Ten years ago a business traveler looking for green lodging options would have to search long and hard for accommodations that offered in-room recycling, linen re-use programs, energy efficient light blubs, and water saving fixtures. Five years ago “certified green” hotels were tiny blips on the traveling public‘s radar.
Nearing the close of 2010, the business traveler has over 2000 “third-party certified” hotels in North America, dozens of USGBC LEED hotels and conference centers, corporate brands offering sustainability programs and LEED certified prototypes, numerous certifying organizations, Travelocity and Expedia “green lodging” search engines, and 35 State and Local Green Lodging programs to aid them in their quest for a sustainable overnight stay.
However there is no hospitality industry standard definition of a green hotel. Some will argue that simply implementing guest room recycling, using green cleaning products, and linen re-use programs are enough. Others say a self-certified audit program from an outside party such as following state lodging guideline qualifies. Even more say only a third party audited and certified hotel is the only way to guarantee compliance to strict standards.
Most sustainable industry professional’s definition of green hotel include green policies and procedures in place that at a minimum take into account energy, water, waste streams, indoor air quality, and green cleaning. Furthermore and most importantly, the hotels are audited and certified on a consistent basis from an independent third party organization. A third party certification provides accountability and assurance that the various standards are followed and to avoid “green washing”.
GreenKey’s Certification program has made tremendous gains throughout North America over the last five years. Currently they have over 1500 certified green hotels in the US and Canada and expect that number to increase with recently signed agreements with Hyatt, Carlson, Motel 6 and MGM Resorts.
According to Zach Cohen, GreenKey Global VP of Sales & Marketing, “the GreenKey Program has been well received because it allows for flexibility in the certification process by using a earn/deduction point scoring system rather than a pass/fail method. We expect to see another 1000 to 1500 properties earn their certification in 2011.” Additional programs such as EcoRooms/EcoSuites, LEED, GreenSeal and EnergyStar for hotels are available to hotel operators. All of which have their strengths and offer marketing advantages.
The green hotel movement is only going to gain momentum as more states and municipalities create green lodging initiatives and corporate brands adopt certification programs as standard practice. It will be exciting to see how the next ten years un-fold.
Third Party Certifications 2005-2010
Jeff Kiec, LEED-AP and Director of Sustainability at EcoGreenHotel, is a veteran of the environmental service industry. His experience includes engineering building assessments, operational sustainability audits, and environmental site assessments. He has project experience in a range of property types including industrial, multi-family residential and commercial office buildings. As the Sustainability Director for Deep Ellum, a historic arts and entertainment neighborhood in Dallas, Texas, Kiec is responsible for education and working with neighborhood businesses and property owners to incorporate sustainable building technologies.
Many hotels have taken the plunge into green standards and certification as thousands of buildings and manufacturing plants have earned the EPA’s Energy Star through the recent “green” trend years. Getting started is simple as there are a variety of everyday appliances and electronics that almost all hotel offices operate daily, such as: photocopiers, computers, printers, fax machines, and refrigerators. Whether you are just starting out or are an energy efficient hotel but overlooked these basic steps, there are money-saving and environmentally responsible solutions to reducing energy use with all of these equipments.
- PHOTOCOPIERS that are switched off at night and on weekends—either manually, or with an automatic time switch can yield a savings of 40% to 60% per year [that] can be achieved for each photocopier in the workplace according to research by the Government of South Australia.
- DESKTOP COMPUTERS can yield an even higher return profit since a modern desktop computer costs about $110 a year to run 24-hours a day, but just by turning them off each night a single computer can reduce its energy use by 70%. If your green hotel is purchasing a new desktop, be sure to look for the energy efficiency logo by Energy Star. Hotels can also refer to the EPEAT ratings to compare manufacturers and models of environmentally friendly computers.
- PRINTING SMARTER is also a great money and energy saver when documents are printed double- sided and by having toner cartridges refilled or remanufactured. Paper costs can be almost halved simply by printing double-sided, and you can save $100 on toner and $30 on ink by refilling your printer and toner cartridges.
