What Makes a Green Hotel … Green?

Mar 15, 2011 11:00 AM ET

Green Path Guide

I was reminded of this issue when I visited yet another hotel where I found the customer notice, “Help Save Water, Help Save the World.”  Essentially, it instructed the guests to throw used towels on the floor so that not all towels need to be laundered.  Other times we are told to not request bed linen changes every day.  Neither request is a problem for me, so I accept the challenge to be a Greener tourist or business traveler.   Then I walked out of the room to find the service cart holding a non-HEPA vacuum, the cleaning fluids with health warnings on the label, and the paper products that were not recycled.  I also noted that the plastic water bottles in my room that are single use bottles instead of the biodegradable kind. As a skilled observer and frequent traveler, I’ve seen little use of electric saving devices or lights.  Waste is not managed, and hotels tend to simply throw out old furniture and equipment faster than other businesses.   Yet, I note that several of these hotels want their customers to know that they are Green hotels.  That passes for hotel humor, I guess.  Frankly, knowing what I do from the Green Path system, I am generally very disappointed in most hotels, but there are a few exceptions like the Caribe Hilton in Puerto Rico that has gone Green in big ways.   The worst example that I ever came across was a well-publicized hotel shuttle service serving hotel guests out of the Chicago O’Hare airport.  They even proclaim their Green shuttle on their billboards.  When I asked why this conventional, diesel-powered bus was Green; the driver shrugged his shoulders and could not answer the question.  Not even the desk clerk could tell me why the shuttle was Green.  I decided to figure it out on my own, so I asked more questions.   Well, it came down to this.  Several hotels within a half-mile range of each other had pooled together to use the same shuttle and that pooled effort made the shuttle “Green”!  Kudos for the idea, but it still demonstrates how little these hotels really know about a Green or sustainable program. The picture used for this article has a hotel “Painted Green,” and it calls itself “The Green Hotel.”

Let me suggest that hotels use the free software from the Green Path Assessment program.  During the sign-up, enter “Hotel” as your industry type.  You will find that a unique set of hotel-related, Green improvements.  They are all very effective and many of them are money savers.  Work the system until you have enough points for certification, and then request that an auditor review your work.  You can then tell the world that your hotel is Green, and every reason that the public will have confidence to believe your environmental boasts.


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