They are certainly not all uniform and some are managed better than others but the number of state level green lodging programs is growing. Participation in the programs is also increasing. There are now at least 16 states that have some type of green lodging program.
The Missouri Hotel and Lodging Assn. just launched a program in that state and in New York more than 10 state organizations are currently working together as part of the New York State Governor's Initiative: Green Hospitality Partnership to put together a program.
Through online research and interviews with officials, Green Lodging News was able to get an update on the status of each of the 16 states' green lodging programs. There are more than 1,200 properties actively participating in state programs and approximately 500 applying to participate. The following is a summary from each state. Please be sure to visit each respective state's website for complete details. A link to a page that includes links to each state program is included at the end of this article.
The California Green Lodging Program, established by the California Integrated Waste Management Board, is run by the Department of General Services as part of the State Travel program. There are currently 139 properties participating. Interested hotel operators are asked to complete a hotel survey that asks for basic information and then a more detailed survey form. Facilities that qualify for the program are rated at one of two levels: Participation Level and Leadership Level. The rating is based on a scoring system. Marketing materials are available to properties reaching the two levels.
Pollution Prevention Emphasized
The Delaware Green Lodging program is a joint initiative of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the Delaware Hotel & Lodging Assn. to promote pollution prevention practices. To join the program, hotels are required to complete a Pollution Prevention Practices Checklist. Once that is completed, participants are sent a welcome packet that includes a certificate and window decals to display. There are currently seven hotels participating.
The Florida Green Lodging Program is run by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. It is unique in that it covers an all-inclusive list of environmental initiatives that are specific to Florida's environment. As of January 9, there were 393 designated properties and 420 applicants. After making a commitment to the program, participants go through a self-assessment process and implement the required steps for designation as a Green Lodging member. An on-site assessment is then conducted. First-time participants can earn a One Palm designation. Each year, after making additional improvements, hoteliers can earn the Two Palm or Three Palm designation.
In Georgia, hotel owners and operators can participate in the Partnership for a Sustainable Georgia, a Pollution Prevention Assistance Division program. There are two participation tracks: EMS Track for those interested in pursuing a traditional ISO-14001-based approach to developing an EMS for their facilities, and Sustainable Office Toolkit Track for any organization interested in recycling, energy and water conservation, and green building. Participants can reach Champion and Bronze levels or Silver and Gold levels. On-site assistance is available to participants. The Partnership for a Sustainable Georgia requires Bronze, Silver, and Gold Partners to be open to site visits during participation in the program. Partnership staff will randomly pick several Partner facilities during the year for verification visits. There are currently nine Partners in lodging.
Aloha State Includes On-site Inspection
In Hawaii, hoteliers can participate in a Green Business Program run by the state's Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism. To be considered a Green Business, a hotel must complete an application and make the necessary changes detailed in the application-practices such as using low-flow toilets or compact fluorescents, for example. After the improvements have been made, participants must undergo a site inspection.
Maine offers an Environmental Leader Certification program. There are currently 93 properties that have earned the certification. Participants are asked to complete a self-certification workbook. Once the workbook has been completed, it is sent to the Department of Environmental Protection's Pollution Prevention Program Manager for scoring. If a business scores 100 points, it qualifies for automatic certification from the state for two years. If a business scores less than 100 points, it can achieve a provisional certification provided it accumulates the remainder of the points within an agreed upon time frame. Participants are selected for random audits and provided with numerous marketing-related benefits. Maine's program emphasizes progress measurement. 'We are interested in exactly how much impact has been reduced,' says Peter Cooke, Pollution Prevention Program Manager.
In Michigan, that state's Energy Office and Department of Environmental Quality run the Green Lodging Michigan program. After submitting an application and going through a self-assessment process, properties may earn the status of Green Lodging Partner, Green Lodging Steward, or Green Lodging 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 a specific amount of points. They also are contingent to on-site verification. Certification is valid for three years. To become recertified, a facility must resubmit a self-assessment checklist after the three-year period. There are currently 44 certified properties (30 were added in 2008) and 24 applicants.
