will be available to the public beginning in the fall of 2012 and every year thereafter.

This policy went into effect in May 2006, and was last updated in September 2013.

2.  Socio-Cultural Impacts

2a. Do No Harm Code of Conduct

The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse pledge to increase guest and staff awareness of responsible and sustainable tourism practices (STEP 2.1.4b) including social-cultural sensitively and behavior appropriate to the surrounding area, attractions, cultural sites and sensitive or protected areas (STEP 2.1.1a). Our Do No Harm Code of Conduct (Appendix B) is posted on-site in a high traffic common area visible to all guests and staff.  A version of it is also available online at http://www.hihostels.com/ web/sustainable-travel.en.htm. Additional links related to sustainable tourism are posted on our local website at http://nwportlandhostel.com/main/sustainability/ and information can be found posted around the hostel. 

The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse maintain a No Removal Policy (STEP 2.1.1.b) and ask guests and staff to refrain from removing cultural artifacts and natural items such as rocks and native plants on-site when visiting our bio-region or others. The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse also agree not to keep wild animals in captivity and pledges to ensure operations do not disturb native habitat or nesting areas on-site or directly adjacent to our property (STEP 7.1.11b).  Furthermore, the HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse pledge to not jeopardize access to basic provisions (clean water, air, food and shelter) for those within the immediate and neighboring communities (STEP 8.2.8a)

2b. Promoting Social Equity, Cultural-Sensitivity and World Peace

The HI-USA mission naturally lends itself to the promotion of social equality, tolerance and world peace. We are working hard to create a world where intercultural dialogue and responsible travel are part of every individual’s experience. This is accomplished by creating quality, low-cost lodging and offering an environment that is welcoming and safe for travelers of all ages and backgrounds. Designed to bring together people, our hostel and guesthouse are simple, affordable overnight accommodations, which facilitate friendly interaction and exchange of ideas and culture. The shared living arrangements, communal environment, innovative programs and activities offered encourage interaction and discussion among guests, staff and the local community. Like other hostels in the HI-USA network, our rates for an overnight stay are purposely kept affordable to enable people of varying means to stay with us (STEP 2.1.3c).

2c. Community Engagement, Education & Philanthropy

We offer structured activities, led by local volunteers, to promote cultural understanding and encourage global citizenship. Neighborhood walking tours and interpretation programs provide a sense of place, including Portland’s ethnic heritage, history, regional cuisine, and the local art and music scene – all the aspects that make a locale unique. Our interpretation programs are locally relevant and are delivered accurately by competent, knowledgeable and trained volunteers or staff.  Many are developed to accommodate the needs of multiple groups including children, non-English speakers, and special needs (STEP 2.1.2b and 2.1.2c).

HI-USA’s educational programs are targeted to school age youth and young adults. Cultural Kitchen focuses on cultural awareness through a country’s cuisine. These programs are offered at many hostels around the United States, including the HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel. In 2003, the HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel designed the Travel Adventure in Portland program and, in collaboration with a local HI-USA educational programming staff, has been offering the program for Girl Scouts and youth groups every first Saturday of a month.

HI-USA hostels annually participate in the Great Hostel Give Back, providing free overnight stays to groups of ten or more young people for each day of community service they provide to non-profits within the community.  In early 2013, 2,250 overnights were given away to 150 groups, totally $78,750.  HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel has participated in this program since 2011. Most HI-USA hostels, including the HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and the Northwest Portland Guesthouse allow other non-profits and community groups the use of its facilities pro bono for planned community events (STEP 8.2.2b), for example, the Portland Parks & Recreation Northwest Portland Summer Music Committee has been using the common areas for meetings since 2002. Since July 2012, we’ve been offering our kitchen once per month to The Portland Burrito Project, a group of people who make 100 burritos and then walk around Portland handing them out to homeless people. Our guests are invited to participate.

