Who Wears Green Best

Truth be told, going green is the it thing right now. Most everyone is doing it, if only in policy and not in action. I was interested to see, though, how some of the major hotel brands are reacting and was delighted to learn that, on many fronts, some brands were even innovating.

Green Hotel RoomStarwood’s Element Hotels are mandated to adhere to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, but that’s only the beginning of their green efforts. With electric vehicle charging stations, all-saline pools, carpet made of 100% recycled content, and recycling bins in both guest rooms and public areas, eco-travelers are sure to be flocking once they are more widespread. Only four are open so far.

The InterContinental Hotel Group is promoting their new tool called, “Green Engage,” that is being used as the means to measure their hotel’s carbon footprint and offer suggestions on areas of improvement. They also recently opened their new global headquarters, reusing or recycling 91% of all waste in the process.

The two giants in a world evolving

Two chains stand out above the rest for their leaps and bounds toward sustainability. Marriott takes an ambitious stance to create eco-friendly hotels through their environmental strategy.

  • Why they stand out: They have committed $2 million toward protecting rainforests to offset their carbon emissions, and guests can participate too!
  • Approximately 275 of their hotels have earned the ENERGY STAR label from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—the most of any hotel company, and The Inn & Conference Center by Marriott at the University of Maryland was the first LEED-certified hotel in the country.
  • EcoEvents: This program provides planners the inspiration and resources to create the most eco-friendly meeting possible.
  • Impressive Initiative: Marriott’s new data center is 220 feet below ground in a former limestone mine, allowing for cooling costs to be cut in half.

Fairmont Hotels has a very comprehensive Green Partnership Program that covers all the standard bases of conservation, waste management and responsible purchasing.

  • Why they stand out: They have adopted the ENERGY STAR rating system for all of their U.S. properties, meaning they measure, track and benchmark the individual property performances against similar U.S. property types.
  • Eco-Meet: Similar to Marriott’s EcoEvents, their program revolves around minimizing the effect meetings have on the environment.
  • What I love about their web site: They give specific ways in which standards are being implemented. “The hotel installed a commercial water softener that reduced water use in the laundry to one wash and one rinse per cycle, saving 476,000 liters of water per day—enough water to supply 500 homes!”
  • First to the Fork: Fairmont Hotels are the first hotel company to formally commit to using locally sourced and organically grown products whenever possible. I ask you, who doesn’t want to taste local, fresh cuisine?
  • Partner Up: Fairmont is a member of the World Heritage Alliance (along with Expedia, to promote sustainable tourism), and the Green Meetings Industry Council.

I have to say that I was quite impressed with most of the major chains and their (at least proclaimed) efforts toward sustainability. I hope the bar is continually raised and met with enthusiasm. Please feel free to comment on your positive or negative experiences, or if you have questions on any of the content.

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