Park City Lodging inspires green initiatives globally | ParkRecord.com

Park City Lodging inspires green initiatives globally

President is creating eco-friendly certification

Rhonda, left, and Heleena Sideris are the dreamers that have focused on sustainable solutions in their business Park City Lodging Inc. (Carolyn Webber/Park Record)

Since Park City Lodging Inc.'s inception in 1984, sustainability has remained a core value. What began as recycling in its home vacation rentals and encouraging the reuse of towels has transformed into a culture of reducing waste.

The property management company recently opened a rooftop garden at its offices on 1897 Prospector Ave. and is implementing bulk amenities in all of its 140 rentals.

Rhonda Sideris, president of Park City Lodging, said having sustainable services has always felt like the right thing to, despite the extra cost and work. Its current office, which opened last summer, took seven years to construct because of constant back-and-forth among the city, homeowners association and architects. In the end, Sideris is proud to work somewhere with a recycled bamboo deck, 52 solar panels and ozone laundry machines that use less water, chemicals and heat.

Sideris, who is a member of the Vacation Rental Management Association, a global organization of property managers, is currently authoring a certification program so property managements globally can more easily implement green initiatives.

Growing up camping and "playing in the dirt" helped Sideris learn from an early age to respect the planet. She taught it to her children and now Heleena Sideris, her daughter, works with Rhonda to dream up new ideas to reduce their footprint.

With the organic soil rooftop garden, the two are planning a new experiment involving "dirty dirt" – dirt with chemicals and heavy metals – they collected from the area and mushrooms. The mushrooms will isolate the toxic heavy metals and, hopefully, clean the dirt.

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If the project, which will be done by Rhonda and Heleena, works, it will open the door for reusing soil that has been contaminated with metals or other toxins.

Heleena, international salesperson for the company, is also working on replacing its three-ounce bottles of shampoo and conditioner with refillable 16-ounce bulk containers. The company is sending the leftover mini amenities to Mexico City, along with towels and linens, to those affected by the recent earthquake there.

Plants grow at the rooftop garden Park City Lodging’s new office at 1897 Prospector Ave. (Photo Courtesy of Heleena Sideris)

The transition to bulk will cost a large sum up front, but the company should recover the funds in five years or less, Heleena said.

Rhonda has found that the desire to be eco-friendly is spreading to her guests, too. Some of the more permanent residents have purchased rooftop garden plots.

"More and more people travel and will pay more to stay in a business that's sustainably-conscious," Rhonda said.

Park City Lodging is not the only company in the city working on sustainability, though. It is one of 16 total Park City businesses registered as "green businesses" with Recycle Utah. The Windy Ridge Café saves all food scraps except leftovers from guests' plates for composting and/or animal feed at Bill White Farms, and Park City Brewery only takes full loads of beers to Salt Lake City so it does not make unnecessary trips and use extra fuel.

Heleena and Rhonda hope that these efforts and their own will inspire even more businesses to make small changes that make a big difference over time.

"It's intimidating," Heleena said. "If you start to just look at it one piece at a time, we're hoping that maybe through our model and our success, that similar industries or new buildings going up can look to this as an example of how it can succeed."

At Park City Lodging, the efforts may be as small as providing reusable grocery bags to guests or as large as constructing a rain garden, which Rhonda hopes to build in the next year. But she is sure that everyone can make that small difference.

"I choose not to put mints on the pillow because it costs money and it doesn't do anything," Rhonda said. "I'd rather buy a locally sourced, organic, fair-trade coffee."