Missouri Just Launched Program
Missouri's Green Lodging Certification is a pilot project of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that is conducted in cooperation with the Missouri Hotel & Lodging Assn. to recognize those lodgings that go beyond existing state and federal regulations to ensure that their operations have a minimal environmental impact on their local communities. Each participating lodging business completes an online application and provides information about its operation. DNR program staff review answers and calculate the facility's score. Those attaining a score of 100 or above will be certified. Environmental auditors from the DNR's regional offices will make prearranged on-site visits to confirm specific aspects of the original self-certification. During the ensuing two years, each facility will be required to attain a score of 130 points in order for the certification to be extended for another two years. Missouri just launched its program.
The New Hampshire Sustainable Lodging & Restaurant Program (NHSLRP) currently has 75 members. Properties can participate at three levels: Endorsing Partner, Environmental Partner, or Environmental Champion. Endorsing partners must carry out one initiative in each of the program's focus areas, Environmental Partners must carry out two. Environmental Champions undergo an on-site audit by a third party or by NHSLRP staff. NHSLRP intends to transition to a more metrics-based program-similar to Maine's-in 2009. NHSLRP and the New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Assn. are currently planning the first New England Hospitality Eco-Expo. It will be held in Nashua, N.H., on April 14.
In North Carolina, the Green Plan for Hotels is an initiative from the North Carolina Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance (DPPEA) to hospitality and lodging properties. The initiative targets waste reduction, recycling, energy and water conservation. DPPEA provides educational information to lodging properties and on-site assessments to help identify waste reduction, recycling, energy and water efficiency opportunities. In 2009, DPPEA will be partnering with The Center for Sustainable Tourism at Eastern Carolina University to develop new training materials for hotels.
Inns Targeted in Oregon
The Oregon Bed and Breakfast Guild has a Green Inspection Program. Inns can participate at up to three levels and earn from one leaf to three leaves for their efforts in making operational changes, mechanical upgrades, and building practice improvements.
In Pennsylvania, the state's Department of Environmental Protection makes resources available to hotels to help them reduce waste, save energy and water, and improve indoor air quality. The organization's website lists 23 'green' hotels.
Rhode Island has its own Green Certification program. The program was put together by the state's Department of Environmental Management (DEM), the Rhode Island Hospitality and Tourism Assn., Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau, and several other organizations. The program is run by DEM and mirrors Maine's certification program. The program currently has 19 hotels and 14 restaurants participating. DEM is currently planning a workshop on Feb. 5 to help generate more interest in the program.
Green Hotels in Green Mountain State
Vermont's Green Hotels in the Green Mountain State program is part of the Vermont Business Environmental Partnership. Properties can participate as an Environmental Partner or as a Green Hotel in the Green Mountain State. Of the 90 hotels currently participating, 85 are Green Hotels and five are Partners. To be designated an Environmental Partner, a property must adopt a set of core environmental standards using new and existing initiatives. 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 stewardship. Each property seeking to achieve designation as a Green Hotel commits to meeting additional standards, by creating an environmental management plan.
Virginia Green is that state's program that works to reduce the environmental impacts of Virginia's tourism Industry. It is run as a partnership between the Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Tourism Corp. and the Virginia Hospitality and Tourism Assn. Virginia Green Lodging is a self-certifying program where facilities must verify they are at least practicing the Virginia Green Lodging 'core activities.' Participants in the program receive numerous marketing-related benefits. There are currently almost 230 participants.
Travel Green Wisconsin (TGW) is a voluntary program that reviews, certifies and recognizes tourism businesses and organizations that have made a commitment to reducing their environmental impact. Specifically, the program encourages participants to evaluate their operations, set goals and take specific actions towards environmental, social, and economic sustainability. TGW is an initiative of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and the Wisconsin Environmental Initiative. TGW is a voluntary self-certifying sustainable tourism program. To earn certification, applicants must first supply the Wisconsin Environmental Initiative with a Baseline Environmental Performance Assessment. The baseline collects information about the amount of energy, fuel, water, and solid waste that the business consumed during the last calendar year. Next, the applicants must commit to enough sustainable business practices found within the TGW checklist to accumulate 30 or more points. There are currently 90 lodging participants.
For links to the various state programs, click here. If you are aware of any other state program efforts, please contact me at the e-mail address below.
This article first appeared on the Green Lodging News website. To sign up to receive the weekly Green Lodging News newsletter, go to www.greenlodgingnews.com. Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.