The environmental reflections are also positive as Office Depot states that “each remanufactured toner cartridge keeps approximately 2.5 pounds of metal and plastic out of landfills…and conserves about a half gallon of oil.”
- PURCHASING A FAX MACHINE can also yield long-term savings when an inkjet machine is chosen over a thermal machine. Although a thermal fax machine costs less to buy, the thermal paper costs a lot more than the plain paper used by inkjet fax machines, isn’t recyclable, and needs to be photocopied for long term storage.
- ENERGY STAR CERTIFIED REFRIGERATOR can save at least 30% when upgraded from an older, noncertified refrigerator.
Energy efficient hotels is the future. Therefore, become and energy efficient hotel not only to compete but for your bottom line savings.
Nationwide we’re seeing growth in the green economy, but hurdles still remain as hotels, companies, and other businesses look for resources and funds.
One growth area that we have noticed is the emergence of opportunities around energy. With Obama focusing on green and clean technology, we’ll be seeing more funds (tax rebates, federal energy incentives, etc) allocated to help businesses move towards our national goals. Case in point, over the next three years, $900 million in federal and state grant money will be going to Chicago for energy efficiency work according to Chicago’s Department of Environment.
Good news for the future, but what about now? Not only are resources needed, but money is needed. With banks virtually putting a freeze on grants to small businesses including hotels, more and more hotels are struggling to either meet budget goals, or even sustain their financing, forget about trying to fund an energy project.
So what can green hotels do now with limited funds? Aside from the simple measures such as replacing incandescent lighting to CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) or LEDs, we, at EcoGreenHotel,also recommend green hotels to prepare for an energy efficiency project.
Energy Usage & Benchmarking
It is astonishing to see how many properties are still not tracking their energy/utility usage. As a company focused on helping hotels stay in business, we don’t start any hotel energy projects without benchmarking it in ENERY STAR Portfolio Manager. Tracking and managing your energy performance is critical.
It is very simple, if you do not know where you are starting, the baseline, how do you know how far you have gone? How do you quantify energy savings or monitor your energy usage? How do you know if your most recent energy conservation measure reduced your usage? You have to evaluate progress, measure results and benchmark against your competition to know exactly where you stand. Otherwise it is going to cost you.
The key action hotels seem to overlook is they can start benchmarking and tracking energy usage anytime – even today. Hotels don’t have to wait until they have secured funds for an energy efficiency project or wait for senior management approval or new budgets. On the contrary, understanding current and past energy use is how many organizations identify opportunities to improve hotel energy performance and gain financial benefits. It can pay for itself by highlighting which hotels use the most energy, pointing to areas of greatest opportunity, and even identifying errors in utility bills, such as overcharges, that might have otherwise gone unnoticed and paid.
Assessing your energy performance helps you to:
- Categorize current energy use by fuel type, operating division, facility, product line, etc.
- Identify high performing hotels for recognition and replicable practices.
- Prioritize poor performing hotels for immediate improvement.
- Understand the contribution of energy expenditures to operating costs.
- Develop a historical perspective and context for future actions and decisions.
- Establish reference points for measuring and rewarding good performance.
In the end, starting sooner than later is going to benefit in the long run. Not only will the tracking system for maintaining the ENERGY STAR portfolio be established, but it will also become a standard process that your staff will be familiar with when you do start implementing your hotel’s energy efficiency projects, which will then allow free time for other things.
Whatever the driving force, energy efficiency will be an integral part of staying successful in this competitive business environment. The phrase, “going ‘green’ to make ‘green’” holds true. Global Business Network (GBN) in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and with the help of twenty major U.S. company senior executives have identified a set of strategies that will help businesses act now to prepare for future energy-related risks.
Plan for the Future
Scenario planning is a strategic planning tool that has been in existence for a while. Industry leaders have implemented this strategy to identify and develop plans for coping with some of the major risks the future might hold. The aim is to highlight the risks and uncertainties of the future that one should be starting to deal with now.
