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Green Hotel: Hotel Standards to Support Sustainable Tourism

A Green Hotel is a hotel committed to promoting sustainability and helping to protect the environment through eco-friendly and eco-friendly practices. The flexible phrase, “eco-friendly hotels,” can describe chain hotels, motels, inns, resorts, B&Bs and other lodging partners. As long as your property is committed to reducing the impact of travel and tourism on the environment, you can become an eco-friendly hotel.  


In this post, we'll take a closer look at what being green really means. We'll explore how eco-friendly hotels provide quality amenities, the best customer service, and the best accommodations—while limiting their environmental impact. From water waste reduction initiatives to energy-efficient architecture, you'll uncover real green initiatives that can help make your property more sustainable.


Why should your hotel become eco-friendly (if it hasn't already)?

If your hotel isn't already committed to eco-friendly initiatives, here are three reasons why you should:


1. We must reduce the environmental impact of hotels


From overconsumption to habitat loss, many sectors of the travel, tourism and the hospitality industry are significantly damaging the environment. Soil erosion, pollution and increased pressure on endangered species are just a few examples of the negative impacts that hotels can have on the natural environment.


A recent report from CBRE Group shows that hotels have a very high CO2 rating—96. With similar industries averaging 80 on the same scale, green hotel initiatives should be at the forefront of every industry professional's mind.


2. Modern consumers want sustainable solutions


The number of eco-minded travelers is increasing, and hotels that want to remain competitive must follow suit. In 2022, 78% of Statista survey respondents expressed their intention to stay in an eco-friendly location at least once in the coming year, with 81% of travelers citing the importance of eco-friendly travel.


Given rising consumer concerns about climate change and the impact of travel and tourism on the planet, more consumers are turning to eco-friendly hotels than ever before. Additionally, tourists are looking for destinations that help them avoid natural disasters, such as hurricanes, floods and rising temperatures. Sustainability influences which destinations tourists visit, when they plan their trips, and what they can do while in those destinations.


3. Sustainability is profitable


The demand for sustainable, environmentally conscious and ethically responsible travel is increasing, with the global sustainable tourism industry worth $181.1 billion (sustainable tourism statistics by Avantio). Hotels that fail to adapt to green business models and more sustainable practices risk losing more loyal customers; they risk losing their position as a reliable player in the local market.


Are all eco-friendly hotels the same?

Also called eco-friendly hotels and sustainable properties, “eco-friendly hotels” can refer to different types of hotels. Some properties, such as Three Camel Lodge in Mongolia, were built with the goal of promoting a luxury, eco-friendly travel philosophy. The lodge's remote location allowed property engineers to create a self-sustaining waste management system that supports the brand's mission to reduce, reuse and recycle.


Eco-friendly hotels strive to minimize their impact on the surrounding environment and global pollution levels. Eco-friendly accommodation increases energy efficiency, reduces waste and improves guest and staff well-being through a variety of initiatives, which may begin with the construction of the hotel and continue in everyday practice. Standard eco-friendly hotel practices include:


  • Design new properties using environmentally friendly or recycled materials

  • Operate smoke-free facilities

  • Install smart thermostats and smart lighting

  • Use non-toxic household products

  • Go paperless (e.g. electronic billing)

  • Buy organic linens, towels and mattresses

  • Invest in renewable energy resources, such as wind and solar panels

  • Reduce hotel waste

  • Promote less consumption (for example, reusing towels or refilling water bottles)

How to become a better eco-friendly hotel

Regardless of size or level of service, there are many different ways your hotel can become more environmentally friendly. Become a more sustainable lodging partner by:


Design environmentally friendly facilities: If you are planning a new build, look for an architect with green design expertise. Work with them to develop a design built with reusable building materials or get help to reduce the hotel's impact on the surrounding environment. Discuss the future; for example, you may want to consider installing a charging station in the parking lot to cater to guests with electric vehicles.


Invest in environmentally friendly equipment: Determine how much capital you should invest in more environmentally friendly guest room fixtures, such as low-flow faucets, self-setting shower timers, shampoo dispensers, or smart lighting units. Expanding smart lighting technology throughout the hotel, programming innovative systems to adjust lighting levels based on the time of day. Motion detection lighting can reduce operational costs in hotel facilities that are not open 24-7. Use motion-based or timed lighting in hotel fitness centers to reduce energy use while supporting guest safety when facilities are closed.


Focus on waste management: Start making your hotel a greener space now by reducing waste. Create a hotel recycling program. Install clearly labeled and easily accessible recycling bins throughout the hotel, and look for creative ways to limit the amount of product distributed by the property. Consider placing several copies of popular newspapers in common hotel areas rather than sending one to each room every day.


Stay ahead of local, city, and state regulations: Many locations, such as New York City (NYC), prohibit single-use toiletries in places such as hotels. When the law goes into effect in 2025, it could eliminate the use of more than 27 million single-use toiletry bottles in NYC, but residents who don't comply with the law could face stiff penalties. Stay abreast of changes and potential changes in local, county, and state regulations.


Follow eco-industry news: Subscribe to an eco-friendly hotel blog, magazine or newsletter to get the latest information about eco-friendly hotels. In an increasingly competitive industry, staying ahead means staying in business.

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