In 2012, nearly 2,300 hostellers, community members, leaders, students, and girl Scouts visit the HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse to participate in our free or low-cost activities and events.  We offer tours and activities around Portland, including the 4T Hike, guided walking tours of our historic neighborhood, Brew Pub Tours, and First Thursday Art Walks that are free and open to both the public and guests. Public transportation is used for all events that take place off-site and not within walking distance and we provides each volunteer who leads an event using public transportation with a free day pass. In 2012, the HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse provided 211 free activities to 1,840 participants, led by 20 volunteers from the community putting in over 600 hours of service.

Since 2009, HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel has offered a weekly Summer Music in the Secret Garden series from mid-June through mid-September, featuring singer/songwriters from Portland and all over the West Coast. The popular series provides musicians with a venue to perform and is free for hostel guests and community members (a hat is passed and all donations go to the featured musician, generally between $70 – $150) and attracts about 800 hostel guests and community members every year.

In January 2012, after the inaugural 2011 event in New York at Hostelling International – New York, we were happy to partner with the NoFF team to bring the first NoFF festival winter recess to Portland. NoFF was created with the belief that anyone with a camera, fancy or not, can be a filmmaker. The event on January 28 included a day of screening the 11 finalists films from their event in NYC, a raffle, and a question and answer session with three of the filmmakers held at the McMenamins Mission Theater. Over 100 people attended, a great turn out.

We offer Front Desk Assistant internships to English As Second Language students from Marylhurst University’s ESL Program and PELA (Portland English Language Academy). The internship helps student to use and improve their English and provides them with the opportunity to interact with American and international travelers. Since 2002, we have been offering an International Hostel Management Internship to both international and American students. So far, over 10 students have completed the 6-month to 1-year-long internship. The Intensive English Language Academy (IELP) participated in our “EAT” (English at the Table) program, where students prepare and have a communal meal with our guests, providing them with the opportunity to learn more about the experience of an international student in Portland as well as learning about more things to see and do from someone who’s lived here for a while. In 2012, 36 international students participated.

The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse understand the value of volunteering for your community and support our guests’ efforts to do so.  The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse offer Community Service & Philanthropy Boards that provide volunteer and donation information for up to five local conservation and/or socio-cultural based non-profit organizations (STEP 7.1.13a, 8.2.2a & 8.2.5b). Information will be updated annually by the hostel’s Green Team.  Since October 2010, we display information about three organizations at the front desks, encourage guests to add a donation to their total bill upon check-in, and match guests’ donation dollar-by-dollar (to a maximum of $2,000 per year). Organizations promoted have been Outside In, Good Hope Centre (orphanage) in Tanzania, Northwest Neighborhood Association’s neighborhood clean-up program, Portland Burrito Project, Forest Park Conservancy’s invasive plant removal program, and Hostelling International’s hostel development fund. In addition, we collect left behind clothing as well as unwanted books at least quarterly and donate them to William Temple House Thrift Store. Proceeds from the sale of items donated to the William Temple Thrift Store provide mental health counseling, emergency social services and pastoral care for working poor individuals and families in Portland.

2d. Use of Feedback

Customer satisfaction is a primary goal of HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse. To this end HI-USA requires all network hostels to participate in quantitative customer feedback systems that track comments over time. Feedback is currently collected via customer comment cards and online via hihostels.com, Hostelworld.com, TripAdvisor.com, Yelp.com, Google Plus Local, and others. The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse collect customer feedback and review comments at least on a weekly basis.  Positive, negative and green comments are tallied on a monthly basis and compared against the number of comments returned annually as a percentage of total guests. (STEP 2.2.1a & 2.2.1b).  Currently, the only green comments available on-line are at the individual hostel page at hihostels.com.  Green comments are manually tallied from hihostels.com and by referring to individual comments made on all other websites.

Employee satisfaction is also important to HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse and providing each staff person with stable employment, competitive pay, and working conditions equal or better than those of similar companies within our industry.  Our Open Door Policy and evaluation/feedback schedule provides the opportunity for employees to give and receive feedback to/from management.  Employee feedback is solicited from management during regularly scheduled evaluations as well as during staff meetings. (STEP 3.2.4c)

The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse offer staff members to participate in relevant training classes and industry meetings, providing training on staff supervision, volunteer management, and other relevant topics in the hostelling business.

