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Published June 30, 2008 08:18 AM

The Greening of the Hotel Industry

Going ‘green’ is more than a mere fad in the hotel industry. The San Francisco based Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants began implementing environmental initiatives in 1985. Twenty years later Kimpton created EarthCare, which has over 40 eco-friendly practices, including energy and water conservation. In 2006 Kimpton earned the National GeoTourism Award given by National Geographic Traveler and the Travel Industry Association of America. The state of California acknowledged Kimpton’s efforts.

“Supporting a sustainable world has long been a core, guiding principle behind our business practices,” said Niki Leondakis, chief operating officer of Kimpton. “As environmental awareness is increasingly spreading throughout the country, this award acknowledges the many ways that organizations have the power to impact change for the future of our planet.”


Canadian based Fairmont Hotels & Resorts created the Fairmont Green Partnership in 1990 which partners with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Program, and the World Heritage Alliance, a joint initiative of Expedia, Inc. and the United Nations Foundation. The Green Partnership encourages its hotels to reduce waste, and implement water and energy saving practices. The Hotel chain won an award for having the Best Corporate Social Responsibility Program on November 9, 2006 during the annual Hospitality Awards ceremony in Paris, France.

Green Hotels Association (GHA) brings hotels together who are interested in becoming environmentally friendly. The three main tenets of the Association are saving water, saving energy, and reducing solid waste while saving money. Hotels that are part of the Association do a myriad of little and big things to meet the goals, including adding signs that say “Drinking water served on request only” to the hotels’ restaurant menus, offering towel rack hangers and sheeting changing cards asking guests to consider using bed linens more than one time.

GHA defines green hotels as ones that are “environmentally-friendly properties whose managers are eager to institute programs that save water, save energy and reduce solid waste--while saving money.”

GHA claims those steps alone save hotels five percent on utilities, and at least 70% of all guests are estimated to participate. The Association produces a catalog of environmental products for hotels.

San Francisco’s Orchard Garden Hotel earned a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification in June 2007 for building to the standards developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. Featuring a guestroom key card energy control system, the hotel has an in-room recycling system, uses chemical-free cleaning products, and fluorescent light bulbs.

The 1909 Nob Hill building of San Francisco’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel has its own power system in order to generate some of its own electricity. The system, called PureComfort 240, emits 90% less nitrogen oxide than the old system, and generates about a quarter of the hotel’s power supply.

The Starwood Capitol group will launch the eco-friendly 1 Hotel and Residences. The hotels will be built to the U.S. Green Building Council’s standards, and each hotel will donate one percent of its revenue to local environmental groups. Starwood Capital will open its first hotel in Seattle towards the end of the year. Hotels will be built in Mammoth, CA; Scottsdale, AZ; Ft. Lauderdale, FL; and Paris, France. Within two years Starwood plans to build hotels in Washington, D.C., New York, and Los Angeles.

The large chain, Marriot Hotels is committed to reducing fuel and water use by 25 percent over the next ten years, installing solar energy at up to 40 of its hotels by 2017, and expanding its “reduce, reuse, recycle” programs. The New York Marriot Downtown built a microturbine farm that helps power the 500 room hotel. It is estimated that the system will keep 1,700 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, and 10 tons of nitrogen oxide.

“We are thrilled to introduce this new technology at the New York Marriott Downtown,” says Ed Walter, President and Chief Executive Officer of Host Hotels & Resorts, Inc., the hotel’s owner. “This system has a proven track record of reliability and efficiency. It demonstrates our ability and interest in conserving energy and protecting the environment, while also generating a significant return on our investment.”

Florida Green Lodging Program, launched in 2004 by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), requires hotels to implement certain practices in order to become members. The required practices hotels must implement are water conservation through low flow pluming and a linen reuse program, using Energy Star appliances and programmable thermostats to conserve energy, and recycling to reduce waste. Over 200 Florida hotels are members.

"With almost 50 percent of Florida’s visitors staying in hotels, the lodging industry plays an important role in protecting our environment. By reducing water use, conserving energy, improving air quality and decreasing solid waste, hotel guests contribute to state efforts to protect, restore and conserve Florida’s natural resources," DEP Secretary Michael W. Sole.

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