Travel > Hotels

Hotel operations have a variety of impacts on the environment, but there are many initiatives that can reduce their impacts while also saving money.

For listings of environmentally preferable hotels, visit the Green Hotel Association and Green Seal’s list of green hotels. For a list of LEED-certified hotels, visit USGBC’s LEED Hotels Listings. Also consider contacting your organization’s current hotels to inquire about their environmental practices.

Green hotel specifications

Features to consider when selecting greener hotels include:

  • Towel and linen reuse options
  • Recycling opportunities for plastic, glass, metal, and paper in guest rooms, common areas, and conference rooms
  • Energy-efficient lights and appliances in rooms
  • Tissue products made from post-consumer recycled content
  • Local and organic food
  • Cleaning staff trained to follow environmental policy and procedures
  • Water-conserving showers, sinks, and toilets
  • Proximity to public transit or alternative transportation methods
  • Fuel-efficient transportation available for guests and staff (e.g, shuttle service)
  • Fuel-efficient grounds vehicles
  • Less toxic cleaning and laundry products
  • Food and beverage service uses reusable cutlery and napkins
  • Drinkable tap water
  • Bulk dispensers for amenities

Green Hotels and Convention Centers

The Orchard Garden Hotel in downtown San Francisco received LEED certification in 2007. Some of the hotel’s green features include:

  • More than 80% of all regularly occupied spaces are daylit, reducing the need for electric lighting
  • High levels of insulation reduce sound transmission between rooms while improving energy efficiency
  • Bins are included in each room and common spaces for recycling
  • One of the hotel’s most innovative features is its key card, which functions as an energy management system. Guests insert the key card into a box near the door to activate their lighting and mechanical systems in the room. When guests leave the room, they remove the card and turn off all systems except for one outlet to charge laptops or cellphones. This system alone reduces energy costs by 20%.

The Fairmont Pittsburgh received LEED Gold certification for its construction in 2010. Among its sustainable practices and features include:

  • Regionally sourced and recycled content building materials.
  • Diversion of 99% of construction waste for recycling or reuse.
  • Energy-efficient lighting installations, which are expected to reduce energy use by 75MW annually.
  • Low-flow toilets and water-efficient fixtures, which are projected to save 930,000 gallons of water annually.
  • Low-VOC paints and carpeting with no added urea formaldehyde.
  • FSC-certified wood flooring and millwork.
  • Sustainable food options sourced from local and organic ingredients.
  • A comprehensive recycling program in all guest rooms.

The Vancouver Convention Centre received LEED Platinum certification in 2010, the first convention center in the world to receive this certification. The facility’s sustainable practices and features include:

  • A six acre green roof, the largest green roof in Canada and the largest non-industrial green roof in North America.
  • A sophisticated drainage and water recovery system, which has successfully reduced potable water use by 72.6%.
  • Diverted 83% of construction waste from landfills for recycling and reuse.
  • An extensive facility-wide recycling program that recycles nearly half of all waste generated.
  • Purchase of “green power” electricity generated from low-impact renewable sources.
  • A restored marine habitat built into the foundation of the building.
  • A seawater heating and cooling system that takes advantage of the adjacent seawater to produce cooling for the building during warmer months and heating in cooler months.
  • Natural light and ventilation maximized throughout the building.

The Marriott Courtyard Chevy Chase in Maryland received LEED Gold certification in 2009. Marriott plans to use this as a green prototype design to pre-register future constructions through the LEED Volume program. The hotel chain, which already has 50 properties certified or registered for LEED certification, has announced plans to operate 300 LEED-certified properties by 2015. Green efforts at the Courtyard Chevy Chase include:

  • 100% of electricity needs provided by wind energy.
  • High energy efficiency and water conservation efforts.
  • Downtown location in close proximity to public transit options.
  • Bicycles available for guest use.
  • Bus service readily available.
  • Bicycle racks and preferred parking for hybrid vehicles.
  • Guest recycling center.
  • Solar powered trash compactors.
  • Zero VOC paints, low VOC carpets.
  • Biodegradable cleaning products.

Sample letter to current hotels

Dear _______,

[Our Organization] has initiated an effort to improve our environmental performance in all aspects of our operations. We would like to meet with you to discuss our objectives in more detail.

As we pursue efforts to improve our environmental performance, we would like to minimize as much as possible the environmental impacts associated with our organization’s accommodation at away games. We are particularly interested in the items listed below, and would like to discuss which of these initiatives you have already implemented:

    • Energy efficiency initiatives
    • Towel and linen reuse options
    • Recycling opportunities in rooms
    • Tissue products made from postconsumer recycled content
    • Cleaning staff trained to follow environmental policy and procedures
    • Water-conserving showers, sinks, and toilets
    • Use of less toxic cleaning and laundry products
    • Drinkable tap water

Please call me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss these issues in more detail.

Additional Resources

LEED Green Venue Selection Guide
Ceres Green Hotel Initiative
Ceres Green Hotel Request Card
Green Key Eco-Rating Program
GreenBuilding: Hotels Best Practices Guide
Green Hotel Association list of green hotels
Green Seal Hotel Certification
US Green Building Council: Practical Strategies in Green Building – Hotels