3.  Environmental Impacts

3a.   Waste Management:

The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse recognize that landfills across the globe are filling at an unsustainable rate and that tourism contributes to increase in consumerism locally.  While this can have positive effects for the local economy, if done with little fore-thought, our hostels garbage cans can quickly be over-run with shopping bags, take-away food containers and product packaging.  We also recognize that our operations consume a variety of products and some that produce land-filled waste either directly or via the packaging they come in.  We understand that our hostel will not be able to improve our waste management and take advantage of the economic and environmental value unless we have a firm baseline of our waste streams. Once baseline measurements have been conducted, our Green Team, in conjunction with hostel management shall develop a reduction plan and report annually. HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse’s baseline year will be 2013.

Waste Management Policy:

  • The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse shall maintain a recycling and composting program for guests and staff to prevent waste from entering the landfill (STEP 4.2.1a).
  • The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse shall recycle all glass, plastic, aluminum, paper and cardboard accepted by the City of Portland’s curbside recycling program in addition to other recyclable plastics accepted by Far West fibers recycling center, batteries , clothes, books and other useable items left behind by guests (STEP 4.2.1a).
  • The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse shall calculate and report the total cubic volume (or weight) of land filled waste and the various recyclables and compostables being recycled as a percentage of the total cubic volume of all garbage on a quarterly and annual basis (STEP 4.2.1a)
  • The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse shall provide clearly labeled recycling bins in our communal kitchens, in all guest rooms, next to office copy machines and printers and in one other communal location accessible to both guests and staff (STEP 4.2.1b).
  • The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse shall provide a clearly labeled place to collect single sided copies for re-use next to office printers and copiers (STEP 4.2.1b)
  • The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse shall provide reusable plates, bowls, silverware, mugs, glasses, pots, pans and baking dishes for all guests, employees and hostel based programs that include food up to 60 people.
  • The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse shall use Green Seal Certified, or equivalent, recycled paper products (both printing and janitorial).  If using an equivalent then the following minimum post-consumer waste (PCW) contents are required: 100% PCW for office paper, 40% toilet paper. Currently, the following products are used at HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse and if such products are not available at the time of purchase, hostel management will seek the closest equivalent available at that time and will resume adherence with this policy during subsequent supply runs.
    • Office Paper: Office Max 100% recycled multipurpose paper (FSC Certified, 100% PCW and process chlorine free (PCF)  
    • Toilet Paper: Ecosoft One-Ply 100% recycled toilet paper with 40% PCW 
    • Napkins: Cloth napkins for daily operations; Trader Joe’s Paper Towels (100% recycled; 80% PCW) for events with more than 60 participants  
    • Rack Cards: minimum of 30% PCW
  • The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse shall use recycled toner in our printers and shall recycle all printer toner cartridges at Rapid Refill, a locally owned business 18 blocks (1 mile) away.
  • The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse have implemented a system for guests and staff to reuse paper and plastic bags left behind by other guests.
  • The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse use Google Docs and Dropbox to share files and reduce the amount of paper consumed on site.
  • The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse has removed our name from junk mail lists by following the recommendations on Metro’s website: http://www.oregonmetro.gov/index.cfm/go/by.web/id=743
  • The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse pledge to reuse internal office supplies and packaging and to train our employees to do the same.
  • The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse will buy products in bulk whenever feasible.