For example, Shell used scenario development as a basis for formulating strategies to cope with the possibility of OPEC reducing oil supply and raising prices, an eventuality no other oil company foresaw. When this happened in 1973, within two years Shell went from the world’s eight largest oil company to the second largest.
The executive group participating in GBN’s workshops created the following four plausible “roads” ahead, each posing a specific challenge:
- The Same Road – where the world continues much in the same direction it appears to be going now in regard to energy and environmental concerns around climate change
- The Long Road – where the world undergoes a significant shift in the economic, geopolitical and energy centers of gravity
- The Broken Road – where the world continues much in the same way as today, but is then hit by a severe event that overturns established systems and rules
- The Fast Road – where reasoned decisions and investments about energy efficiency and climate risk are made early enough to make a difference
Take Action Now
All twenty-business leaders were asked to explore the impacts of these four “road” scenarios in regards to energy strategy and management in their companies. “Our group of business executives looked to the scenarios and considered the strategies that would enable a company to successfully travel along whichever future actually emerges,” write Erik Smith and Peter Schwartz, authors of GBN’s ‘Energy Strategy for the Road Ahead’ article.
The group concluded all businesses should take the following five robust steps to prepare and ensure energy success regardless of the future:
- Master the fundamentals of energy efficiency.
Build the culture through leadership and with the help of experts. Set goals, measure and track energy performance, establish accountability and other systems across the business.
- Take both a longer and broader view of investments and strategic decisions about energy.
Make major strategic decisions (e.g. technology choices, facility location for new builds) with energy cost, use and supply in mind. See the entire Energy Value Chain, including upstream inputs from suppliers (into internal operations) and downstream outputs to customers (from internal operations).
- Search out business transformation opportunities in the way the business manages, procures and uses energy.
Frame energy as a lever for positive growth and change within the business, not simply a cost. Be innovative and aggressive in pursuing and publicizing new product and service offerings based on new energy technologies and supplies.
- Prepare contingent strategies for emergent future scenarios.
Rehearse specific aspects of the “road ahead”, including substantial and sustained swings in energy price and supply, severe weather events and penalties or incentives around energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Actively manage exposure to risks and ready plans. Monitor for signs of which “road ahead” is emerging.
- Take personal action.
Both corporate leaders and employees can take numerous green actions today whether at work our outside.
Content and information retrieved from the following source (credited to):
Smith, Erik & Schwartz, Peter. (2007). Energy Strategy for the Road Ahead (Global Business Network, a member of the Monitor Group). Retrieved from http://gbn.com/articles/pdfs/GBN_EPA_Energy%20Strategy%20Scenarios.pdf.
Daylighting is defined as the practice of placing windows or other openings and reflective surfaces so that during the day natural light provides energy efficient lighting inside. So why would a hotel owner want to take on the challenge of using daylight to light their hotel?
The short answer: to create beautiful spaces, save energy and operating costs and reduce our impact on our planet In one word: money
Good daylighting design could save from 15 to 75 percent of the energy used forelectric lighting in a hotel building. Of course, energy savings depend on various factors such as occupancy patterns, control strategy, design, energy usage, and the amount of daylight.
It’s natural. Using natural light from the sun costs nothing to the environment and pays big dividends to hotel guests and employees. As a great energy efficient lighting solution for hotels, daylighting consumes less energy and thereby reduces fossil fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions associated with global warming and climate change.
It works. Research has discovered that people thrive in naturally lit environments. Studies have shown that daylighting has a direct impact on well-being, productivity and overall sense of satisfaction – shoppers linger longer and buy more; students do better on tests; workers are more productive and absent less often.
It’s smart.Aside from making a green hotel statement about the owners, operators and staff (socially and sustainably responsible) daylighting can also:
- Reduce lighting and operating costs
- Reduce cooling costs (in almost all climates all year round)
- Be accomplished without significantincrease in construction costs in new construction
Because seeing is believing,project centers known as “living labs” have been created to examine the actual effectiveness of daylighting. These include the State of Wisconsin Administration Building in Milwaukee and the Hoffman Corp headquarters in Appleton, Wisconsin. “We use the term ‘cool-daylighting’ to emphasize that daylighting isn’t just big windows,” says Abby Vogen, project director at Energy Center of Wisconsin. “It is the orientation of the building, glazing, energy-efficient light fixtures, mechanical systems, and how all these components are impacted by natural lighting.”
