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The benefits of going green (part 2): Q&A with our Director of Responsible Travel

Previously: The benefits of going green (part 1), including background on Jenny Rushmore and our GreenLeaders program for hoteliers.

Welcome back, Jenny! Do you have eco-friendly tips for hoteliers?
As TripAdvisor’s Director of Responsible Travel, the 3 key things I’ve heard from hoteliers in the GreenLeaders program are to prioritize, measure and communicate.

  1. Prioritize: Start by focusing on your biggest environmental impacts, and then look for how you can make the most significant impact with your budget. For instance, heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) and lighting are often the largest energy users. So go for an easy win and save energy and money by replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, setting your thermostat to 72F, and changing your HVAC system air filters at regular intervals.
  2. Measure: As with occupancy rate or other key metrics for your property, you want to know where you stand with going green. That’s why you need to calculate your current environmental impact, set goals and track your progress. You don’t have to take this on alone, either. I recommend free and easy tools like ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager to help you track and analyze your energy and water usage, and even calculate your energy-related carbon footprint. There is also the EPA’s WasteWise RE-Trac program, which helps you track your waste.
  3. Communicate: First, make sure your staff knows what environmentally-friendly practices you have in place, and what their role is in implementing them. For instance, the housekeeping staff needs to be regularly briefed on your linen and towel re-use policies. Second, let your guests know! Often, hoteliers I talk with are only green “behind the scenes,” and that’s a missed opportunity. Not only can you help educate and impress travelers with what your hotel is doing, you can also give guests inspiration for how they can be greener at home.

What are some of the challenges hotels are facing in going green? 

Jenny Rushmore, Director of Responsible Travel
Jenny Rushmore, Director of Responsible Travel

I understand that the bottom line is always important, so I always suggest looking at how you can make the biggest environmental impact with your budget. Programs that save money and are green are particularly good – for instance, using energy efficient appliances. If you find it’s hard to justify the upfront cost, take a look at subsidies and credits that are available in many states. You can find details at the US Department of Energy “Tax Credits, Rebates & Savings” database.

What is the most innovative, interesting hotel green practice you’ve come across?
There are so many it’s hard to pick just one! The Crash Pad in Chattanooga, TN has “green” walls and roofing that are covered in plants, which looks great, provides insulation and manages rainwater. The Lenox Hotel in Boston, MA has electric car charging stations for guests who arrive in electric vehicles. Maple Hill Farm in Maine, Creekside Inn in California and Valley of the Gods B&B in Utah all have wind turbines, and there are solar panels at properties including Bardessono in California, Chanticleer Vineyard B&B in California and Williams Pond Lodge in Maine.

On a lighter note, what was your favorite vacation?
My favorite vacation spot is Japan – I love the food, architecture, culture, and of course the environmentally-friendly design!

To apply or learn more about the GreenLeaders program, visit green.tripadvisor.com.

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