Waste Reduction Plan:

The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse recognize that meaningful reductions in land-filled waste can only be achieved with creative and thoughtful planning.  The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse shall monitor our land-filled, recycled and composted waste and shall decrease the total amount of waste sent to the landfill and increase the amount of waste that is recycled, composted or re-used by 5% below/above baseline levels by 2016 (STEP 4.2.1a). The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse shall monitor our paper purchasing, decrease the overall amount of paper used (recycled and non-recycled) and increase the amount of post-consumer recycled paper products consumed where paper is required for business operations. (STEP 5.1.3a).  To achieve these goals the HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse will continually seek creative ways to reduce our waste and recycle or compost more through the establishment of non-traditional recycling systems and guest education and has identified the following list of action items considered by the hostel’s Green Team as essential to meeting our 2016 goal:

  • Continually monitor the list of items accepted for recycling by Far West Fibers. If feasible, set up systems to collect items, e.g. certain hard plastics, train staff and educate guests, and drop off items at the recycling center.
  • Develop new information boards to encourage guests to say no to packaging and super sized paper bags at stores when buying shoes, clothing, and other goods.

3b. Energy & Green-House-Gas (GHG) Management

The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse recognize that the global tourism industry is a leading contributor of carbon dioxide emissions. As a business that relies on tourists we also understand the importance of managing our greenhouse gas emissions. We understand that our hostel will not be able to improve our energy efficiency and take advantage of the economic and environmental value unless we have a firm baseline of our energy consumption and green-house-gas emissions. Once baseline measurements have been conducted, our Green Team, in conjunction with hostel management, shall develop a reduction plan and report annually. HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse‘s baseline year will be 2012.

Energy &  GHG Management Policy:

  • The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse shall document all fuel use by energy type, cost and unit of measurement (e.g. electricity, heat, petroleum fuel, liquid petroleum, renewable energy).  Data shall be recorded monthly into Quickbase by the Green Team (STEP 6.1.1a).
  • HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse shall document business travel and employee commutes for all full time staff.  Data shall be recorded quarterly in Quickbase by the Green Team (STEP 6.1.2a). When feasible, paper consumption and land filled waste may also be included.
  • The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse shall monitor its annual greenhouse emissions using Sustainable Travel International’s integrated GHG Management and Eco-Certification platforms, which based on internationally accepted GHG protocols.  Scope 2 and Scope 3 green-house gas emissions listed in the two bullet points above shall be included in the HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse‘s annual GHG calculations (STEP 6.1.2a).  Annual monitoring and reporting required.
  • The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse shall avoid the use of ozone depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), including aerosols and Styrofoam containers (STEP 4.3.6c).
  • HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse shall use Portland General Electric’s Green Source renewable energy helping to develop a supply of cleaner power for the Pacific Northwest (STEP 6.1.1a)
  • The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse conforms to HI-USA’s Quality Standards and shall continue to adhere to the following standards aimed at increasing our energy efficiency and reducing our energy consumption and associated green-house gas emissions:
    • Use compact florescent bulbs (CFL’s) or LED’s. 
    • Weatherproof doors and windows and install high efficiency windows when feasible.
    • Insulate water heaters and exposed pipes within three feet of water heaters. (STEP 6.1.1b)
    • Employees are asked/trained to set laundry machines and dishwashers to lowest effective temperature and to fill to capacity prior to running (STEP 4.3.4b & 4.3.3b)
    • Have in place a purchasing policy that requires replacement of energy consuming equipment with Energy Star models.
    • Complete an Energy Audit no less than every five years using third party certified agency or utility company.
    • Create an action plan to carry out recommendations made during on-site Energy Audit
    • Use teleconferencing and videoconferencing to reduce air travel related HIUSA meetings
  • In addition to the above actions, the HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse have also taken the following operational measures to increase our energy efficiency, reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gases:
    • Employees are required to turn off those computers that are not used during the overnight shift. Power management settings automatically turn off computer monitors after 20 minutes of inactivity.
    • Use of programmable thermostats that are set to cycles that never go above 69 degrees.
    • Use of ceiling fans instead of air conditioning. On very hot days, air conditioning is never set lower than 78 degrees.
    • Maintain our furnace and change filters regularly.
    • Use motion sensors for bathroom fans and hallways lights, where practical, to limit use to only when needed. (STEP 6.1.1b)
    • Use of photo cell switches for exterior lighting. (STEP 6.1.1b)
    • Roofs in all of our buildings are insulated. (STEP 6.1.4b)
    • Double-paned low e with argon gas windows installed in Group Center Building (100%), Elliston (except windows in the apartment and those significant in maintaining the historic value of the building).
    • Walls in Group Center and Elliston building s are insulated. (STEP 6.1.4b)