Results of the experiment conducted by the Energy Center of Wisconsin at the Energy Resource Station in Iowa to see if cooling energy could be saved using daylighting design were considerable. Comparison of two rooms (one standard and the other high-performance) yielded 32 percent savings on annual lighting costs and total overall annual energy savings of 22 percent.
Even retail stores like Wal-mart are beginning to see the environmental and monetary benefits of daylighting for both employees and consumers. In an experiment, stores that included skylights over certain departments found that overall sales per square foot were higher in those departments lit by natural (energy-efficient) light.
For existing green hotels, a high-performance daylighting system may initially require a significant investment. However, if the project team uses an integrated, strategic design approach, the greenhotels overall long-term savings will make up for any initial dollars spent on daylighting.
Rising energy costs, environmental impact, and green design has compelled green hotels across the country to find economical alternatives and adapt new ideas, or in this case, reconsider old ideas made new again.
One Easy Way to Get Started
If you stop to think about it, your hotel is sort of like a machine. It’s got a ton of moving parts – the building and all of its infrastructure, the staff and administrative personnel, the grounds – all of those components have to be in good working order or the whole operation will suffer.
But there’s another moving part to your machine that you might not have considered right off the bat, and that’s the energy that powers your entire hotel engine. If your building, its infrastructure, your personnel and the grounds surrounding the building are not conserving energy like they could be, the machine that is your green hotel will eventually sputter and stop running. It won’t be able to sustain itself, and it won’t be able to compete with all the other green hotel machines that are running at peak efficiency.
Even if you have implemented a green initiative or two at your property, there is still room for improvement, because green lodging is not a destination – it’s a journey. And a journey of a thousand miles begins with… say it with me now… a single step!
Maybe your green team would like to improve your property’s energy efficiency but you’re confused about the next logical step. Or perhaps your hotel has yet to launch a green initiative and you don’t even know where to begin. One easy way to overcome either of those scenarios and kick start the process in a single step is to conduct an energy efficiency analysis.
An energy efficiency analysis is an in-depth study of your property’s energy usage. It shows you – in black and white – how each of your hotel’s moving parts can become more efficient, and how you can save energy and money without disrupting the guest experience (and in many cases, how you can actually enhance the guest experience).
One of the most important things to come out of an energy efficiency analysis is benchmarking, which gives you a starting point from which to measure your green hotel’s progress toward greater efficiency and savings. The most trusted benchmarking tool for hotels is the one developed by Energy Star, which is a joint program of the U.S. Department of Energy and the Department of Environmental Protection.
Almost 4,000 hotels have used the Energy Star benchmarking tool as part of their energy efficiency analysis. To learn more, visit www.EcoGreenHotel.com and click on “Energy Star” under Our Services section.
By Jeff Kiec, Director of Sustainability – EcoGreenHotel
In today’s strenuous economic conditions, hotels are looking for every advantage to increase occupancy and lower operating expenses. Fortunately, there is a program that can help do both. The U.S. EPA’s EnergyStar Labeling program for hospitality buildings offers solutions to property owners to find hidden operational cost savings and unlock energy efficiency throughout the property. In addition, since EnergyStar is the most recognized eco-label by environmentally conscious consumers, it provides positive connection to the traveling public.
Energy Efficiency = Cost $avings
- U.S. hotels spend close to $4 billion on energy every year.
- A 10 % reduction in energy costs is equivalent to increasing ADR by $0.83 for limited service hotels and by $2.45 for full-service hotels.
- Hotels and motels spend an average of $2,196 per available room each year on energy, an amount that represents about 6 percent of all hotel operating costs
Hotels can dramatically improve energy performance and thus operating costs with simple steps that will leave additional capital to invest in further property improvements. In addition to delivering financial savings, cost reductions through energy efficiency translate into greater profitability for hotel owners.
