Green Hotel Programs Sprout in Five States

NEW YORK, New York, November 9, 2009 (ENS) – Just since Labor Day, greener hotel operations are being stimulated by new programs in five states and one city that have joined the growing movement to environmentally friendly accommodations.

New certifications for green hotels are now available in Indiana, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and the city of Buffalo, New York.

On October 6, the State of Indiana became the first state in the USA to adopt the Green Key Eco-Rating Program as its official statewide environmental initiative for the lodging industry.

The Indiana program will be managed through a partnership between the Indiana Hotel & Lodging Association and Green Key Global. The IHLA will promote the program to lodging properties within the state.

The Green Key Eco-Rating Program expanded its operations to the United States from its Canadian roots on September 21, 2009. The program was originally developed for the Hotel Association of Canada.

The Green Key evaluation is a comprehensive 140-question audit that is self-administered by the staff at the participating property. The answers are tabulated and the property is awarded a ranking of 1 to 5 Keys and a display plaque. The property receives a report with recommendations, best practices and potential areas for improvement and savings. Green Key includes random, on-site verification of audit results.

On September 23, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts committed its portfolio in the United States to becoming members of the Green Key program, and other hotels, too, are signing on.

Lobby of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City (Photo courtesy Hyatt Hotels and Resorts)

“Grand Hyatt New York has been a Green Key member since December and in that time we have been able to improve our environmental management by actively working on recommendations received from the audit,” says Diana Beltran, environmental development manager for Grand Hyatt New York. In September, the Grand Hyatt became one of only three hotels in New York City to be certified as “Green” by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

New York State’s new Green Lodging Certification program combines environmentally sound business practices with financially feasible solutions. Hoteliers focus on saving energy, trimming waste disposal, using water efficiently and conserving resources, while improving their bottom line. Forty-three hotels and inns from across the state are first to sign on.

“The Green Lodging Program recognizes hoteliers’ environmental best practices,” said New York DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis. “Whether they have been incorporating green practices for years or are just starting out, hotels and inns of any size can participate in this program. Technical support and marketing assistance are available to help them. The bottom line is that environmentally sound management practices lead to greater profitability, keeping New York’s businesses competitive and saving jobs.”

Green credentials will be certified by the Audubon GreenLeaf program. Based on environmental performance, a hotel could be assigned one to five green leaves. Candidates are evaluated on energy efficiency, environmental management, pollution prevention and resource conservation.

In late October, the City of Buffalo, New York announced Green & Mean (It), a new green hotels certification program that is part of the Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Green Hospitality Initiative.

The Buffalo hospitality industry will seek to improve in the areas of waste management, energy savings, food production and disposal, water savings, environmentally safe cleaning products, paints, and office practices.

In Maryland, the state Office of Tourism in partnership with the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Maryland Tourism Council has introduced the Maryland Green Travel program.

This program aims to establish an online, self-certification application based on environmental guidelines adopted by the American Hotel and Lodging Association. It will encourage the best practices of the Maryland Department of the Environment’s Green Registry, which is part of the state’s Smart, Green & Growing program.

The Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department took off with a new travel initiative called Encouraging Conservation in Oklahoma, ECO, which promotes, educates and encourages sustainable travel.

“Oklahoma has a legacy of conservation, preservation and innovation – qualities that are fundamental to sustainable travel,” said Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins, who chairs the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Commission. “As stewards of this great state, we are proud to encourage ideas, actions and practices that will sustain us.”

Oklahoma City’s Colcord Hotel (Photo by Erinsy)

Introduced on September 28, Oklahoma’s voluntary ECO certification is a state certification funded and created in partnership with the U.S. EPA and Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality. DEQ’s Oklahoma Star Incentive program has developed materials for the tourism and hospitality sector.

Oklahoma is jumpstarting ECO with seven pilot programs at properties from a range of tourism industry sectors. They include three in Oklahoma City – the Colcord Hotel, the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, and the Science Museum Oklahoma.

The four other pilots are taking place at Keystone State Park in Sand Springs; the Maple Place Bed and Breakfast in Enid; the Polo Grill in Tulsa; and the Oklahoma Tourism Information Center in Blackwell.

In South Carolina, the Green Hospitality Alliance was announced in mid-October.

The new program designed to help hotels, motels, restaurants and other hospitality facilities go green is a project of the Department of Health and Environmental Control and the South Carolina Hospitality Association.

To be a member of the South Carolina Green Hospitality Alliance, hotels and restaurants must complete an audit of their property’s compliance with “eco-initiatives” including energy efficiency, water conservation, recycling, environmentally safe cleaning, reduction of waste, ongoing maintenance and purchasing habits.

Properties are rated based on their compliance with these Eco-initiatives, from a single Palmetto Tree to three Palmetto Trees. The Alliance says dozens of South Carolina hotels are in the certification process. Eight charter hotel properties have now been certified.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2009. All rights reserved.