Energy & Green-House Gas Reduction Plan:  (STEP 6.1.1c)

The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse recognize that meaningful reductions in green house gases can only be achieved with creative and thoughtful planning.  We seek to increase our energy efficiency,  reduce consumption and GHG emissions related to operations 5% below 2012 levels by 2015 (STEP 6.1.1a).  To achieve this goal the HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse have identified the following list of action items considered by the Green Team as essential to meeting that goal:

  • Complete on-site energy audit in 2013 and complete recommendations by close of 2013
  • Investigate opportunities to develop on-site solar hot water in the spring of 2014
  • Develop a plan to minimize heat and/or air conditioning loss  and implement at least two of the following energy efficiency improvements by May 2015: (STEP 6.1.4b)
    • Install double-paned low e with argon gas windows in the apartment of the Elliston building. (STEP 6.1.1b)

 3c. Water Conservation & Management

The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse understand that the excess consumption of water can have negative effects on our neighboring community and the entire environment and we do our part by measuring and managing our water use. We understand that our hostel will not be able to improve our water efficiency and take advantage of the economic and environmental value unless we have a firm baseline of our water consumption.  Once baseline measurements have been conducted, the Green Team, in conjunction with hostel management, shall develop a plan for reduction and report annually. HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse’s baseline year is 2012.  The Green Team is responsible for monitoring water-saving activities and ensuring employees are aware of them (STEP 4.4.1b).

Water Conservation Policy (STEP 4.4.1a)

The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse shall identify its sources of water consumption, measure and document the volume of water consumed and associated costs on a quarterly basis in Quickbase. The Green Team is responsible for data collection and reporting and shall refer to water bills for accurate consumption levels. (STEP 4.4.1b).

The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse Water Management System (STEP 4.4.1c) conforms to HI-USA’s Quality Standards and shall continue to adhere to the following policies aimed at reducing our water consumption:

  • Use faucet aerators for each faucet that consumes no more than 2.2 gallons per minute at a flowing water pressure of 80lbs PSI (STEP 4.4.3c).
  • Use low flow showerheads that consume no more than 2.5 gallons per minute at a flowing water rate of 80lbs PSI in all showers (STEP 4.4.3c).
  • Have in place a purchasing policy that requires the replacement of aging toilets and urinals during bathroom renovations with ultra-low flow models consuming no more than 1.28 gallons per minute for toilets and 0.5 gallons per flush for urinals (STEP 4.4.3c).
  • Document and fix any leaks in toilets, faucets, and hoses.
  • Employ a plant watering system that uses hand watering, low-drip and/or timer based methods to conserve water.
  • Employees and guests are asked/trained to fill laundry machines and dishwashers to capacity prior to running(STEP 4.3.4b & 4.3.3b).
  • Landscaping only utilizes naturally occurring/native species that are tolerant of climate, soils and natural water availability (STEP 4.4.1c).
  • Organic fertilizers and natural pest control are utilized (STEP 4.4.1c).
  • Landscaping is watered as necessary in the early morning or at night to minimize evaporation (STEP 4.4.1c.
  • Plant beds are watered using soaker hoses and are mulched to retain water (STEP 4.4.1c).

In addition to the above actions, the HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse have also taken the following operational measures to reduce water consumption:

  • Since August 2012, use faucet aerators for each bathroom faucet that consume no more than 0.5 gallons per minute at a flowing water pressure of 80lbs PSI.
  • Use a three-sink system for washing, rinsing and sanitizing dishware, utensils and cookware.
  • Use Energy-star commercial dish washers in guest kitchens
  • Do not use sprinklers.

