SILVER SPRING, MD.—Choice Hotels International’s announcement that it will require U.S. Econo Lodge hotels to participate in its Room to be Green program should elevate its overall number of Room to be Green participants to approximately 2,000 U.S. hotels by the end of the year. Currently, Room to be Green is an optional program for Choice’s other brands. Created in 2008, Room to be Green includes three elements: compact fluorescent or LED bulbs in all guest fixtures, excluding ceiling lights; a towel/linen reuse program; and recycling for guests and staff. Choice hotels that participate in Room to be Green are noted as such on the Choice Hotels site with these words: “Supports Green Practices.”
Craig Mustard, head of domestic brand management for Econo Lodge, said the new Econo Lodge mandate was made after visiting with Econo Lodge owners and operators—each part of the Econo Lodge Franchisee Association—to get their feedback.
“I was surprised how easy it was,” Mustard says. “I haven’t heard any negative comments. We have some doing parts of it already. We are always looking at ways to improve our ROI. We know there will be hotels that will struggle with having to recycle.”
Still Ironing Out Reuse Program Messaging
Mustard says Choice is currently working on a new concept for its towel and linen reuse program. “The messaging will be very clear and simple,” he says. “Anything we do, we try to make it easy for guests.”
Mustard adds that the recycling component of Room to be Green is meant, in part, to appeal to Econo Lodge’s younger travelers—those used to thinking about the environment when throwing things away. Econo Lodge franchisees will have the option of offering either in-room or communal recycling.
“At our convention in May, we will show our franchisees the recycling containers they can choose from,” Mustard says.
About 200 Econo Lodges are already participating in Room to be Green. Some Econo Lodge franchisees have gone beyond the required three elements and also installed low-flow toilets, programmable thermostats and other conservation-related products.
No Turning Back on Room to be Green
“We want all hotels to start somewhere,” Mustard says. “For Econo Lodge this will be our big green initiative this year. It is a program that we are going to stick with.”
Earlier this month, Choice announced that construction had begun on a 182-room Cambria Suites hotel in Washington, D.C. just one block from the Washington Convention Center. The property will be the first Cambria Suites hotel to be LEED certified.
Choice’s Econo Lodge announcement comes just a month prior to Choice moving into its new headquarters in Rockville, Md. That headquarters has been designed and constructed to LEED Platinum standards and will be wind-powered via purchase of renewable energy credits (REC). The building will feature a green roof.
Go to Room to be Green.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.