Increased Recognition = Additional Revenue
- Leading online travel companies, Travelocity (Green Directory) and Orbitz (Eco-Toursim Travel Guide), enhanced their online hotel listing to allow travelers to easily identify properties that have earned the EnergyStar Label.
Leading hotel corporations are taking advantage of the cost savings found within the program. Hilton Hotels earned the EPA’s EnergyStar Award for Excellence in Energy Management and ties their hotel general managers’ annual bonuses to energy performance. By meeting Hilton’s goal of reducing energy consumption by 5% for every owned hotel, a manager’s annual bonus was increased. This resulted in almost every property meeting the goal. Marriott has over 275 hotels with its EnergyStar label, more than any other hotel company. The US EPA also presented Marriott with its EnergyStar Sustained Excellence Award and has named the company “Partner of the Year” since 2004.
Currently there are 415 labeled green hotels: which represents 4% of the total labeled buildings in the US. (see figure 1).
Less than 1% of all of the 47,000 US hotels are Energy Star Labeled, which means yours can stand-alone in its local market. EcoGreenHotel can assist your property achieve the EnergyStar Label through its onsite Energy Efficiency Analysis and EnergyStar benchmarking and labeling services. http://www.ecogreenhotel.com/energystarbenchmarking.php
EcoGreenHotel recognizes the importance of using products made from renewable resources in the effort to lessen the impact disposable products have on our environment. By using products made from renewable resources such as corn, sugarcane, PLA, Plant Starch and post consumer fibers, carbon footprints can be significantly reduced.
Eco-Products offers a 100 percent compostable alternative to conventional tree-based paper products. Known as Bagasse, these paper items are made from sugarcane fiber after the sugar ‘juice’ has been extracted. This renewable resource is grown and harvested every year and a half. Typically, sugarcane fiber is a discarded by-product from cane sugar manufacturing, but Eco-Products uses the material, creating an end-user product and completing the circle.
What is PLA?
PLA stands for polylactic acid, or Polylactide, a versatile polymer produced by NatureWorks LLC. PLA is made from lactic acid. Ingeo™ biopolymer is the world’s first and only performance plastic made from 100% annually renewable resources. It offers the cost and performance necessary to compete with traditional petroleum-based materials in the packaging and serviceware markets. It’s clear and strong like petroleum-based plastic, but with the crucial benefit of being commercially compostable.
Plant Starch is the material we use to make our high heat tolerance cutlery. This material is made from a variety of plant starches including corn, potatoes, and other vegetables. It has a heat tolerance of 220 degrees, which makes it optimal for hot foods.
What is PCF (Post Consumer Fiber)?
Post consumer recycled fiber (PCF) is one of the materials we use to make our new Evolution World hot cups. Post consumer waste is material discarded after someone uses it. Post consumer waste has served its intended purpose, passed through the hands of a final consumer, and has been discarded for disposal or recycling.
Our Evolution World hot cups are made with 24% post consumer recycled fiber. That means that 24% of the fiber used to make these cups has already served a purpose as something else (office paper most commonly), was sent through the recycling stream, and was repurposed into foodservice grade paperboard. The FDA for foodservice use certifies this paperboard.
Offering products with post consumer recycled fiber has the added benefit of helping stimulate demand for recycled paper, thus helping support the recycling markets here in the United States.
If you follow the news, chances are you’ve come across some sort of reference to carbon offsets. Its become all the rage as events like the winter Olympics and New York Fashion Week to people like Al Gore, Dixie Chicks and actors including George Clooney buy offsets in an effort to become “carbon neutral.” Not to mention, businesses around the world are taking a closer at their contributions to climate change, with an increasing number voluntarily reducing their “carbon footprint” too. What about you and your business?
Before you understand what’s involved, you need to know what it “is.”
Offsetting, in simple terms, is paying someone else to absorb or avoid the release of a ton of CO2 elsewhere so that the purchaser of a carbon offset (or credit) can aim to compensate for or, in concept, “offset” their own emissions.
