Will Marriott Turn Mitt Romney Green (Again)?

Will Romney continue Marriott green initiatives?Longtime fans of former presidential candidate Mitt Romney must have been plenty surprised when he ditched sustainability in favor of pro-coal, anti-wind, climate change-denying positions during his campaign. After all, in a previous tenure as Governor of Massachusetts, Romney championed sustainable development and took a strong stance against coal-burning power plants.

However, it’s never too late for second chances, and Romney might have just embarked on a doozy of one. Earlier this week, Marriott International announced that Romney will rejoin its Board of Directors as of right now. You can bet that caught our attention over here at TriplePundit! Just a couple of months ago we gave Marriott’s latest CSR report a nice review for its healthy dose of conservation initiatives along with youth development programs, and now we’re mighty curious as to what course the company will set with Romney’s hand on the the tiller.

Romney and Marriott

This will actually be Romney’s third stint at Marriott. According to a rundown by CNN, Romney first served on the board from 1993 to 2002, when he then became Governor of Massachusetts. He joined up with Marriott again in 2009 but left in 2011 to run for president.

If you leave out the 2012 presidential campaign, that timeline bodes well for the future. In particular, Romney’s second term on the board overlaps squarely with Marriott’s growing portfolio of green projects.

It’s also interesting to note that his aggressive pursuit of sustainable economic development as Governor followed directly on the heels of his first term on the board, which lasted five years.

Marriott Goes Green

The hospitality industry has taken up a leadership position in sustainable business growth, and Marriott’s latest CSR report is a great example of a well-rounded program.

Triple Pundit’s Samantha Neary looked inside Marriott’s Sustainability Report for 2011-2012, and she was particularly impressed that the company used the highly regarded Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines.

Neary highlighted Marriott’s impressive gains in water and energy consumption, boosted by a partnership with Constellation Energy‘s Project Vulcan. That builds on Marriott’s existing commitment to solar power.

Marriott is also in the third year of a $2 million nature conservation project, the Juma Sustainable Development Reserve in Brazil, and it is working with Conservation International to help protect a key watershed in China.

Then there’s the company’s partnership with the U.S. Green Buildings Council, which launched in 2010 with the aim of bringing hundreds of Marriott facilities under the LEED umbrella.

Also noteworthy is Marriott’s new “World of Opportunity” program, which it launched in January 2012. That set of initiatives includes partnerships with dozens of countries and U.S. cities to   help young survivors of human trafficking get back on their feet, and to provide employment opportunities for youth and persons with disabilities.

A Long Way from Bain

Marriott’s sustainability leadership reminds us of another former Romney employer, Bain & Company. After Romney left Bain & Company in 1984 to form Bain Capital, Bain & Company went on to build a strong CSR profile.

Bain Capital, on the other hand, has not made any significant headway in that area, at least not in any form that it chooses to publicize on its website.

Fortunately, based on Romney’s experiences since first joining Marriott in 1993, it seems likely that he has left the Bain Capital legacy behind in favor of the more progressive principals that Marriott has put to work. That is, of course, if you leave out the 2012 presidential campaign.

[Image: Prototype LEED hotel courtesy of Marriott]

Follow me on Twitter, @TinaMCasey.


Tina writes frequently for Triple Pundit and other websites, with a focus on military, government and corporate sustainability, clean tech research and emerging energy technologies. She is a former Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and author of books and articles on recycling and other conservation themes. She is currently Deputy Director of Public Information for the County of Union, New Jersey. Views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily reflect agency policy.

2 responses

  1. This is why republicans have a hard time compromising with democrats they are incable of understanding the bigger picture. Republicans are not opposed to being environmentally minded, we are opposed to government intervention. These are intiatives that are good business descisions for Marriot to make. And it will always be a good idea to take advantage of government program benefits if available, but they will find the most effective and efficient and long term sustanable ways to maintain their business with or without those.programs, or face being replaced by a bettter run company. That is capitalism. Incidents like Solyndra demonstrate how poorly a track record government has been when getting involved. Instead of pumping money into a company more focused on finding hand outs than finding efficiencies, the government should have been focused on preventing imports of those types of products from countries that don’t want to play fairly.

    1. Thank you for your insights, realdeal. For the benefit of our other readers, can you please explain your point about government intervention a little more clearly? At first you say that you are “opposed to government intervention,” but then you say that “it will always be a good idea to take advantage of government program benefits if available.” Do you mean to say that there is a difference between government intervention and government programs? Thanks!

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