8 Questions to Ask Before Booking a Green Hotelby: BreeShirvell
Is the hotel carbon neutral? If not, does it offer any carbon offsetting programs?More and more hotels are trying to be carbon neutral. USA Today reported that the first US carbon neutral hotel is The Resort at Paws Up in Montana. Other hotels are following close behind, offering programs to offset the carbon emissions for both the hotel room and also the transportation, such as that airplane you took to get to the hotel. Some of these programs are complementary and some are optional for the traveler to buy, but if the hotel doesn’t offer either one you should wonder how green is it.Carbon Emissions from airplane travel. Image courtesy of OZOlife.com.
What is the hotel’s energy efficiency plan?Hotels with an energy efficiency plan that incorporate some combination of energy efficient thermostats, energy efficient appliances, lighting and timers, and even energy efficient heat reflective windows use on average 26 percent less energy than their non-green counterparts, according to aU.S. Green Building Council report. That number will only continue to rise if the hotel uses renewable energy.An energy efficient light bulb. Image courtesy of Hozae.
Does the hotel’s restaurant use regional organically grown and in-season food whenever possible? Hotels that use locally grown in-season food not only support their local economy, but they help to cut down on the carbon emissions associated with food transportation. A simple browse of a hotel’s website or a call to the restaurant should answer these questions, but there are also a number of green restaurant directories including the Green Table Network, the Green Restaurant Association, and the Eat Well Guide that you can look at before booking a hotel. A farm to table breakfast. Image courtesy of Bree Shirvell.
What is the hotel’s water efficiency plan? More and more hotels have the standard re-use your towels program, but what about other tools, such as efficient water usage in the restaurant, low flow shower heads, and rain water collection for outside gardening? The Rainforest Alliance suggests asking what practices the hotel has implemented before booking.A low flow shower head. Image courtesy of One Little Thing.
Do any non-profit organizations or non-governmental organizations recommend the hotel for its environmental policies? Reputable travel organizations, such as the ones pictured on the left, provide guides and recommendations of green hotels as well eco-friendly hotel restaurants.Logos of a few non-profit organizations and non-governmental organizations that recommend green hotels and restaurants. Images courtesy of Eat Well Guide, Sustainable Travel International, Leave No Trace , Rainforest Alliance, Green Restaurant Association, The International Ecotourism Society, U.S. Green Building Council, Green Table.
Is the hotel committed to the local community? The International Ecotourism Society suggests asking for information about what percentage of employees are local citizens and if the hotel supports any projects to benefit the local community.Image courtesy of Ritz-Carlton’s Give Back Getaways, a Ritz-Carlton program where select hotels offer half-day sightseeing tours that double as environmental-conservation and community-outreach trips. Pictured is a hunger and poverty relief program in Washington DC.
What is the hotel’s recycling plan?On average, according to a report published by the U.S. Green Building Council, green hotels send 50 to 75 percent less solid waste to landfills and incinerators than non-green hotels. A landfill in Canada. Image courtesy of D’Arcy Norman.
Is the hotel LEED Certificated? Created by U.S. Green Building Council , LEED Certificated hotels implement a series of a green initiates including water efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions reduction, energy efficiency, and a sensitivity to the environmental impacts of a hotel. About 40 hotels are currently LEED Certificated and another 900 are working towards certification. Before booking a reservation see if a hotel is LEED Certificated by looking the property up in theU.S. Green Building Coucnil’s LEED Projects & Case Studies Directory.The seal placed on LEED Buildings. Image courtesy of U.S. Green Building Council.
Further Reading: Take the Booking a Green Hotel Quiz