Going “green” is more than a trend at Brandywine Creek, Whirlpool Corporation’s Global Leadership Center, it is a key business model that has not only impacted the facility, but is creating change that extends far beyond the 120 acres of dune and oak forest in southwest Michigan. Today Brandywine Creek stands as an example to many, transforming lifestyles and habits of the people who work and visit.
Janine Oberstadt, General Manager at Brandywine Creek began by initiating changes in 2011, realizing that positive steps towards creating a green environment could greatly impact its staff, guests and the environment. Applying green practices to Brandywine Creek began with education and advocacy, and has now led the way for social change, inspiring employees and guests to adapt to “thinking green” as a way of living.
The training center has created somewhat of a unique business model in the hospitality industry, which is historically somewhat of a wasteful industry. It required retraining its staff, vendor partners and even guests how to steward over its resources. Today all who visit learn how to throw something away; Brandywine Creek composts 61% of its waste, including food scraps, office paper, wrappers, mail, paper towel tubes, paper goods and yard waste, it recycles 14% of its waste stream, including pens, markers, wine bottle corks, electronics and even toothpaste tubes, deferring 23 tons of its annual waste from landfills. The facility is cleaned only with 100% green sealed cleaning products to improve air quality, lighting has been relamped with LED or T5 lights to reduce energy, all room lights are on motion sensors, and older equipment is exchanged with ENERGY STAR® equipment as replacement is needed.
Executive Chef Jay Starkey designs Brandywine Creek’s menus around locally sourced foods, tapping into longstanding relationships with local farmers in western Michigan and fishermen in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Year round organic and hydroponic greens are used, tomatoes, peppers and herbs are grown organically in Brandywine’s own gardens and even honey is sourced from its own apiary. Beekeeping on the grounds helps support the pollination of the blueberry farms and the fruit-producing belt surrounding Brandywine Creek.
As Janine Oberstadt states, “This is not a project, it’s a business model. It’s doing business the right way.” All full time employees are measured on their personal contribution to sustainability, there is no opting out, and key performance indicators (KPIs) on water, waste stream and food are reviewed in its operational quarterly reports. Brandywine Creek’s long term plan to reduce its impact on the environment has not only created a cleaner and more sustainable environment for employees, guests wildlife and farms, but has proven to be more cost efficient business model and benchmark for living green.