Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Staying Green on the Road

     For many of us, summer brings along a number of activities that take us away from the routine of every day life.  From barbecues, picnics, camping, and more notably: vacations!  Whether it's a quick getaway or a week long excursion to the coast, we finally have the opportunity to enjoy the sun and relax a bit.  While some have a place they often retreat to such as a beach house or a rental, many will stay in hotels while they are away.  It can be easy to forget all about those wonderful "green" habits we practice at home, so here is a quick guide on what some major hotel chains are doing to ensure your stay is as eco-friendly as possible.

The Real Costs of Resources

     According to a hotel fact sheet released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the hospitality business spends about $4 billion on energy costs per year.  The rising costs of resources and the limited amount of natural gas available has caused concern not only within the hospitality realm, but the entire commercial market.  With that in mind, many major hotel chains have opted for a better solution by switching to combined heat and power, or CHP, systems in order to more effectively control costs.  Not only is this system less expensive and more efficient, it reduces air pollution as well.
     In terms of water usage, the resources spent are even more prevalent.  Hotel and lodging businesses account for 15% of the total water usage in the commercial market.  In the EPA's 2012 information sheet, they account restrooms, laundry operations, landscaping and kitchens as the highest uses of water in hotels.  Not only is cost a major factor in this, but the global implications may be even greater.  Research done by the Stockholm International Water Institute estimates a forty percent gap between supply and demand worldwide by the year 2030.   Local regions are already suffering in high drought areas, most recently California's Central Valley.  One such city, East Porterville, had to recently call for emergency water donations earlier this year when hundreds of citizens were left without water after wells ran dry.
     The EPA launched a WaterSense program along with a Hotel Challenge that encourages hotel chains to assess their water use, change their products and processes, and track their savings (see for more details).  A few of the major hotel chains with sustainability programs include Hilton Hotels, Marriott, and Wyndham Worldwide.

Your Part in Slowing Down Climate Change

     With many hotel chains getting on board with resource and money saving initiatives, you may be wondering what role you play.  Well, it turns out it might just be the most important one in this equation!  During your next stay at participating hotels, be on the look out for cards that indicate great tips on how you can help conserve water and other resources.  Here are just a few:

While staying in your "home away from home," remember that you can still make an impact.  Here are some additional tips that apply not only on vacation, but when you get back too:
 -Shut off lights and other electronics when not in use

 -If you're leaving for the day, turn off the air conditioning or heating units

 -Report any leaking faucets or toilets to the staff for speedy repair

 -If there is no recycling bin in the room, hold on to items until you reach the front desk

Feel free to share or reply with any other green conservation tips, and remember it's up to all of us to slow down climate change, even while on vacation.

-Mandy Alvarado

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