Almost a year ago, Green Lodging News updated its readers on the progress states have made in creating and supporting green lodging efforts. Today, at least eight states have one form of program or another.
Almost a year ago, Green Lodging News updated its readers on the progress states have made in creating and supporting green lodging efforts. At that time, it identified seven states with active green lodging programs. Today, at least eight states have one form of program or another. Each program is unique in its own way. These initiatives have become increasingly important over the past year; Florida’s governor, for example, will require his state’s employees to stay at Green Lodging Program hotels beginning January 1, 2008.
Here is a state-by-state summary of green lodging programs:
California—This state’s Green Lodging Program is run by the California Integrated Waste Management Board. Participants are asked to complete a one-page form that asks questions such as: Does your property use individually packaged amenities? Are programmable on/off timers/sensors used for lighting in low traffic/low occupancy areas? Hotels are determined to be Participants or Leaders based on their survey answers. Properties are inspected by a Waste Management Board representative. There are currently approximately 100 participants.
Florida—The Sunshine State’s Green Lodging Program is an effort by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to encourage the lodging industry to conserve and protect Florida’s natural resources. According to Chris Cate, spokesman for Florida’s DEP, the program currently has 25 certified properties, with another 46 applications in process. Participants must complete an application and commit to establishing baselines for environmental improvement. Once green initiatives are in place, applicants must undergo an on-site audit. Certified hotels must demonstrate ongoing progress from year to year to stay in the program.
Maine—In Maine, the Green Lodging Certification Program is managed by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. Participants commit to using environmentally preferable cleaners, reducing waste, and minimizing energy and water consumption. They benefit from free, ongoing technical assistance from the Maine DEP. Applicants must complete a self-certification workbook. Businesses scoring 100 points in the workbook receive certification for two years. Participants must show improvement to continue in the program. Businesses are randomly selected for audits. Maine’s program, according to its website, currently has 52 participants—up from 20 last November.
Michigan—Green Lodging Michigan is a joint program of Michigan’s Energy Office and the Department of Environmental Quality. It encourages hotels, resorts, motels and bed and breakfast facilities to conserve energy, reduce water consumption, protect air quality, reduce waste and participate in environmentally friendly purchasing. There are three levels of participation: Partner, Steward and Leader. The Partner level is reliant on a self-assessment and achieving a set of minimum requirements. The Steward and Leader levels must satisfy the minimum requirements and also accumulate a specific number of points. Applicants for those two levels must undergo on-site visits. According to an Energy Office spokesman, there are currently eight certified participants and seven properties seeking certification.
New Hampshire—The New Hampshire Sustainable Lodging & Restaurant Program (NHSLRP) “strives to encourage lodging and restaurant facilities throughout the state to continually evaluate operations for more environmentally sustainable means of pampering guests while protecting the place that both we and our guests love.” NHSLRP offers three levels of participation: Endorsing Partner, Environmental Partner, and Environmental Champion. Each level requires a different commitment in focus areas including energy efficiency, water conservation, waste and hazardous waste reduction, and education. Those hotels seeking Environmental Champion status must undergo an on-site audit. There are currently 30 lodging establishments that have been certified by NHSLRP.
Vermont—Green Hotels in the Green Mountain State is part of the Vermont Business Environmental Partnership, a larger public-private partnership program. Properties can participate in the program on two levels: as an Environmental Partner, or as a Green Hotel in the Green Mountain State. To be designated an Environmental Partner, a property must adopt a set of core environmental standards and a total of six elective standards. Once Environmental Partner status is attained, those wishing even greater recognition can strive to have their properties designated as a Green Hotel in the Green Mountain State. Green Hotel designation reflects a commitment to pollution prevention and exemplary environmental management. Each property seeking to achieve designation as a Green Hotel commits to meeting additional standards. Participants in Vermont’s program complete application forms but no on-site visits are conducted. Fifty-seven properties currently participate.
Virginia—The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) runs Virginia Green Lodging as part of the state’s overall Virginia Green program. The DEQ requires hospitality participants to join in “Core Activities” such as optional linen service, recycling, water conservation, energy conservation, and green meeting planning. The voluntary program is self-policing with no on-site audits. Fifteen facilities have been certified as Virginia Green Lodging facilities.
Wisconsin—This state’s Travel Green Wisconsin program reviews, certifies and recognizes tourism businesses that have made a commitment to continuously improve their operations in order to reduce their environmental and social impact. To qualify for certification in the program run by the Wisconsin Environmental Initiative, applicants must score 30 points in areas such as waste reduction, energy efficiency, air quality, wildlife and landscape conservation, and purchasing. Applicants report data such as annual water consumption in order to establish baselines for improvement. No on-site visits are conducted. Forty-four lodging properties have been certified green by Travel Green Wisconsin.
Pennsylvania does not have a formal green lodging certification program but its Department of Environmental Protection does make resources available online for those hoteliers interested in greening operations. The Pennsylvania Green Hotels & Motels website includes a page that lists Green Seal-certified properties in Pennsylvania.
In North Carolina, the Green Plan for Hotels is an initiative of the North Carolina Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance (DPPEA). It encourages lodging operators to reduce waste, water and energy consumption, and to offer recycling. Participants can join a Green Hotels Listserv to share information about sustainable lodging. The DPPEA provides free, on-site assistance to those interested in greening operations.