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Green Hotels
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by Sarah Howell

If you’re enthusiastic about being eco-friendly at home, you’ll be happy to learn that many hotels are now adopting the trend as well. But just how successful are the green hotels compared to those who have no eco-friendly modifications?

Hotels that are classified as “green” have a number of ways to keep such a status. Water saving techniques, such as low-flow showerheads, low-flow toilets, waterless urinals, and serving water only in request at hotel restaurants may sound like minimal measures that would have minimal effects, but these actions add up to many, many gallons saved per year. Hotels eliminate excess waste by asking vendors to deliver products in a minimal amount of packing, and recycling plastic, paper, and glass products. By also making minor changes and using ceiling fans, motion sensors for lights in public bathrooms, fluorescent bulbs, and other energy management systems, hotels can easily save electricity and become increasingly eco-friendly.

Some hotels across the nation are even going one step further. In cities such as Washington D.C., San Francisco, Vancouver, Dallas, and San Jose, hotels are adding beehives on the roof, chicken coops, and offering fresh and locally sourced honey and eggs. Collectively, these hotels keep around 2 million bees, producing about 5000 pounds of honey a year. Even the Waldorf Astoria in New York City has its own collection of bees on their roof: six hives and 300,000 honey-makers, to be exact. California seems to be embracing the idea of the chicken coup; Calistoga Ranch in Napa Valley currently keeps 12 chickens in, what else, a coup made of reclaimed-wood. Given the uniqueness of these hotel add-ons, it makes for a clever marketing feature as well. While the bees and chickens may be fairly inexpensive to keep and maintain, some hotels, like the Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver, there are honey truffles (a.k.a. “Bee’s Knees”) and a Honey Lager on the menu for paying guests.

So with all of these upgrades and measures to make a hotel more green friendly, do the results pay off? Maybe not as much as originally thought, one study found.

The Cornell University’s Center for Hospitality Research conducted a study comparing 3000 eco-certified hotels with 6000 other regular hotels across the country to see if the greener hotels had an advantage in attracting guests. The result? No booking advantage for promoting eco-friendly accomplishments from the green hotels.

But why would that be the case? Certainly the population, especially nowadays, should be enthusiastic about vacationing and producing less waste simultaneously. The report suggests, however, that some hotel guests are concerned that being eco-friendly comes with a sacrifice of amenities and comfort.

If more hotels made the switch to becoming eco-friendly, perhaps this wouldn’t be such a concern for the guests. If it became the norm, perhaps guests would be educated to the fact that with eco-friendly modifications, they wouldn’t need to sacrifice the environment for their vacation time.

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Mar 17, 2014: TryPeas

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