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Ask Mr. Green
How can we choose Green hotels when we attend trade shows?

With so many hotels encouraging us to reuse towels and recycle paper, you would think that picking the Greenest hotels would be simple. And it is, if you know what to look for.

1. A Little Fresh Air
Consider a hotel that is located near the show. This might not seem Green at first, but if you can walk to the event you'll eliminate the pollution that comes with riding in taxis or rental cars. Convenience, cost savings, and a little of fresh air converge nicely around this Green choice.

Just imagine all the time and money you and your team spend getting around at show after show. The consequences of commuting add up quickly. A Greener alternative is to book rooms at the conference hotel or within easy walking distance from the convention center.

But if you can't stay close to the show, look for a hotel along a mass transit line. Alternatively, check with show management to see whether they offer shuttle busses to and from the main convention hotels.


2. Efficient Service
Since shows take place all over the country, you probably find yourself in hot, cold, dry, and rainy places throughout the year. The weather has a lot to say about how much energy a hotel uses to keep rooms warm or cool. On top of this, some regions benefit from relatively clean hydropower and gas-fired power plants, while other regions are saddled with coal power's comparatively high levels of pollution.

All other things being equal, it is ideal to choose hotels with modern, energy efficient heating, air conditioning and lighting equipment. But where can you get this kind of information? One option is to pick newer properties. In some states, new buildings adhere to more stringent energy efficiency standards than older buildings. This strategy isn't perfect because the standards are not uniform nationwide, nor do they account for older hotels that upgrade their equipment, as many of them do.

Consider reviewing the hotel's sustainability policy online. A hotel that publishes its Green strategy is in the Green game, and a quick scan of the policy will tell you whether it goes beyond reusing your towels to include overall energy and water use, waste management, organic foods in the restaurants, and other Green practices.


3. Good Company
Looking up several hotel sustainability policies might be time consuming. A simpler option is to pick properties that are members of voluntary Green hotel associations. Green Seal, for example, provides an online list of hotels that are rated according to a tiered system that is endorsed by accredited standards organizations. The criteria are rigorous, and you will find both business class hotel chains and boutique properties listed as Green Seal-certified.

LEED – the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system for buildings – is a certification that some hotels proudly display. A LEED rating at any of the four tiers represents a significant investment in making the property environmentally friendly.

Finally, EcoGreen Hotels presents a range of properties in several states that meet Green Seal, LEED, Energy Star or other green rating criteria. The EcoGreen website lists both properties and the certification criteria that its members meet.

It's hard to go wrong picking properties from these lists. Each will put you squarely on the path to a Greener night's stay. Be sure to consider location, too, because your transportation to and from the venue each day is a large part of your total on-site footprint.


Resources:
Green Seal Hotels
EcoGreen Hotels




Tom Bowman, president of Bowman Global Change in Signal Hill, CA, works with national institutions on climate change and sustainability communications and is a frequent speaker on improving public engagement in climate and energy issues. As a green business consultant, he advises companies on cost-effective sustainability actions and has won multiple awards for developing and implementing his own firm's successful green business plan. tom@bowmanglobalchange.com


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