Linen and Towel Reuse Policy (STEP 4.3.4b):

The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse maintain a 7-day maximum stay policy per guest in the summer, 14-day in the off season. Guests shall be issued a set of clean bed linens at check-in which are washed only upon check out or by request. Guests are encouraged to bring their own towels.  All guests shall be informed of this policy at check in and all staff shall be trained to adhere to this policy during our new employee orientation and training.  Additionally, when hostel employees travel out of town for business, many employees choose to stay in one of the HI-USA network hostels.  Management supports this desire because all HI-USA hostels offer an effective linen and towel reuse policy.  If an employee chooses another accommodation provider during business travel, Hostel Management encourages employees to use providers that have strong water conservation and linen and towel re-use policies and programs in place.   A list of all network hostels can be found at www.hiusa.org (STEP 4.3.4b).

Water Consumption Reduction Plan:

The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse recognize that meaningful reductions in water consumption levels can only be achieved with creative and thoughtful planning.  HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse seek to reduce our water consumption related to our operations by 5% below 2012 levels by 2016. To achieve this goal, the following list of action items is considered as essential by the Green Team to meeting that goal (STEP 4.4.3b).

  • Create a “Water Conservation Checklist” to be used on a monthly walk-through. The full checklist will be communicated to staff and will be available on-site in the Sustainability binder at the front desk.
  • Participate in Portland Water Bureau’s Water Efficiency Program in 2014 and then every 5 years to further identify ways to reduce our water consumption.

3.d Stormwater & Erosion Management (STEP 4.5.3b):

The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse stand within the Willamette Watershed in the city of Portland, a city that receives approximately 37 inches of rainfall annually.  Recognizing that urban environments consist of a high percentage of impervious surfaces and that Portland’s waterways not only provide a needed food source but are home to a number of threatened and endangered species, the HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse shall identify ways to manage the stormwater running off its property and to implement green stormwater solutions wherever feasible.

Stormwater Management Policy

To date the HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel uses the following green stormwater solutions:

  • The O’Donnell building located on 424 NW 19th Avenue has a large drywell in the North yard and a soakage trench along the South side. Rainwater from the West roof drains onto the driveway and out to the street.
  • Rainwater from the Greenleaf building located on 415 NW 18th Avenue drains into the yard.

3e.   Transportation Management

HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse believes in using and promoting alternative forms of transportation as a way to reduce transportation-related energy use and greenhouse gas emissions and has implemented the following actions to encourage adoption by staff and guests:

  • Guests and staff are advised to use public transport whenever possible. City bus maps and timetables are centrally located and available free of charge to staff and guests. Bus directions to common destinations are also available and routes provided are planned minimize travel distances (STEP 6.1.6a).
  • A free link to the local public transportation website (www.trimet.org) is available to all guests from our Internet kiosks to assist in trip planning.
  • Affordable bike rentals are available on-site and in close proximity to the hostel and guesthouse. Local bike maps are available free of charge. (STEP 6.1.6a).
  • HIUSA offers GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar for videoconferencing of all regional and national meetings (STEP 6.1.6a).
  • Carpooling and/or use of public transportation is required for all staff retreats (STEP 6.1.6a).
  • We offer indoor and secure bike storage (up to 6 bikes) for staff and guests.  Additional outdoor bike racks in a fenced-in courtyard is available.
  • If arranged prior to arrival, guests can receive $50 of free driving when using our promotional code and participating in ZipCar, Portland’s car sharing program.
  • We supported the installment of two ZipCar spots in front of one of our buildings.
  • We promote Portland’s annual bike celebration Pedalpalooza through onsite event signage.

3f.   Safety & Chemical Management System

Safety Management System:

HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse are committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all their staff, guests and visitors. We comply with all applicable requirements issued by State and Federal agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and firmly believe that all accidents are preventable.

Our management team and all staff members share the responsibility for workplace safety. The management team is responsible for developing safety awareness and ensuring that all operations are performed with the utmost regard for the safety and health of all employees involved, including themselves.  Staff members are responsible for continuously practicing safety while performing their job duties and are encouraged to be alert to unsafe conditions and report them promptly to a member of the management team. All reports can be made without fear of reprisal.

