Green is the new black and hotel groups have been quick to take up the cause. The idea is that any policy that is better for the environment will also be better for the bottom line — and a good marketing tool. As an article in Travel Weekly recently stated, green can be defined in many ways and any hotel can call itself “green” even if it only means it recycles or asks customers to take part in a linen reuse program — we’ve all seen the signs in hotel bathrooms asking you to place the linen you want changed on the floor. But green can mean much more, such as using green architectural standards, participating in community programs such as distributing leftover food, purchasing local produce and products and undertaking carbon neutral programs. Some hotels have taken up the LEED cause. The U.S. Green Building Council has set standards for LEED buildings — LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — is an environmental certification program for architecture and construction. The standards cover such criteria as human and environmental health, sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environment quality.
Although only a few hotels now have LEED certification, Starwood Capital Group promises to build a chain of LEED-certified hotels. Hilton has a LEED property in Vancouver, Wash. The hotel’s restaurant buys produce, meat, fish, cheese and wine locally, thereby reducing the carbon emissions produced by shipping food and supplies. Marriott has a LEED-certified hotel in Adelphi, Md. The Inn & Conference Center at the University of Maryland University College is being touted as the country’s first environmentally friendly hotel and conference center built for minimal impact on the environment.
And how about green eggs and ham? Omni Hotels are doing their part with their policy of the exclusive use of cage-free eggs — the first hotel brand in America to do so in all its U.S. properties. Omni’s “The Art of Breakfast” will also feature all-natural pork products raised without the use of pesticides, growth hormones or antibiotics. Starbucks Organic Shade Grown Mexico coffee, Tea Forte and organic cereals will also be featured.