Ramp-up expenses can be costly, but hotels that "go green" can harvest rewards with new business and long-term financial gains.

Going green has its advantages in the tourism world. Hotels that meet state green certifications derive benefits ranging from saving money to saving the environment. While there is no sweeping federal legislation that mandates hotels go green, many states have taken on their own government-implemented rules and guidance.

In some cases, hotels are incentivized to go green with the promise of government and niche interest business. For instance, former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist signed a bill that as of January 1, 2008, state agencies and departments under the direction of the governor could not contract for meeting and conference space with hotels or conference facilities that had not received the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Green Lodging program designation.

Another state that has received recognition for its push to go green is Delaware. The Delaware Green Lodging program is a joint initiative by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the Delaware Hotel and Lodging Association to promote pollution prevention practices in the tourism and hospitality industry.

A few of the groups that give specific guidance to hotels are:

Trash and waste generated by hotel industry

With more than 50,000 lodging establishments in the United States, there is a significant impact on the environment when it comes to trash and waste. While many hotels — especially the smaller motels and lodges may not be able to afford a complete overhaul of their refuse program, there are small steps that can lead to big savings.

Linen cards

A significant portion of travelers are picky today about staying in places that are conscious of the environment. They expect to see certain things, like linen cards that ask visitors to re-use their towels at least a couple of times before casting them to the floor.

Reusing towels saves water, energy and staff efforts. Just the use of a little reminder to reuse can save up to 40 percent in energy bills.


Not all hotels can afford to install new energy systems, but there are lot of small ways to get on board the green energy bandwagon.

Recycling helps lower a gigantic expense in waste management. Keeping separate bins for paper, plastic and eco-waste can help eliminate a significant portion of waste expense. And recycling sorters at hotels have been known to retrieve inadvertently disposed linens, napkins, silverware and other hotel staples that otherwise might end up in the trash.

Energy-efficient lighting

Energy management systems help lower energy bills. Fluorescent bulbs and LEDs have proven to reduce energy bills. They can be installed in hallways, rooms, bathrooms and employee areas. The use of Lights Out cards can also serve as a gentle reminder to hotel guests to turn out lights when they are not in use.

Bathrooms are the most neglected room in the hotel in terms of energy waste; install motion detectors so the lights shut out after a period of inactivity. They can also be installed in exercise rooms and meeting rooms.

Cleaning products

The use of nontoxic cleaning products and the elimination or reduction of commercial detergent keeps employees healthier, and they don't have to breathe dangerous fumes. Employees appreciate that management cares enough about their health to invest in nontoxic cleaning solutions.

Water conservation

Saving water is a case of being reminded to do so. Hotel restaurants can opt to serve water only on request. And by installing low-flowing showerheads, toilets and toilet tank diverters in hotel bathrooms, conservation goals can be met.