The 411 on Top Green Hotel Certifications
The race continues as hotels strive to one-up their competition. In January we had published an investigative article on green hotel certifications exploring various anglesof “why certify” and details of major certification programs. As the number of green certification programs continues to grow, we want to revisit some of the prominent certifications that continue to lead the hospitality lodging industry on the green trend.
Compared to the beginning of the year, hoteliers have more options than ever when it comes to selecting which green lodging certification program to participate and obtain. From established worldwide green certification programs to the recent state versions, analyzing the options could be overwhelming. The key factor in selecting the appropriate program is to ensure it provides absolute value through quantifiable results (ie. energy usage, cost reduction, guest satisfaction, etc). We recommend our clients to start with a hotel energy benchmarking and tracking system.
Are you in? Standing on the sidelines can cost you money in the long run. While obtaining a green certification is not mandatory, it could mean you are missing out on some great benefits, which include:
- Reduced operating costs
- Improve the bottom line
- Demonstrate leadership in sustainability
- Enhanced reputation, brand and market value
- Federal and state tax benefits
- Reduction of green house emissions
- Attract eco-conscious travelers
- Healthier environment for employees and guests
- Attraction and retraction of talent
There are a variety of green certifications that can denote that a hotel is implementing specific green practices, however each program has a different focus, different priorities and different standards — no two are alike. In a recent article published by Hotel & Leisure Advisors, four aspects have been identified to distinguish the focus of green certification programs: “These broad categories consist of certifications for overall building structures, the building fixtures themselves, building operations, and overall management practices.”
Keeping these categories in mind, the following are top green lodging certification programs (in alphabetical order):
- Audubon Green Leaf™ Eco-Rating Program: (www.greenleaf.auduboninternational.org) This program works with hotels to ensure that they are using green practices in their upkeep and everyday running of the establishment.A tiered certification program where environmental measures are evaluated according to: water quality, water conservation, waste minimization, resource conservation, and energy efficiency.
- EcoRooms® & EcoSuites™: (www.ecorooms.com) Certified properties must meet eight strict eco-criteria for membership and certification. The criteria includes: use of Green Seal certified cleaning and paper products, towel and linen reuse program, recyclable waste program, energy efficient lighting, high efficiency plumbing, and 100% smoke-free properties.
- EPA’s Energy Star label: (www.energystar.gov) The Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program enables buildings to qualify through meeting strict energy performance standards. Energy Star labeled properties use less energy, have reduced operating expenses, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. To be certified, the property mustattain a minimum score of 75, the top 25%, based on EPA’s National Energy Performance Rating System. As of November 2010, there are 426Energy Star labeled U.S. hotels.
- Green Globe Certification: (www.greenglobecertification.com) This is a certification label for sustainability in both management and operations. Certification criteria cover several areas, including sustainable management and social economic, cultural heritage, and environmental aspects of sustainability.The program’s criteria are also updated annually to ensure international compliance.
- Green Key®: (www.green-key.org) The is an international eco-label for leisure organizations including hotels, conference centers, youth hostels, and campsites. As a graduated rating system, hotels are given guidance on how to “unlock” opportunities to the next level. The program assesses the five main operational areas of a property and covers nine sustainable practices.
- Green Seal certification: (www.greenseal.org) This tiered certification is presented to those lodging properties that achieve various levels of compliance with GS-33, Green Seal Environmental Leadership Standard for Lodging Properties. Properties must demonstrate science-based evaluation of sustainable practices in following areas: waste minimization, energy efficiency, conservation and management, management of fresh water resources, wastewater management, hazardous substances, and environmentally conscious purchasing.
- USGBC LEED® certification: (www.usbgc.org/leed) The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance. Promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.
Rating: One to Five ‘Green Leafs’
Recognized/Chosen by: The State of New York as statewide hospitality ‘greening’ goal.
Rating: Must meet all eight program requirements
Recognized/Chosen by: American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA) and the American Automobile Association (AAA).
Rating: Must obtain a score of 75 or higher
Rating: Must achieve threshold of at least 35% of the total 1,000 points
Rating: One to Five Green Keys
Recognized/Chosen by: Carlson Hotels, Hyatt Hotels, Motel 6, and Accor North America. The state of Indiana as statewide green initiatives program.
Rating: Bronze, Silver or Gold Levels
Recognized/Chosen by: The city of Los Angeles through its Green Business Initiative, as well as Chicago through its Green Hotels Initiative.
Rating: Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum Levels
Susan Patel, VP of Technologies & Communications. Leads business development and operations and is the Site Director and Managing Editor of EcoGreenHotel online publications.
