Checking in on the Progress of the AH&LA’s Green Efforts

12/7/2012 By Glenn Hasek

Since launching Green Lodging News more than six years ago, I have closely followed the activities of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) as they relate to green lodging. While the AH&LA and I have not always agreed on everything, I have had a true, professional respect for the sustainability-related work of the organization. Through Pat Maher, the AH&LA’s “Green Guru,” AH&LA has worked hard to have a seat at the table of every important sustainability-related discussion.

Ideally, AH&LA should have a full-time person dedicated to sustainability. That not currently being the case, it relies heavily on Pat as a consultant for his expertise. He is certainly qualified, having worked for Marriott International for 23 years, including as senior vice president, engineering. If you have a question about just about anything related to green operations, you can ask Pat through the AH&LA’s website.

If your property is part of a major chain, you are most likely represented through the AH&LA’s Green Task Force. This group meets monthly via phone. You may also be represented through the AH&LA’s Engineering & Environment Committee which meets twice a year.

Update on Progress So Far

I spoke with Pat this past week to get an update on AH&LA’s green progress and its goals for 2013. I strongly encourage you to review AH&LA’s online Green Resource Center to understand what AH&LA has accomplished so far. You need not be an AH&LA member to access the Green Resource Center. Also be sure to read the related article I posted on Green Lodging News this past week.

Those of you familiar with AH&LA know that it has 11 Minimum Green Guidelines—guidelines targeting effective energy, water and waste management that have since been adopted by about 1,600 properties. One of the AH&LA’s goals for 2013 is to increase the total number of properties using the Guidelines by an additional 1,500 hotels. Another goal is to revamp the core 11 Minimum Green Guidelines and increase them to at least 15. AH&LA currently has many other additional guidelines on its website in the areas of energy, water, and solid waste. Some of these guidelines have case studies associated with them. Be sure to read them.

The updating of the Green Guidelines is one of four levels of emphases for 2013. The others include increasing participation in Green Key Global, Energy Star, and LEED.

As part of AH&LA’s current partnership with Green Key Global, AH&LA members receive a discounted fee on the Green Key Eco-Rating Program. There are currently more than 1,500 U.S. properties Green Key certified. The AH&LA’s 2013 goal is to add an additional 500 properties.

Energy Star, LEED Goals

AH&LA’s next step is to encourage properties to increase their level of certification by becoming EPA Energy Star-rated. There are currently 495 hotels that have received the Energy Star rating. The 2013 goal is to increase the number of Energy Star-rated properties by 10 percent. AH&LA is also aiming to increase the number of LEED certified properties by 25 percent. According to AH&LA, there are currently 96 LEED certified hotels.

In addition to its four levels of emphases in 2013, Maher says AH&LA will aim to partner with the National Restaurant Assn. to launch a waste reduction challenge, push companies to participate in President Obama’s Better Buildings Challenge, promote the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative that has been written about here on Green Lodging News, present four free environmental webinars to members, expand the Green Key Meeting certification program by 100 percent, and develop a checklist for green IT practices in hotels and lodging properties along with answers to frequently asked questions.

Be sure to take advantage of the resources and programs available through AH&LA in the coming year. If you have the time, volunteer your expertise—whether to AH&LA directly or your local or state lodging association that is most likely affiliated with AH&LA.

There is so much more AH&LA could be doing to push sustainability in our industry but it needs your help to do it.

Who is Your Sustainability Champion?

Green Lodging News is always looking to profile sustainability champions in our Personnel Profile section. If you would like to nominate someone for this section of Green Lodging News, contact me at (216) 848-1406, or by e-mail at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

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