Investment in green lodging remains strong, survey finds

Investment in green lodging remains strong, survey finds

The greening of the U.S. lodging industry is continuing, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) 2012 Lodging Survey shows. 

More than 52,000 U.S. hotel properties were polled in the survey, funded by the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation (AH&LEF) and conducted by STR and conducted every two years. Similar data has been collected since 1988. There was a healthy response rate of 23 percent to this year’s survey.

While most of the questions were repeated from previous years, there were new questions as well. For example, hoteliers were asked for the first time whether they have energy efficient LED lighting. Averaged over the seven chain scales in the survey, 68 percent said they do. The segment with the most: upper upscale with 78 percent of respondents saying they have LED lighting. Another question asked for the first time was about the presence of electric car charging stations. Only 5 percent said they are providing them.

Fifty-nine percent of those responding said their hotels have recycling programs -- up from just 32 percent in 2004. Those properties most likely to have recycling programs are upscale or higher. By location, resort, urban and airport properties are most likely to recycle. Least likely: interstate hotels.

Increasing number of smoke-free hotels

The number of hotels with 100 percent nonsmoking rooms now stands at 63 percent, up from about 15 percent in 2004. Luxury hotels are most likely to be 100 percent nonsmoking (77 percent of respondents). Economy locations are least likely (39 percent). The percentage of guestrooms that are nonsmoking rooms dropped by four points from two years ago and now stands at 87 percent.

The percentage of hotels with water saving programs now stands at 75 percent, up from just 20 percent in 2004. Six percent of hotels said they use liquid soap dispensers in the bathroom -- a percentage that has not changed over the last eight years. Independent properties are most likely to use them (15 percent of independents).

Twenty-three percent said they use energy management sensors in their guest rooms. This is the same as two years ago and up from 15 percent in 2004. The percentage of hotels with a linen/towel reuse program stands at 76 percent, down from 88 percent in 2010 but still much higher than the 52 percent in 2004. By chain scale, midscale properties are most likely to have linen/towel reuse programs (95 percent).

Photo of sofa and tree provided by Atiketta Sangasaeng via Shutterstock

Twenty percent of respondents said they have air purifiers in their guestrooms. Thirty-four percent said they make allergy-free rooms available to guests.

Forty-nine percent of properties have or are working toward green certification. This is up from about 30 percent in 2004. Ten percent of respondents said they incorporated LEED into their structural renovations over the past year. Thirteen percent said they will incorporate LEED in the next year if major structural renovations are planned -- down from 21 percent in 2008.

The percentage of hotels with healthy menu choices stands at 63 percent. Two years ago, 68 percent of respondents reported offering such choices, up from 66 percent of respondents in the survey administered four years ago. Six years ago, 51 percent said they offered healthy menu items.

Thirty-five percent of hotels offer vegetarian menu options. Eighty-four percent offer an exercise room/health/fitness facility. This is up from 63 percent in 2004. Seventy-five percent of hotels offer fitness facilities at no extra charge to guests.

AH&LA members can download a copy of the 2012 Lodging Survey, which covers many other lodging categories besides the environment, via the Members Only section of the AH&LA website. Individual data points are available for $300 each from the AH&LA Information Center at (888) 743-2515.

This story originally appeared on Green Lodging News and is reprinted with permission.