A Road Map for Your Green Hotel
ROBBINSVILLE, N.J. –According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, American hotels spend an average of almost $2,200 per available room on energy each year, representing about six percent of all operating costs.
A reduction in energy consumption of just ten percent is the same as raising the average daily room rate at your green hotelby $.062 to $1.35. That savings can really add up – look at what it did for Marriott International. Just by changing lighting and laundry systems at its green hotels, the company was able to save almost $6 million in 2006 alone, not to mention reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 70,000 tons!
What’s that you say? Your green hotel is nothing like Marriott International so this information doesn’t apply to you? Okay…maybe the Willard Intercontinental in Washington, D.C. is more your type. Just by changing to CFL lighting in guest rooms and commons areas, the Willard saved a whopping $100,000 in one year! The upgrade paid for itself in just six months, and guest complaints about lighting quality actually decreased after the property made the switch. Who said that guest satisfaction goes down when hotels go green?
There’s never been a better time to increase energy efficiency at your green hotel. The savings are real, the benefits are quantifiable, and the expert help is right here. EcoGreenHotel has guided green hotels from coast to coast through the process of benchmarking, certification, upgrading, and funding. They’re pros at helping properties just like yours locate and obtain the federal, state and local tax incentives, rebates, grants and loans to get the job done, quickly and cost-effectively.
We’ve got the roadmap to energy efficiency and major cost savings for your green hotel, and we’re ready to roll!
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.
Today’s new generation of optimized, “high-efficiency” T8 lamps and electronic ballasts are available in a range of energy-saving models. Energy efficient lamp and ballast systems contribute significantly to reducing energy consumption and costs by nearly 30%. Paybacks of one to three years are common.
Upgrading your hotel’s fluorescent lamps and ballasts will:
- Reduce energy consumption
- Lower the hotel’s energy cost
- Simplify maintenance and stocking requirements (low life-cycle costs), and
- Provide illumination that closely resembles natural light
According to one property installation conducted by Cushman & Wakefield, “these products can reduce total system wattage by over 45% relative to the use of older T12 fluorescent systems driven by magnetic ballasts.”
T8 lamps: Slim profile enables them to function more efficiently including longer lamp life, better lumen maintenance and higher color rendering capability.
Electronic ballasts: Designed to provide right voltage and current to lamp (programmable model). Use high frequency and solid-state circuitry instead of heavy copper. Save one watt of energy and product more light for each watt, run cooler and last longer.
Installing new high performance T8 lamps along with electronic ballasts in guest bathrooms and the back-of-house of a 300-room hotel.
In guest bathrooms, two 40-watt fluorescent lights can be replaced with 25-watt T8 lamps and electronic ballast. The 290 back-of-house lamps, which run on average of 18 hours, can be converted to 25-watt T8 lamps.
Energy and Cost Analysis
[Assumptions: occupancy gathered from P&L, hours of lamps based on national average, and one electronic ballast for two T8 lamps installed]
Cost per kWh as stated on electric bills is approximately $0.144.
Cost per T8 lamp and half of electronic ballast including installation is $14.25.
Guest Rooms X Occupancy Rate X Number of Lamps X Reduction in Wattage X Number of Hours Used X Total Days X Kwhr Multiplier = Total kWh Saved
300 X 67% X 2 X 15w X 6 X 365 X .001 = 13,205.7 kWh
Number of Lamps X Reduction in Wattage X Number of Hours Used X Total Days X Kwhr Multiplier = Total kWh Saved
290 X 15w X 18 X 365 X .001 = 28,579.5 kWh
|Energy & Cost Savings||Annual Electric Savings||No. Lamps|
|Guest Bathroom||13,206 kWh||600|
|Total Annual kWh Savings||41,786 kWh|
|Annual kWh Electric Savings($0.144)||$6,017|
|Investment Payback (ROI)||Investment ($14.25 ea)||No. Lamps|
|Return on Investment||2.1 years|
The numbers speak for themselves. You can easily calculate your green hotel’s custom lighting project’s ROI and savings by simply using the above equations.For more information on T8 lamps or to reach EcoGreenHotel’s recommended lighting specialists click here to contact us.
Overall, lighting represents almost a quarter (sometimes even more) of all electricity consumed in a typical hotel, not including its effect on cooling loads. According to ENERGY STAR, lighting retrofits can reduce lighting electricity use by 50 percent or more, depending on the starting point, and cut cooling energy requirements by 10 to 20 percent as well.
