Home Energy Management More States Should Develop Green Lodging Certification Programs

More States Should Develop Green Lodging Certification Programs


Beginning January 1, 2008, state agency and department employees in Florida will be required to stay at Florida Green Lodging hotels when they travel. An Executive Order was recently issued by Governor Charlie Crist. Florida currently has 25 hotels certified as Green Lodging properties with 46 applications in process. Because of the governor’s decision, you can be sure that even more hotels will be signing up for the program soon. As reported on Green Lodging News this week, there are now eight states that have green lodging programs with some type of certification.

Lodging establishments that participate in these programs benefit in many ways. They reduce costs by saving energy and water, improve indoor air quality by eliminating such things as toxic cleaning chemicals, and reduce waste through education and recycling. They also establish benchmarks for continuous improvement and create opportunities to market themselves. Peter Cooke, program manager for Maine’s Green Lodging Certification Program, says some hoteliers in his state, who first expressed skepticism about participating, have gone “bonkers with it” and now see themselves as environmentalists.

Green Lodging News applauds Maine and the other seven states with green lodging certification programs for setting an example and for reducing their impact on the environment. Running a state program is not easy. Each requires a significant amount of funding and the commitment of knowledgeable hotel and tourism industry representatives. Admittedly, the green lodging movement is still in its infancy, but one does wonder why the 42 other states have not developed their own certification programs.

Why Not Nevada?

Nevada certainly could benefit from a statewide program. Las Vegas alone has more than 125,000 hotel rooms open and tens of thousands more under development. I am surprised that states such as Oregon, Washington and Colorado have not initiated their own programs. Whose responsibility is it? In some states, it is a function of the Department of Environmental Protection. In others, programs have grown out of waste management or energy offices. The bottom line is that someone in each state needs to champion the idea, gather other interested parties and come up with a plan.

Ideally, a state green lodging certification program should require an annual on-site audit. It is understandable that this may not always be possible because of funding issues but an on-site audit does add credibility to a program. The organization running a program should also run a first rate website to provide helpful information and to help market program participants. Initial qualification requirements should be kept at a moderate level to encourage participation. After the first year, hotels should be required to improve their programs annually.

Those states that build strong programs will have a competitive advantage when trying to attract government business. Earlier this year, the EPA announced that hotels hosting its functions would have to prove that they have certain types of environmental programs in place. The General Services Administration, which has a much greater impact on government employee travel, announced that it will also screen for green programs. We all know there are many factors that come into play when a meeting planner is planning a meeting. I would like to think, however, that in the years ahead, those states that have strong green lodging programs will be the first to come to mind.

If your state has a program under development or in place that has not been mentioned on Green Lodging News, please let me know by writing to editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

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As always, I can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.