If an accident should occur HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse shall document all accidents, and track follow-thru with staff members and all workers comp requirements. In addition to evaluate conditions that led to the accident to determine if changes in procedures or products need to be altered or changed. All accidents shall be reported to the General Manager (STEP 3.1.3d). A clearly labeled first aid kit shall be keep on-site and accessible to all staff and all staff shall be trained to know where it is.  A log and list of required contents shall be kept with the kit and checked and refilled as needed on a monthly basis. Once refilled, management shall initial and date the log provided. (STEP 3.1.2b)

In effort to help our staff to respond appropriately if an accident should occur, HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse shall have at least two staff members that have been trained in youth and adult CPR and basic first aid training. Photo-copies of an approved training and certifications certificates are required to be keep on-site in the employee’s folder and tracked as part of the employee’s performance management cycle (STEP 3.2.1c).

Chemical Management System:

The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse recognize that solid waste and many traditional cleaning, lawn, garden and paint products are damaging to our environment and can be harmful or toxic to human health. The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse believe in maintaining a non-toxic environment for employees and guests through the implementation of our Chemical Management System and Responsible Purchasing Policy (4.3.c and 4.3.4d). All chemicals/cleaning supplies are clearly labeled and information from the manufacturer on which chemicals are toxic/non-toxic is available in the Sustainability binder at the front desk. (STEP 4.3.1b) Our Chemical Management System includes our Waste Storage & Disposal and Toxic Chemical and Pest Management Policies, Procedures and Checklists and requires quarterly documentation and disposal of hazardous waste. Cleaning gloves are provided for cleaners and our maintenance staff is outfitted with protective gear for the eyes, face, respiratory system and hands to use when toxic chemicals, paints or solvents are used or required.

Waste Storage and Disposal Policy

The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse agree to safely store waste so that it does not contaminate humans, wildlife or the environment (4.2.3b). The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse agree to properly dispose of all hazardous waste including compact florescent light bulbs and old paint, varnishes and stains through Metro’s Hazardous Waste Program on a quarterly basis (Dec, March, June, and Sept).

Toxic Chemicals Policy

The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse are to minimize the amount toxic chemicals that are used and stored on-site. Our responsible purchasing policy requires the selection of low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) content when purchasing new paint products. Documentation of all cleaning, lawn, garden and paint products used on-site is required, including an assessment of which chemicals are toxic and which are non-toxic (STEP 4.3.1a and 4.3.5b). The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse agree to use concentrated and non-toxic cleaning products, to follow proper diluting instructions. Documentation shall occur quarterly must include: product name, whether or not the product is biodegradable, frequency of use, toxicity rating, and product warnings if applicable.  Annual Calculation of volume consumed as percentage of total volume used (STEP 4.3.1b).

A copy of these policies, procedures, checklists and a current list of products used are available upon request.

3g.   Green Building:

HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse are fortunate to own many of our buildings, thereby becoming the masters of any transformations that take place on the property. HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse pledge that all new or retrofit construction will use salvaged, recycled or otherwise recognized green building products and materials whenever economically feasible. The design and construction of new construction or remodels shall reflect the natural or cultural heritage of the local area (STEP 4.5.1b). ADA regulations are followed and ADA access to our facilities is ensured during renovations or construction (STEP 4.5.4b and 4.5.4c).  We also pledges that all retrofit construction for leased properties will also use salvaged, recycled or otherwise recognized green building products and materials whenever economically feasible.

The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse have already invested in the following green building features:

  • Bamboo flooring
  • Building materials are purchased from the Rebuilding Center when possible.
  • Building materials salvaged in careful demolition are reused or donated to the Rebuilding Center, a project of the nonprofit organization Our United Villages, which accepts used building and remodeling materials, providing resources for the benefit of communities with the goal of promoting sustainable practices.

