Green Means Clean

By: Erin Carter

Florida's push for environmentally friendly hotels isn't just about saving energy.

When visiting Florida, why not choose a “green” hotel?

And “green” isn’t just telling the housekeeping staff not to change the sheets. For example, more rigorous inspection and cleaning of hotel air conditioners not only means lower fuel bills for hotels, but markedly cleaner air for customers.

Launched in 2004, the Florida Green Lodging Program is a voluntary initiative of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that designates and recognizes lodging facilities that make a commitment to conserve and protect Florida’s natural resources. The program’s environmental guidelines allow the hospitality industry to evaluate its operations, set goals and take specific actions to continuously improve environmental performance. The Florida Green Lodging Program is administered primarily online. To become designated, facilities must conduct a thorough property assessment and implement a specified number of environmental practices in six areas of sustainable operations: Communication and Education (Customers, Employees, Public); Waste Reduction, Reuse and Recycling; Water Conservation;  Energy Efficiency; Indoor Air Quality, and Transportation.

The Florida Green Lodging designation is valid for three years from date of issuance. To maintain designation, properties are required to submit environmental performance data (water, waste, energy) annually. Properties must also implement at least two new environmental practices from any of the six areas of sustainable operations.

The Florida Green Lodging Program benefits not only the environment but also helps designated properties save money and increase occupancy rates. By reducing water and energy use and reducing waste generation operating costs go down. Business is generated for state meetings and conferences through HB 7135 which gives preference to designated Florida Green Lodging properties. Designated properties also receive marketing and technical assistance benefits through the Florida Green Lodging website, where each designated property is featured and 24/7 Web access is available to Best Management Practices and Technical Assistance.

Peter Goren, an environmental manager with the State of Florida, says one benefit for hotels to turn “green” is the amount of money they save each year. Hotels can gain revenue by buying recycled products or spending less on the cost per ton for waste disposal. For consumers, this means hotels can keep their rates low.

Each hotel decides what it wants to do to maintain its “green” status while helping conserve and protect Florida’s environment. TradeWinds in St. Pete Beach installed Fluidmasters to control toilet water and installed thermostat sensors that turn off when the rooms are empty. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge in Orlando, programmable thermostats keep the temperature at a constant, and the resort schedules regular cleaning and maintenance of all its air-conditioning systems. The Four Seasons Hotel in Miami uses low-flow nozzles in the kitchen and has signs around the facility to educate the staff and visitors.

Many “green” hotels also use environmentally friendly cleaners and purchase 30 percent post-consumer recycled paper supplies to minimize their impact on the environment.

On, green lodging is indicated by a little green “house” icon.

This article was originally published in the 2008 edition of the Official Florida Vacation Guide. Click here to view or order Florida travel guides.

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