Even if your hotel’s budget is small you can still reduce your costs by upgrading to compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) – if you haven’t already. A Michigan Marriott replaced its public-space incandescent lights with CFLs and saved more than $40,000 in energy and maintenance costs. The historic Willard InterContinental in Washington, D.C., installed CFLs in common areas and guest rooms. The investment resulted in few complaints about lighting quality and a six-month payback based on energy savings.
In conclusion, whether you call them energy efficient, energy saving, high performance or high efficiency lighting, upgrading your hotel lights to the new generation technology makes cents!
A hybrid structure is evolving where a “corporate green team” is created to bring staff from all departments together to help implement and support strategic sustainability initiatives. They also act as a cross-functional umbrella group to screen ideas, identify resources, provide support and help link green team activities with corporate sustainability objectives.
Click here to access a basic outline of getting started and effective ideas:
Best Green Practices & Green Teams
Green Team Series
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Making the Business Case
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.
Organic cotton to bamboo, these are the threads you should know about.
When it comes to purchasing your linens, you have the power to make a difference. It’s up to us,consumers including green hotel purchasers, to buy from companies that will create a shift in the market for our environment and long-term health.
You should know that not only are chemicals in the foods that we eat, but they are also found in our upholsteries, blankets, bed sheets and clothes. More and more, people are experiencing health problems such as rashes, allergies, respiratory and concentration problems due to chemical sensitivities. This adds to the growing demand of “green” hotel guest rooms.
So what makes fabric “eco-friendly”? Wikipedia defines eco-friendly (as well as environmentally friendly, nature friendly and green) to be used to refer to goods and services, laws, guidelines and policies considered to inflict minimal to no harm to the environment.
“Green” fabrics, for the most part, include any fabric made from sustainable or organic natural materials using fewer chemicals, sustainable operations and environmentally supportive manufacturing methods. Green fabric is also used to describe recycled fabric.
Lets focus on the following four eco-friendly fabrics. Keep in mind, these aren’t the only eco-friendly fabrics available – we’ve chosen these to start with.
1–Organic cotton: is weaved from non-genetically modified plants. It is certified as grown without the use of any synthetic agricultural chemicals, such as fertilizers or pesticides. It doesn’t damage the quality of the cotton or the land and surrounding ecology.
2– Organic linen with flax fibers: True organic linen is created with flax fibers. It comes in the color of a natural cream or light tan since pure white is only achieved through bleaching. Although it wrinkles easily, it is a great hot-weather fabric because it absorbs moisture without getting damp, thus drying quickly and cooling the skin. If you accept the wrinkle look charm, keep in mind flax fiber is stronger than cotton fiber and is less elastic.
3–Hemp: Ok, so it’s still illegal to grow hemp in the Unities States due to its association with marijuana. However, legislation is in the works to change. Right now it’s grown elsewhere in the world and, unfortunately, this increases it’s carbon footprint. Nonetheless, hemp products are manufactured in the U.S.
As for the hemp itself, it’s grown easily and is environmentally friendly. The fibers are mildew-resistant, antimicrobial, UV protecting and even fire proof. This makes it an ideal candidate for fabrics that get a lot of use, but it isn’t the softest option around.
4–Soy: It’s softer than cotton, much more durable, warm, absorbent, and lightweight. Made out of discarded tofu, it’s considered the ultimate sustainable fiber and sometimes referred to as “vegetarian cashmere” – “cashmere” due to its softness and luxurious appeal.
So how do you make fiber out of tofu, you ask? Well, leftovers from tofu manufacturing are gathered, liquefied, and extruded through spinnerets to create filaments that are spun into fine yarns. (Fun fact: Henry Ford first investigated the use of soy in textiles for his automobile in the 1940’s, but the arrival of synthetics on the scene stole the show – however it’s now being rediscovered).
Side note: There is much controversy around the use of bamboo for fabrics and products. Therefore, keep an eye out for EcoGreenHotel’sbamboo pros and cons article to help hotel operators make a well-informed decision.
Our GREEN TEAM series is coming to a close soon. We’ve covered numerous topics on how to engage your employees in sustainability, now we’ll take a look at how leading companies are engaging their customers through different mediums and a quick idea on how you can create a green tool kit
Engage Customers to be Part of the Solution
Without customers, you can’t run a business. What would happen if you work together to achieve a goal? eBay realized the most powerful thing they could do as a company would be to invite their consumers into the equation. Many of their customers have green values—when they opened the eBay Green Team (ebay.com/greenteam), 40,000 people signed up over night. The Green Team, along with their corporate commitment to sustainability, has strengthened relationships with their customers and helped them achieve an authentic green identity in the marketplace.
