By Chris Lewis

Sustainable this, organic that. The green movement is all the buzz in the hospitality industry. Many hotels and restaurants have embraced the movement, but many are still trying to sort it all out. Too often, being good stewards of the environment is perceived as a bleeding heart issue and the cost conflicts with the financial goals of the hotel property owner and operators. This is not true. In fact, with the right approach, the opposite is true.

As a former hotel operator for over 14 years, I was always looking for opportunities to increase GOP (gross operating profit) and cash flow. It only made sense to sort through innovative energy solutions and operational changes to find the right solutions that improved profitability as well as protect the environment. I came to the conclusion very early on that owners and operators could indeed build a viable business case for integrating sustainability into the operation of individual hotels. However, with countless options from energy management technology to green hotel certifications, the process has become confusing more than ever.

With so many products & certification programs available where should your hotel property start?

Measuring the hotel property’s current consumption of energy, water and production of waste (also commonly known as “benchmarking”) is essential to the start of any sustainability plan.Once the baseline has been established, owners and management companies should work with their investors to identify strategic sustainable goals and objectives. It’s essential to outline specific quantified projects and resources necessary to implement those projects.

Keep in mind there are many rebates, incentives and funding opportunities available through federal, state and local government energy programs as well as utility companies. From my experience, it is very common for operators to overlook these rebates and incentives when implementing changes as part of normal renovations or capital improvements – there by leaving money on the table!

Also, when hoteliers think of sustainability projects they often think of renewable energy, energy management systems, and lighting – but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Don’t forget to explore other hotel incentive programs for various other sustainable initiatives. Take for instance, the backup generation or demand shedding programs, which typically have no participation costs and you can earn energy credits every month while helping to ensure reliable power for the community.

So your hotel property has a sustainability plan and has reduced energy and water consumption and waste production. You’re saving money on utility costs and doing something positive for the environment but you’re not done. Now what?

Your green hotel’s sustainability plan should be proactively marketed. Hotel owners and operators should be aware that CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is an important factor to prospective corporate clients. Communicating your sustainable hotel’s message and green initiatives could ultimately shift your hotel’s room market share in your favor.

This RFP (Request for Proposal) season will offer even more proof of the hospitality industry’s corporate market. Companies like Dolloitte and Johnson & Johnson will continue to blaze the trail. The brands are already recognizing this and have been busy implementing corporate sustainability policies. In fact, brands are even redesigninghotel prototypes to meet USGBC’s (U.S. Green Building Council) LEED requirements. Therefore, strategically marketing and publishing the hotel’s green initiatives in energy, water and waste reduction is critical. Consider executing a green hotel marketing plan to get the word out.

As with any plans and policies, sustainability plans must be continuously reviewed and updated. There is no finish line. It is a perpetual journey. The technologies and incentives are constantly changing so a green hotel project that doesn’t pencil this year might make great business sense next year. For example, an LED (Light Emitting Diode) lamp that was $130 twelve months ago is now $49. And the lamp itself is dimmable and comes in a variety of color temperatures and radiuses, however that wasn’t always the case. It is likely that solar PV and other renewable will have a similar story. The costs will come down dramatically and the technology will improve and a good business case will be made for projects that, in the past, were not feasible.

About EcoGreenHotel
EcoGreenHotel (Robbinsville, NJ), is a privately held company specializing solely in the hospitality industry by providing solutions for a broad spectrum of sustainability issues from energy efficiency to online marketing and green hotel products on The company provides information, tools, checklists, current news and trends to the hospitality industry through its website, EcoGreenHotel also provides customized energy solutions tailored to the needs of the hospitality industry including green hotel certification support from LEED, Green Seal to Energy Star and Green Key. For further information, email or call 888-229-0213.

About Author
Chris Lewis, Director of Energy Solutions at EcoGreenHotel. With over 17 years in the hospitality industry, Lewis has managed and directed all departments both in the U.S. and abroad. Lewis’s experience includes full and select service hotels, facility management, property improvement, environmental initiatives, openings and multi-property management to the team. He previously served as Development and Construction Manager at OTO Development. In addition, Lewis’s expertise includes mechanical systems, equipment specs, purchasing habits, standard operating procedures and project management. He was responsible for the “green initiatives” for several properties that successfully qualified to achieve Florida Green Lodging, EcoRooms and EcoSuites, California Green Lodging and Irvine Build Green certifications.

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