Green Living: How to Travel Green and Stay in a Green-Friendly Hotel
There are many things to look for choosing in choosing a green-living, green- friendly hotel. Perhaps the best place to start is to see if your lodgings have been rated by the U.S. Green Building Council for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). The rating system covers the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings from homes to office buildings and hotels. LEED certified buildings use fewer resources and are more energy efficient. There are different levels of buildings that qualify. They are in order rated LEED Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.
Let’s look at some specific areas where hotels have improved their environmental impact. The first is water use. The average hotel uses 218 gallons of water per day per occupied room, more than three times what we tend to use in our homes. I’m not suggesting that you should stay in a hotel that doesn’t launder its sheets between guests. However, it’s reasonable to stay someplace with low flush toilets, water saving bathroom fixtures and a drip irrigation system for landscaping. The LEED Silver Certified Hilton Asheville, North Carolina, Biltmore Farms Hotel also employs a large-scale solar water heating system. It does not offer guests bottled water. This is green living at its most efficient.
Sandpearl Resort Clearwater Beach in Florida is also certified LEED Silver. It provides electric car charging stations for guests. The swimming pool is heated by geothermal energy while the hotel’s cooling is provided by an energy efficient chilled water air-conditioning system.
Portland Oregon’s Allison Inn & Spa carries a LEED Gold Certification. It features its own photo voltaic solar power array, with green roofing on its west wing. In the operations phase, it significantly typifies a green-friendly hotel with waste recycling, locally sourced food from its own 1 ½ acre garden. It employs environmentally friendly, green living cleaning and laundry practices, energy-efficient appliances and lightbulbs. It relies upon open windows for cooling whenever possible, using programmable thermostats and motion sensors to reduce heating and air-conditioning costs. It uses recycled paper products and refillable soap and shampoo containers for guests.
The Bardessono Hotel, in Napa Valley, California has earned platinum LEED certification. It was built from salvaged trees. Everything was made from non-toxic and hypoallergenic material. Even the linen is organic. It also recycles or composts its waste.
Finally, get assertive. Put together a checklist of what green elements are important to you and go to a prospective hotel’s website to take a look. Long-distance phone calls are very cheap these days. Pick up the phone and ask the concierge if you have questions. The only way the lodging industry will change in this country is if travelers start to demand green amenities.
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