With widespread reports on global warming, smart hoteliers have become more thoughtful about the use of energy and water at their properties. They've also found ways to reduce waste and toxic materials.
These days at the very least hotels and resorts give guests the option of using their towels more than once. Some hotels go far beyond that to conserve resources, reduce waste and avoid toxic products.
Are You Being Green Washed?
Green certification programs have proliferated as the hospitality industry has sought to jump on the green bandwagon. There are dozens of them. While some of the programs have strict guidelines and independent audit practices, others rely on a honor system and rubber stamp the hotel's self evaluation.
So how can you tell if your hotel is green or is just trying to green wash you? A major indicator is the type of certification program the hotel uses. Hotels with high standards opt for programs that require an audit and are associated with a respected agency.
Many good state and local programs have been established. For example, the Florida Green Lodging Certificate Program was created by the state Department of Environmental Protection to recognize truly environmentally conscious properties in Florida.
A Green Guide
Listed below are some of the most respected national and international certification programs.
This U.S. Environmental Protection Agency program rates energy efficiency not only in our homes but also in hotels. Environmentally conscious hotels score at least 75 or higher out of 100.
The U.S. Green Building Council certifies hotels and resorts that meet with its energy-efficiency and conservation standards. Relatively few properties have sought this designation, so those that do tend to be environmental standouts.
This North American association is associated with Audubon International. While it's primarily used in Canada, it's expanding into the United States. Thailand's Green Leaf program is not affiliated with this organization.
The organization is respected for its stringent standards based on the 1992 United Nations Earth summit. It primarily certifies properties in Australia, New Zealand and Asia but has begun expanding it the Caribbean and other destinations.
Sustainable Tourism Certification Network of the Americas
The Rainforest Alliance and the International Ecotourism Society have collaborated on this evolving program that encourages higher environmental standards in the Caribbean and Latin America.