Whether it’s a top down or bottom up approach, at one point or another you can’t avoid your guest’s needs. Start taking action by creating a Green Team at your hotel and explore creative ways you can engage your guests during their stay and away. Create a space for them to express themselves about your initiatives and allow them to make recommendations or participate in one way or another. Who knows, they might have some good ideas too.
As part of Intuit’s sustainability strategy, which reaches millions of small businesses with its software programs, have made a commitment to helping their customers be more sustainable. They developed Green Snapshot, a new free tool to help small businesses quickly and easily estimate a company’s carbon footprint and identify recommended actions to shrink it, saving customers money in the process.
Simple idea from Yahoo!. They make green relevant to its consumers through Yahoo! for Good, a campaign that offers tips and resources for going green, and Yahoo! Green, one of the most popular environmental sites on the Web. I’ve seen many hotels take this idea and incorporate it into their own green hotel initiative.
Use Art to Raise Awareness
Here are a few examples of how Yahoo! and eBay raised company awareness.
At Yahoo!, “Chuck the Cup” Day was held at four of their campuses to raise awareness about the environmental impact of using paper cups and highlight the things employees can do to create a more sustainable workplace. The project is the brainchild of Kai Haley, a Yahoo! Green Team member and the “Andy Goldsworthy “ of trash. She calculated how many paper cups are consumed every 15 minutes on Yahoo!’s main campus and created hexagon globes out of thrown away cups.
Along with providing incentives to encourage employees to bring their own mug, Yahoo! put the attention‐getting sculptures that Kai created on their main lawn, each of them representing the number of coffee cups (over 100) used in 15 minutes at their headquarters.
One of eBay’s local Green Teams was determined to phase bottled water out of their office. Prior to installing filters and chillers and removing water bottles from break rooms, they invited employees’ children to participate in a poster contest with the theme “what does water mean to you?” Winning posters were displayed around the office, along with facts and statistics to educate employees on the environmental impact of bottled water production and consumption. The team credits the poster campaign with increasing awareness and support for the project and allowing for a successful transition.
Create a Toolkit to Support and Guide Green Teams
To make it easier for your Green Team (or all your employees), consider cmpling a “Greening Toolkit.” For example, Deloitte’s green program toolkit includes 37 suggested best practices and greening projects, focused on energy consumption, paper consumption, daily product consumption, waste reduction, recycling and travel.
The program is monitored through a “Greening the Dot” Web site, which charts the number of toolkit projects that have been completed, kicking up competition between office locations. In the first six months, over half of the workforce engaged in the implementation of over a thousand greening projects across nearly 100 offices, and reducing energy, water, paper use and travel and increasing recycling.
In the end, they saved resources, reduced waste and realized savings. Everyone won! Being sustainable justmakes economical sense.
Next months newsletter will close this series with: Alighn Green Teams with Corporate Sustainability Goals. Don’t miss it!
Is that possible? Hotel Andaluz in Albuquerque, New Mexico, claims they’ve done just that. Reopening after a $30 million remodel, the Andaluz reduced their water use by 78% with their water savings program.
The Andaluz, which previously existed as the La Posada hotel, was extensively remodeled according to LEED standards. In order to cut water use, the Andaluz developers implemented numerous water and energy saving conservation measures, including:
- “Oxygen-assisted” low-flow shower heads
- Rainwater collection system for irrigation (in process)
- Efficient low-flow toilets
- Solar panels to heat about 60% of the hotel’s hot water (which will cut energy use by 20%)
- Guestroom controls
- Fluorescent and LED lighting
The result, in May 2004 the La Posada used 1.2 million gallons of water. In May 2005, the last year of operation before remodel, La Posada used 730,000 gallons in a month. After remodel, in May 2010, the Andaluz significantly reduced usage to 300,000 gallons of water. Although this is one month, it doesn’t dictate what the new hotel will average through the months to come, especially considering it’s a new hotel. Looking at eight different months of usage over the years, the new hotel averaged 770,000 gallons less than its predecessor La Posada.
Lets put that into perspective. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection estimates a hotel to average around 200 gallons per room per day. Assuming these numbers, Andaluz, in its best month, used 300,000 gallons in a month, which is 10,000 gallons each day – and with 107 rooms and suites, it averages around 93 gallons each day per room. That is better than the low average.
Andaluz took on aggressive green measures, including energy efficiency, in its remodel and operations that the hotel is applying for LEED gold status (it had previously aimed for silver). Once certified, it will be one of the first historically renovated gold LEED hotels in the U.S. -
Visit Green Hotel Directory for more green hotels.