Is your property certified green? In at least seven states, there are programs available—some run by state government agencies, some not—that enable hotels, motels and other lodging establishments to be certified as green hotels. By participating in these programs, owners and operators can cut costs by saving energy and water, reduce waste, improve air quality, and benefit in many other ways.
In Florida, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) runs a Green Lodging Certification Program. In Maine, the DEP has a similar one. Vermont’s program is part of the Vermont Business Environmental Partnership. In New Hampshire, the Sustainable Lodging & Restaurant Program is run by the New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Assn.
In Wisconsin, the state’s Department of Tourism has launched Travel Green Wisconsin. In California, the state has its own Green Lodging Program. Michigan’s energy office and its Department of Environmental Quality have just launched Green Lodging Michigan.
If you live in one of the states mentioned above and currently do not participate in a green program, get involved. If you live in a state that has no green certification program in place, contact your state government and/or hotel and lodging association and encourage them to start one. Volunteer your own time to help. Don’t hesitate to contact leaders in other states to learn how they started their programs. I am sure they would be willing to help.
Benefits of State Programs
I asked several certification program leaders what they thought the primary benefit was to participating in a statewide green hotel program. Karen Moore, green lodging coordinator for the Florida Green Lodging Program, says her state’s initiative has encouraged participating hotel employees to work together as a team. In fact, communication is part of the certification requirement in Florida.
“Parts of the properties that typically did not communicate now communicate,” Moore says. “By communicating, they are discovering new ways to reduce costs.”
Peter Cooke, program manager for Maine’s Green Lodging Certification Program, says interest in his state’s program has been infectious because of the strong link between nature and tourism. Participants there benefit from the marketing tools provided through the program. These include an environmental leader flag to fly at the property, as well as the use of a logo to use in advertising materials.
Michelle Veasey, sustainable lodging program manager for the New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Assn., says she believes one of the main benefits of her association’s program is the opportunity to network with other hoteliers.
“We offer quarterly seminars on a variety of topics,” Veasey says. “There is a lot of talking that goes on. Sharing ideas helps participants avoid problems.”
Each state has its own certification criteria. Maine uses a points system to measure accomplishments. In California, there are two participation levels: Leadership and Participation. “Participation” is the entry level for the program. No matter what level your property is at in its environmental efforts, the most important part is getting involved.
In future articles and columns, I will focus on each of the aforementioned state’s programs. I will also be touching on efforts in states such as Pennsylvania and Georgia that rely on national certification programs such as Green Seal. If I have missed a state that has a program, please let me know.
With only about 20 percent of states offering some type of green certification program, it is obvious that we all have a lot of work to do. Who knows, maybe someday there will be a nationwide system accepted by all. Hello AAA?
Odds and Ends
Green Lodging News welcomes DBS Lodging Technologies, maker of Entergize, as a Green Product Directory partner. David Donaldson, DBS’ vice president of sales and marketing, says Entergize’s guestroom energy control systems reduce guestroom energy consumption by 25 percent to 45 percent. Click here to check out Entergize.
As always, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (440) 243-2055. I look forward to hearing from you.