The lodging industry nationwide is working toward environmental best practices for green hotels and inns that go beyond asking guests to hang up their towels if they are willing to reuse them. In some states such as Maine, environmental leadership programs have been developed to set a standard for the lodging industry and to actually certify facilities based on environmental initiatives.
With more than 100 lodging business certified to date, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s Environmental Leader program provides a workbook for lodging facilities that allows that to achieve points towards certification as they implement initiatives.
These initiatives at green hotels and inns include using biodegradable cleaning supplies; placing recycling bins in guest rooms and common areas; providing refillable amenity dispensers rather than individual containers for shampoo, conditioner, soap and lotion in guest rooms; using water conserving faucets and showerheads; and educating patrons about the facility’s green initiatives.
Maine is not alone in certifying green hotels and inns for sustainability practice. Most states have a similar program.
While customers readily accept many initiatives some such as amenity dispensers have had a slower acceptance rate. These dispensers, which offer a substantial reduction in plastic waste to landfills and that have been the standard in Europe for years, are beginning to catch on in the United States and are now found in 5 to 10 percent of guestrooms according to Green Lodging News.
The greening of the hotel industry goes beyond what happens in the guest rooms and common areas of green hotels and inns. Solar programs, extensive waste reduction, locally sourced ingredients for healthy menus, and wind energy are just a few of the not so obvious notable features of recent hotel introductions and retrofits.
For example, Hilton Hotels and Resorts recent a multi-million dollar renovation of its 427-guestroom Hilton Meadowlands includes a 1.1-megawatt solar photovoltaic installation on its carport that is expected to generate 20 percent of the property’s energy. Another Hilton property, the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort has added six wind turbines to its roof top landscape to help reduce energy consumption provide a cost savings.
The Grand Hyatt in Atlanta is working on a rainwater harvesting and reuse system to capture the rainwater that falls on the 32,000 square feet of roof surface.
Considered the highest attainable standard for environmental design for hotel properties, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’s (LEED) Platinum certification has only been achieved by a few hotels in the US including the Proximity in Greensboro, N.C., the Bardessono Hotel in Yountville, Calif., and the Hotel Skyler in Syracuse, N.Y.
But it’s not all the big names in well-know places or big cities that are working for a better environmental scorecard.
Let’s go back to Maine, where there are many choices for lodging that have taken environmental practice seriously enough to be designated Environmental Leaders based on the commitment to:
- Reduce energy
- Conserve water
- Minimize waste
- Use environmentally preferable cleaners
Educate the public and their customers on reducing environmental impact
Many of these properties are inns and small hotels that although they may not be LEED certified they are taking steps to protect the environment.
One example is the White Cedar Inn in Freeport, Maine where innkeepers have saved more than 9000 gallons of water a year by installing new high water pressure/lower-flow shower heads, repairing all faucets and toilets, and installing a water-efficient washing machine. Other initiatives here include trash, electricity, and fuel oil consumption and allergen reduction.
At the Berry Manor Inn in Rockland, Maine, another designated State of Maine Environmental Leader, one point in the Inn’s Environmental Mission Statement is comply with all applicable environmental laws and strive to follow best environmental practice in all facets of operations without compromising guest comfort. To do this, the Inn uses compact fluorescent bulbs and solar lighting and bio-fuel for heating oil. They recycle guest and office products, and donate and they recycle old towels, clothing, shampoo, and soaps to local charities. The Inn also encourages guests to walk to the downtown shops, restaurants and harbor.
Looking to support environmental best practice the next time you travel?
Most properties will showcase their sustainability initiatives on their website and many cities and states offer guides to the green hotels in their area such as http://www.bostongreentourism.org or on a global basis, information can be found on sustainable tourism by visiting the Global Sustainable Tourism Council website. Also sites such as Expedia offer a special section on green hotels.
Happy sustainable travels! Have a favorite place to stay that you feel sets the example for sustainability? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we might feature it in our Eco Winter Travel series.
Photo credits: Maine DEP, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, USGBC, Bardessono Hotel, White Cedar Inn, Berry Manor Inn