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Do Green Initiatives Conflict with AAA, Mobil Rating Criteria?

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I need your help for a future column. I am curious to know if your property or restaurant has ever had its rating affected negatively in any way by a AAA or Mobil inspector because of one of your energy-, water-, or waste-saving initiatives. The purpose of my query is not to accumulate ammunition to shoot at AAA, or Forbes (which publishes the guides in which hotels are Mobil rated) but to come up with a list of suggestions for improvement if such a list is needed. I have become aware of instances where green initiatives have come into conflict with rating criteria. I will address those examples in future columns.

I just read through the various criteria for AAA’s Diamond Rating Guidelines, as well as the Lodging Star Criteria for the Mobil star rating system. Based on those two lists, it is clear that both programs have not yet reached the point where they are actually rewarding green lodging initiatives—AAA is acknowledging, yes, but rewarding, no. I am not suggesting that it is AAA or Forbes’ role to evaluate a property’s environmental practices. AAA’s Diamond Rating Guidelines mention “green” just twice: acknowledging implementation of optional towel/linen replacement programs by housekeeping; and at the very end of its Guidelines where it includes a paragraph supportive of “Green Programs.”

AAA’s paragraph reads: “AAA supports environmental management and sustainability throughout the hospitality industry to the extent that truly effective programs maintain quality standards of guest comfort. We strongly encourage continued use of programs that offer guests choices without consequences for noncompliance. Effective green programs are intended to reduce waste without reducing guest comfort.” AAA includes this statement in its Diamond Rating Guidelines for restaurants as well. I searched through Mobil’s Lodging Star Criteria and star rating process for restaurants and did not find one single mention of green programs.

In early October, AAA announced that it would launch a program to highlight AAA Approved lodgings that have been eco-certified through a well-established government or private program. A bright green “ECO” symbol makes it easy to identify eco-friendly lodgings in the new 2010 editions of the AAA TourBook guides and on AAA.com. Additionally, travelers are able to customize their hotel searches on AAA.com to show green properties first in their search results. Forbes has not yet taken a similar step with its guides. It is obvious that AAA is at least showing a strong interest in green programs.

If your property or restaurant has ever had its AAA or Mobil rating negatively impacted because of what you perceive to be a green initiative, I would like to know about it. Call (440) 243-2055 or e-mail editor@greenlodgingnews.com. I will share your input with readers in future columns. Thank you.

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