Per Executive Order 13514 signed by President Obama a little more than a year ago, all federal agencies—approximately 2 million employees—have been directed to find ways to reduce direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions. (See related article.) Activities covered include transit, travel, training, and conferencing. GSA Bulletin FTR 10-06, issued on September 30, 2010, spells out ways federal agencies can reduce the environmental impact of their travel. Anyone running a lodging establishment in the United States needs to pay attention to GSA Bulletin FTR 10-06. When planning travel, those 2 million federal employees are now being asked to seek out hotels that participate in green lodging certification programs that incorporate energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction, and other environmentally-friendly strategies into their facilities and operations.
In other words, if you have not yet greened up your property, you could miss out on potential government business or possibly even lose existing business.
In an e-mail interview with Kathleen Turco, Associate Administrator, GSA Office of Governmentwide Policy, I tried to gain some insight into exactly what GSA Bulletin FTR 10-06 means. I was particularly interested in knowing whether or not the travel guidelines will be enforced in any way. The guidelines appear to be suggestions and not necessarily requirements.
GSA Cannot Enforce New Policy
“The sustainability bulletin contains guidelines and common sense actions federal travelers and others can do to begin to reduce their carbon footprint,” Turco said. “GSA is not an enforcement agency and does not have the mandate to enforce its regulations. All GSA regulations are enforced by the agency inspector general’s offices. This is a first step in getting agencies ready and thinking about sustainability. GSA is being proactive in setting the stage for environmental reform in travel policy.” (Sounds like stronger regulations are coming.)
Currently, GSA Bulletin FTR 10-06 suggests that travelers should look for properties that are LEED certified, have earned EPA’s Energy Star rating or participate in EPA’s Waste Wise and WaterSense programs, and that have made a stated commitment to practicing environmentally preferable purchasing in the products and services used by the property. I asked Kathleen if any attempt will be made to provide employees with lists of hotels that are certified green under programs other than LEED, Energy Star, etc. Her response: “As the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy develop standards for hotels, cars or any other port of travel, they will be incorporated into the Federal Travel Regulation and current Electronic Travel Systems (ETS1) as well as the ETS2 contract that’s out for bids.” Kind of a fuzzy answer if you ask me but it does leave the door open for other programs.
I also asked Kathleen how hotel companies or individual hotels should be reacting to GSA Bulletin FTR 10-06 and what is the best way they can target government agencies to let them know about their green efforts. Her response: “GSA is working with EPA and DOE to develop a Federal Certification or standard for lodging. Until this is completed, properties could be recognized with their efforts through FedRooms (www.fedrooms.com) if they participate in that program. Properties can also showcase their efforts via their individual websites….”
Getting government business—especially meetings business—can be a huge win for any lodging establishment. Government agencies are being told to hold events at green lodging and conference/meeting facilities. Are you prepared to respond with your green meetings program?
Be sure to continue to monitor GSA for future bulletins. I will do the same.
See You in New York?
I will be attending the International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show in New York City. The event will be held from November 13 to 16 at the Javits Center. If you plan to attend or exhibit at the show, be sure to let me know. Approximately 700 exhibitors and 30,000 attendees are expected.
Off the show floor, seminars will address everything from adapting to new consumer attitudes and online customer interaction, to powering up profits and developing winning sales strategies. Be sure to catch “Green Certified Demystified” on Sunday, November 14, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., featuring AH&LA green consultant Pat Maher. This program will address the process and criteria for the top green certification programs, including LEED, Energy Star and Green Key Global.
For more information about the International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show, click here.
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