USC Hotel’s has made it its goal to protect Earth’s natural resources for the health of future Trojans without compromising innovation and business. And now that is becoming a reality according to USC Hotel and USC Hospitality Executive Director Dirk De Jong. After a year of the Green Seal organization auditing its practices, the USC Hotel received a silver-level Green Seal certification in January. Looking forward, he wants the hotel to become a leading example of sustainable practices for their campus partners.
The Hotel’s process of analyzing past trends in its resource utilization and pollution emittance aims to ensure that future generations have equal access to natural resources. Green Seal, a U.S. nonprofit, evaluates a hotel’s waste reduction, energy consumption, water management, pollution minimization and eco-friendly purchasing.
De Jong said that to earn the certification, USC Hospitality aimed to reduce its carbon footprint and excess consumption of natural resources while maintaining a quality experience for it’s customers.
“We always look at how any new initiative will meet the needs of the USC community, students, parents, staff, alumni — anybody that stays with us,” he said.
Isabella Caltabiano, Undergraduate Student Government Sustainability Affairs Director, said that as part of the 2028 sustainability goals, President Carol Folt highlighted the importance of reviewing old buildings to incorporate more efficient use of energy and water while limiting waste. Using USC Hotel’s example as a critical shift toward sustainable infrastructure’s campus-wide catalytic expansion, Caltabiano said she hopes USC becomes a leading example to inspire students and universities to prioritize their environmental vision.
“There really is this global call for action,” said Caltabiano, a senior majoring in international relations. “USC will either be the leader and go first or will eventually transition to a sustainable university because everyone else will.”
De Jong said the process for fulfilling the Green Seal requirements for waste minimization, energy efficiency, water conservation, wastewater management and environmental responsibility is extensive. With the help of Green Seal and data scientists, USC Hotel collects and analyzes data on the hotel’s consumption of resources.
USC Hotel has implemented a flow restrictor, a water-conserving device and replaced disposable products, such as plastic shampoo bottles, with reusable amenities. These changes positively impact the environment while still being attractive to guests, De Jong said.
As USC Hotel continues on the path of recycling and reducing waste to conserve resources, De Jong said it was critical that prospective guests know about the hotel’s sustainability efforts. He said guests will feel a sense of internal contentment in knowing they made a greener choice.
“It is really a collective mindset. It is really about moving the community and society in that [sustainable] direction,” De Jong said. “Things need to be replaced after a certain amount of time. Instead of discarding them, we actually donate them to a homeless shelter.”
De Jong said he hopes the USC Hotel can become an educational resource and a catalyst for other entities on campus to go green.
Caltabiano commended the efforts of USC Hospitality on its composting bins and said that the initiative would also be implemented in the University’s residential colleges.
“I think the sustainable 2028 goals, which the administration is currently planning, are going to be very impactful,” Caltabiano said. “President Folt hopes to have USC become plastic-free within the next two years, and these policy changes made by the school will really be impacting the sustainable purchasing decisions that the everyday USC student will be doing.”
Caltabiano is working toward policy changes at USC that would make eco-friendly options prevalent and easily accessible on campus.
“These larger infrastructure projects are changing the choices that students have in a positive way,” Caltabiano said. “Now you will not have the option of the less sustainable product at the USC Hotel and will not have the option of purchasing a plastic water bottle [on campus]. By changing the infrastructure and the living environment around us, we are going to start subconsciously making more sustainable choices.”
Gabrielle Kim, a freshman majoring in political science, said that by renovating buildings like the USC Hotel with clean technologies and renewable energy sources, all people related to the hotel will become more conscious of their individual energy consumption.
“More of the impact from making these environmentally friendly infrastructures and buildings will not be a direct environmental change that is positive right away, just because there already has been so much damage done,” Kim said. “But I do think that it’s the mental impact that it’ll have that is greater … because I think once USC recognizes how it can be sustainable then it’ll incorporate that in other aspects … I think it’s just an attitude shift that will make a big difference.”
De Jong said USC Hotel will strive to maintain the silver level and continue making eco-friendly changes to move toward gold-level certification. The hotel has committed to advancing environmental research and continuing to serve the needs of the Trojan community.
Correction: A previous version of this article reported that USC Hotel received an award. It earned a Green Seal certification, not an award. The Daily Trojan regrets this error.