Carbon offsets are a form of trade. When you buy an offset, you fund projects that reduce GHG emissions. Since GHG emissions circulate freely in the atmosphere and spread around the planet, the projects can be located anywhere in the world and still make an impact.
There are two types of carbon markets: compliance schemes and voluntary programs. Compliance markets are created and regulated by mandatory national, regional and international carbon reduction regimes like Kyoto Protocol (the largest). The voluntary carbon market functions outside of the compliance market. It enables businesses, NGOs and individuals to offset their emissions by purchasing offset independent of the Kyoto Protocol and local regulatory systems.
Why do businesses buy carbon offsets?
- Strengthen environmental image
- Position to meet upcoming government legislation on emission reductions
- Market differentiation by growing sales and brand awareness
- Communicate action on climate change to guests, employees, investors and other stakeholders
- Starting point of real emission reduction strategy
Hotel businesses buy carbon offsets to reduce their carbon footprint or build up their green image on a voluntary basis. Here’s what you need to know:
The voluntary market does not have a specific, well-defined regulatory apparatus, and is actually a mix of many different types of activities, providers and standards.
- There are numerous standards within the market from the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Gold Standard, ISO 14064, VERplus to certification programs as the Green-e Climate Program.
- Each provider is different. The company’s operations and project vary tremendously from renewable energy, methane capture, energy efficiency to industrial gases and forest & agriculture.
Since there are endless options and the market certainly isn’t short of players, it can definitely get confusing. This is why you’ll need to keep a scorecard. There are many factors that need to be considered, as:
- Offsets should come from a real project that has actually been implemented or will be in the near future (guaranteed)
- It’s vital that the offset comes from a project that wouldn’t have happened otherwise (in “addition” to business-as-usual)
- Emission reduction from the offset project needs to be accurately quantified (establish baseline and monitoring plan)
- Offsets should be independently verified
- Provider should be registered with the government or be established as a contractor to avoid double counting (which has been a major issue)
- Offsets should be a permanent project making a permanent impact
- Offsets should not cause or contribute to adverse effects on human health or environment
- Offsets should provide development benefits (sustainability) to host country
These are areas I consider to be very important when evaluating a provider.
Going Carbon Neutral Game Plan
I recommend a three-step process to neutralize your hotel’s carbon emissions.
STEP 1: Conserve Resources
There are many strategies to conserve resources from reducing energy usage, water conservation to waste management. Your hotel can easily reduce energy use and save money by installing energy efficient lighting, water conserving fixtures and purchasing efficient electronics and appliances – to name a few. The team at EcoGreenHotel can help you implement an energy efficient strategy.
STEP 2: Buy Green
From clean, renewable energy to green, environmentally friendly products like cleaning supplies, you can find everything you need these days to operate your hotel sustainably. Many local utilities are beginning to generate their own sources of power through small-scale alternative energy projects. Products and services that have earned third-party certifications, contain recycled content, are recyclable and/or biodegradable and contain fewer or no toxins are now easy to find at www.EcoGreenHotelStore.com.
STEP 3: Offset Carbon Emissions
Take a look at the following helpful sites:
Carbon Offset Project List (www.carbonoffsetlist.org)
Carbon Catalog Project List (www.carboncatalog.org)
Clean Development Mechanism Approved Project List (http://cdm.unfccc.int)
EcoGreenHotel offers carbon market services to accurately quantify your hotel’s carbon footprint, help you offset your emissions by identify worldwide projects and monetize the credits to generate added income.
From a different angle, offsets do present a paradox. On one hand, they offer a cost-effective tool to reduce net emissions. However, as their popularity grows so does the criticism. Critics have likened corporate offsets to “bargaining with the devil” and putting “lipstick on a pig.” Despite the controversy, carbon offsets should not be ignored. Around the world, increasingly diverse companies of all sizes are finding offsetting to be an important component to their business model – from relationships with partners and customers to it being an option to address the pressures associated with climate change.