The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse‘s Green Team recommends the following for consideration during future remodels and/or expansions:

  • Select an architect who actively participates in organizations that are devoted to benchmarking and tracking sustainable designs, such as the US Green Building Services’ LEED certification, the Living Building Challenge, the Natural Step, AIA’s Committee on the Environment, and is continually researching methods and materials to improve sustainable designs. Incorporate sustainable design into future remodels and/or construction.

4. Economic Impacts

Over 35,000 travelers stay with us every year. They save money on lodging when staying with us, however, surveys show that they spend around $70 daily outside of lodging, supporting restaurants, shops, and attractions in our community. The HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel believes in the economic advantages of a local economy.

To encourage our guests to participate in our local economy we provide the names and contact information for businesses that are within walking distance of the hostel, are locally owned and provide locally made or sourced products on our website. Our staff are briefed on these establishments to encourage patronage and many offer discounts for our guests. We offer a “neighborhood incentive” of $40 per staff person to experience first hand what local restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, eateries, pubs, and bars in Northwest Portland and the Pearl District have to offer. Gift certificates to local restaurants are given to staff as birthday presents and at the end of the year. We also provide a folder with menus of restaurants within walking distance and have handouts available on Portland’s attractions (STEP 8.2.4a).  Our local events display boards are updated three times per week to provide the most accurate information on things to see and do in Portland. We support local and regional businesses directly through purchasing supplies, goods, services. Local sustainability, art, cultural and sporting events are highlighted on our daily and weekly events board (STEP 8.2.3b).

We hosted our inaugural First Thursday Art Opening in April 2013. On display was a collection of vibrant paintings of Portland by local artist Michael J. Feliz. His work gives classic Portland landmarks a uniquely whimsical quality with his use of vivid, multidimensional colors and perspectives. From the historic Northwest neighborhood, to Pioneer Square, and the outdoor markets, his paintings illustrate the essential Portland cityscape for both locals and international travelers to enjoy.  After being on display in the hostel’s main dining room for six months, the art will be permanently displayed throughout the hostel’s common areas. At that point, we’ll have rotating exhibitions of the work of local artists, and offer the opportunity to the artists to sell small prints and postcards of the originals through our front desk. Feliz’ prints and postcards are available for purchase as well.

In addition to providing information on and supporting locally owned businesses the HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel and Northwest Portland Guesthouse host a number of free or low-cost activities that directly improve the bottom line of local businesses surrounding the hostel. On brewpub tours, for example, our volunteers visit locally owned pubs and bars within walking distance of the hostel.

Encouraging Adoption of Sustainable Practices Among Customers, Suppliers and Peers

Many of our suppliers such as Bio-Kleen, Dreamhost, and Natural Press already have sustainability commitments in place.  Those that don’t are challenged by us to provide services or products that meet our environmental purchasing guidelines whenever a viable need arises (STEP 5.1.1a).

The Hostel Director oversees all aspects of infrastructure and property management, and is responsible for overseeing project budgets, reviewing and approving plans, choosing contractors, approving materials and products, ensuring city code compliance.

The Green Team develops and updates all monthly, quarterly and annually sustainability reports and documents such as our sustainability policy and environmental purchasing policy.  It takes on a leadership role responsible for partnership building and marketing of sustainable practices.  The Green Team is also responsible for the eco certification from Sustainable Travel International and the City of Portland’s Sustainability at Work program.  Additionally, this role is responsible for training and ensuring staff compliance, which ensures compliance by guests via signage and a daily walk-through of hostel property.

All front desk staff assists the Green Team with ensuring guest compliance by giving guests a thorough introduction to the hostel and our practices upon arrival and through their daily interactions with guests.  During check-in, our guests are given a short introduction to our hostel, which includes our recycling and composting practices. Signage regarding our sustainability practices is posted throughout the hostel to encourage further thought and discussion.

In general, we have a non-hierarchical system of management in which all staff, volunteers and guests are encouraged to share their ideas and participate in general decision making.  All feasible and reasonable suggestions and ideas are considered.

The Green Team also consults with the HI-USA Central Office and other hostel operators on best practices, Sustainable Travel International STEP Eco Certification and carbon management.