Home News & Features An Update on Local & Regional U.S. Green Lodging Certification Programs

An Update on Local & Regional U.S. Green Lodging Certification Programs

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NATIONAL REPORT—Earlier this year Green Lodging News updated its readers on the many state level green lodging certification and recognition programs. That article followed a series of articles in 2013 on national certification programs. This article focuses on local or regional green certification programs in which lodging establishments can participate. By our count there are six—in Annapolis, Md.; Los Angeles; McAllen, Texas; New York’s Catskill region; Ohio’s Hocking Hills region; and San Francisco.

In Annapolis, properties can participate in the Annapolis Environmental Stewardship Certification Program. The Annapolis Environmental Stewardship Certification Program is a part of the Department of Neighborhood and Environmental Programs’ Sustainable Annapolis initiative. Launched in 2009, the Annapolis Environmental Stewardship Certification Program awards best practice certificates to homes, restaurants, lodging establishments, auto repair shops, schools, retail stores, places of worship, and office buildings.

In order to be eligible for the two-year certification, the applicant must earn enough qualifying points from a comprehensive checklist of environmental best practices and pass a verification inspection. Properties can earn points in categories including energy efficiency, water conservation, environmental education, serving local food, and more. Businesses planning to recertify need to earn more points, indicating continuing environmental efforts. Certified properties gain website recognition and receive a certificate and decal. There are currently 22 lodging establishments that have been certified as part of the certification program.

Los Angeles & Green Seal

In Los Angeles, hotels can participate in the Los Angeles Green Lodging Program. It is part of the City of Los Angeles Green Business Certification Program. To participate in the Green Lodging Program, a hotel must be in compliance with all regulations and achieve Green Seal certification according to the GS-33 Hotels and Lodging Standard. In addition to the use of the nationally recognized Green Seal mark, certified green hotels receive a “Certified Green Business” decal to post on their door or window; an electronic version of the logo to use in their promotional materials; and links on the LA Bureau of Sanitation, LA Tourism & Convention Board and Green Seal websites.

Linda Chipperfield, V.P. of Marketing & Communications for Green Seal, said there are currently seven Los Angeles area hotels that have been certified through Green Seal. Most of those hotels are around Los Angeles International Airport. A website was created for those in Los Angeles and elsewhere who are interested in participating in the Green Seal program. Green hotels participating in the Green Lodging Program are promoted to convention planners.

The McAllen, Texas Chamber of Commerce has a Green Hotel Program that certifies, recognizes and promotes businesses making a commitment to improve operations to reduce environmental impact. Nancy Millar, Vice President/Director of the McAllen CVB, said 18 lodging establishments are currently participating. McAllen’s program recently moved into phase two of its program, meaning that properties that entered the program in phase one can now move on to phase two as they take additional steps to conserve energy and water and reduce waste. Millar says phase one requires taking eight different steps and phase two 12 different steps.

“Next year we will begin implementing phase three,” Millar says. “Hotels active in phase two will be eligible to move to another level.” Phase three will require 16 or more steps.

Properties participating in the Green Hotel Program are promoted locally, through social media, and to those organizations considering McAllen for meetings. “It is a marketing tool for the city,” Millar says.

Ohio Program on Hold

The Hocking Hills Tourism Association maintains a Hocking Hills Green certification program. According to Karen Raymore, Executive Director of the Ohio based association, there are currently 48 businesses participating, many of which are lodging establishments. Raymore says the program is currently being retooled and will be launched again with some changes in 2015.

“We need to include more marketing benefits,” Raymore says. “That is the fastest way to get more businesses certified. We intend to simplify the application process.”

Raymore adds that conservation is vital in the Hocking Hills area. “An awful lot of our business owners understand that protecting the environment is key to their success.”

Hospitality Green manages the Green Concierge Certification program for the New York Catskills Watershed Region. Hospitality Green’s Eco-Business Certification process is structured in three tiers (Bronze, Silver and Gold) with each tier providing a realistic benchmark and advancement to subsequent tiers dependent upon a business commitment, their verifiable resource tracking and their dedication to increasingly rigorous sustainable practices.

Program Expands Beyond New York

In addition to the Catskills region, the program has been adopted by properties in Delaware, Massachusetts and New Jersey. In Santa Fe, N.M., 13 properties have been certified with the help of a U.S. EPA grant. According to Evadne Giannini, principal of Hospitality Green, more than 70 lodging establishments currently participate. The Green Concierge Certification includes a third party property assessment and requires green team training and employee engagement. “It has taken on the character of not being a regional program,” Giannini says.

In addition to the news of Hospitality Green’s growth, Giannini says her organization has strengthened the qualifications for reaching Silver level certification. “In order to qualify for Silver level, the organization and its employees have to be involved in a local charity or community initiative,” she says.

This past April, Hospitality Green held its first Green Tourism Conference in the Catskills area. Attendance was 250. A 2015 conference is already being planned.

Hotels in San Francisco are eligible to participate in the San Francisco Green Business program. Applicants must meet program standards in areas such as waste, energy and water and be in compliance with all applicable environmental regulations. According to the program’s website, five hotels are currently participating.

Glenn Hasek can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

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