April 12, 2012 05:57
A "soft" announcement was made in February but the N.C. Division of Environmental Assistance and Outreach and the Center for Sustainable Tourism at East Carolina University are just now beginning to talk more aggressively about their new NC GreenTravel Initiative. The Initiative is a program that recognizes state travel-related businesses that employ healthy environmental practices. Unlike many other state certification programs that are open only to lodging establishments, the NC GreenTravel Initiative is open to all types of travel-related businesses--hotels, restaurants, museums, parks, attractions, etc. From a marketing standpoint, participants are recognized by the NC GreenTravel Initiative with a wall certificate and door decal identifying them as members of the NC GreenTravel community. They will also be listed as a sustainable travel business on the NC GreenTravel website.
I read through the application for lodging establishments. Participants are required to have an environmental policy statement, green team, and are awarded points in the following categories: waste reduction and recycling, energy conservation, water efficiency, groundskeeping, kitchen, air quality, environmental measurements, housekeeping, green meetings and catering, and green purchasing. Properties can also earn points for being LEED certified, having an environmental management system, and by being green certified by another agency. There are three levels of certification: One Dogwood Blossom, Two Dogwood Blossoms, and Three Dogwood Blossoms. Limited service and full service properties have slightly different point scales.
The organizers of the program have done a very good job putting together the application. I always check to see whether or not a property gets credit for being 100 percent nonsmoking. In this application, it does not. The green meetings and catering section should have included points for tablecloth-less tables. I am just being picky here. Overall, the application is a great start. To see the lodging application, click here. If you run a green lodging establishment or other green tourism-related business in North Carolina, I strongly encourage you to participate in the NC GreenTravel Initiative.