BROOKSVILLE, FLA.—A total of 219 hotels are saving hundreds of millions gallons of water a year thanks to the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s (SWFWMD) Water Conservation Hotel and Motel Program (CHAMP). Water CHAMP is a linens and towels reuse program that encourages hotel and motel guests to agree to use their linens and towels for an additional day or two of their stay.
“The program has been very successful,” says Dorian Morgan, senior communications coordinator for Brooksville, Fla.-based SWFWMD. “Participating hotels quickly see the financial benefits.”
SWFWMD purchases program materials from Project Planet Corp., Dawsonville, Ga., and provides them free to CHAMP participants in a 16-county area. The materials include cards, door hangers and other information that encourage guests to participate in the voluntary program. Guests are instructed to hang up their towels if they would like to reuse them, or throw them on the floor if they would like fresh towels. Likewise, unless guests place the linen card on their pillow, their linens will be changes on the third day of their stay.
Program participants also receive a training videotape for staff and a self-audit checklist to help assess water conservation practices. SWFWMD gives each participating hotel comment cards to gauge guest reaction.
“The program has a 98 percent guest approval rating,” Morgan says.
The results of a 71-participant water use survey conducted by Pinellas County Utilities and the Tampa Water Department showed CHAMP participants had saved a combined 100 million gallons of water in only one year. That translated into an approximate total savings of $700,000 per year for the hoteliers.
“We estimate that hoteliers can save up to $1 per occupied room per day,” Morgan says. “We have not had any hotels exit the program. It is becoming very popular now. Hotels all over the world are doing this.”
If a CHAMP participant wishes to take its water conservation efforts a step farther, SWFWMD lends a hand and works with city and county utility officials to conduct an audit. The audit identifies other ways the hotel can reduce water consumption. Morgan cited ice machines as one example where hoteliers don’t always recognize the savings potential. Most hotels do not need machines that use water to help keep ice cubes cool. Air-cooled systems are fine for most hotels, Morgan says. Effective irrigation is another topic explored during an audit.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection includes CHAMP participation as one of its criteria for its statewide Green Lodging Certification Program. CHAMP participants are listed in SWFWMD’s biannual newsletter and on the CHAMP Web site. CHAMP properties are also featured in the convention and visitors bureau’s travel guides, giving additional exposure to participants.
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Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.