Home Personnel Profile GHA’s Patricia Griffin: One of Lodging’s Green Groundbreakers

GHA’s Patricia Griffin: One of Lodging’s Green Groundbreakers

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Name: Patricia Griffin
Title: President and Founder
Company: Green Hotels Assn., Houston
Year organization was founded: 1993
Prior experience: Before launching the Green Hotels Assn., Griffin worked as a business librarian and in various administrative positions. She also worked for a Howard Johnson hotel in the back office and at a Hilton property at the front desk.
Primary responsibility: “My main responsibility is running the association and developing new ways to build the business.”
What makes the Green Hotels Assn. unique: “We are one of a kind. There is no other association quite like ours. We are a trade association and a mail order business.”
Biggest challenge ahead: “To grow our membership and to help people understand the value of what we are doing.”
Advice for hotels considering green programs: “You will be astonished at the difference a program will make. Begin by creating a green team and then follow the types of steps described in our ‘Guidelines and Ideas’ publication.”

HOUSTON—As founder and president of the Green Hotels Assn., based here, Patricia Griffin knows a thing or two about how one can save money and conserve resources at the same time. When she first founded her organization in 1993, her list of helpful tips was just 15 pages long. Today, her “Guidelines and Ideas” document has more than 135 pages.

“Guidelines and Ideas” is just one of the things hoteliers receive when they join the Green Hotels Assn. They also receive a “Greening Newsletter,” a green product catalog, discounts on money-saving products, and a listing on the organization’s website—a place environment-minded travelers visit to find environmentally friendly accommodations.

The Green Hotels Assn. has come a long way since 1993. Griffin first became interested in green operations during a trip to Europe. She was impressed by the towel reuse programs she found there. After returning to the United States, she decided to sell her own towel reuse cards. She sent samples to 200 Houston area hotels and immediately received an order. She later added a sheet reuse card. Since those early days, she has expanded her mail order business and association work significantly.

Griffin says more than 300 hotels representing approximately 25,000 guestrooms are now members of the association. Members are located in the United States, Canada, Caribbean, Europe, Mexico, Bermuda, Central America, South America, Africa and Asia. Members represent all different types of establishments. For example, a few current members include the Strawberry Creek Inn Bed & Breakfast, Idyllwild, Calif.; Residence Inn Capitol, Washington, D.C.; and Hyatt Regency Boston.

Hoteliers Asked to Make Conservation Commitment

The only requirement to joining the association is making a commitment to save energy, water, and reduce solid waste. Members are expected to add to their green programs from one year to the next as they renew their memberships. There are no inspections. Participants can purchase flags to tout their membership.

“We want hotels to market themselves as being green,” Griffin says.

What attracts hoteliers to the program is the opportunity to learn new ways to save money. Participants are also interested in doing what is right for the environment and for public health. Green hotels are healthier buildings to stay in and work in.

“What stops potential members from joining is their busy schedules,” Griffin says. “They think they don’t have time.”

Green programs create a team environment and help employees feel more valued, she adds.

The Green Hotel Assn. has been featured in many different publications and on television, including CNN. In 2007, it will be featured in Reader’s Digest and in an Audubon International publication.

What Griffin enjoys most about her work is dealing with hoteliers.

“They are all very kind and generous,” she says. “It makes sense because we are all in this business to do positive things.”

To learn more, go to the Green Hotels Assn.

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

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