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Five States, One City Add Green Hotel Certification Programs

<p>In recent weeks, five states and one city have launched green lodging certification programs.</p>

In recent weeks, five states and one city have launched green lodging certification programs. I know there are those out there who are not happy about the addition of more green lodging certification programs to our industry, but I am excited for New York, Oklahoma, Indiana, South Carolina, Maryland, and Buffalo, N.Y. Congratulations to those who have worked so hard to put together these programs.

According to my count, there are now 23 states and three cities that offer some type of formalized assistance -- not always including certification -- to those interested in greening up their lodging operations. (Click here to see that list.)

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation got the ball rolling with its announcement in late September about that state’s program. The New York State Green Hospitality and Tourism Partnership, a combination of state agencies, business associations, and academia, worked together to initiate it. Lodging establishments will be certified through Audubon International’s GreenLeaf program. Less than a week later, the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department unveiled a new travel initiative called ECO -- Encouraging Conservation in Oklahoma -- which promotes, educates and encourages sustainable travel in that state. It includes education, green certification and marketing support for tourism industry partners. The Oklahoma Tourism department kicked off the ECO program with seven pilot programs.

In early October, the state of Indiana announced it will adopt the Green Key Eco-Rating Program as its official statewide environmental initiative. The certification program will be managed via a partnership between the Indiana Hotel & Lodging Association (IHLA) and Green Key Global, whereby the IHLA will promote the program to lodging properties within the state. Indiana’s announcement was followed in late October with announcement of the expansion of the Buffalo Green Hospitality Initiative. As part of a program called Green & Mean (It), a lodging certification program was introduced. Almost 50 people on five sub-committees were involved in putting together the certification program and corresponding workbook.

Green Hospitality Alliance Forms

At the very end of October, South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the South Carolina Hospitality Assn. announced the formal rollout of the South Carolina Green Hospitality Alliance. The program, developed in partnership between DHEC and the South Carolina Hospitality Assn., recognizes and certifies facilities for environmentally friendly efforts with an annual certification. The South Carolina Hospitality Assn. reviews all certification applications and rates facilities -- from One Palmetto Tree to Three Palmetto Trees -- based on a facility’s green practices.

Just this last week, Maryland’s Office of Tourism -- in partnership with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the Maryland Tourism Council -- launched “Maryland Green Travel.” The initial stage of the program will create an online, self-certification application for the lodging sector that uses environmental guidelines adopted by the American Hotel and Lodging Assn. and the best practices of MDE’s Green Registry. A similar process will be implemented for restaurants, attractions and other tourism businesses during 2010.

Once again, I applaud those industry representatives who have dedicated their time -- often on a voluntary basis -- to put together the programs described above. The programs are great marketing vehicles, motivation to reduce waste, energy and water consumption, great for the environment, and a positive influence on those managers and associates involved in the greening process.

If your state or city is currently working on a program similar to those described above, email me at [email protected]

Glenn Hasek is the publisher and editor Green Lodging News, where the original version of this post appeared

Image CC licensed by Flickr user hydropeek.

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