Green lodging refers to any hotel or resort that commits to environmentally-friendly practices. Brands that seek green lodging certification, which varies by state, conserve natural resources – like water and energy – reduce waste and lower greenhouse gases.
One international certification program, Audubon International, requires hotels to have a credible and all-inclusive method for assessing environmental efforts undertaken, including how the facility can reduce environment-related costs.
The Florida Green Lodging Program operates stateside, promoting the protection of Florida’s natural resources. The program provides environmental guides that allow hotels and hospitality brands to evaluate their operations, set goals and take action.
Why Is Green Lodging Important?
Today’s consumers are more eco-conscious than ever. They demand that brands adopt sustainable solutions, such as getting rid of single-use plastics like straws and shopping bags. Businesses that fail to adapt may find customers visiting with competitors.
Sustainability is an essential trend in the hospitality industry. In one 2017 survey, 19% of travelers said they would pay more for a vacation with a green electricity resort. Consumers are becoming more aware of their carbon footprint, and are taking steps to reduce it – including opting for eco-friendly travel.
Green building initiatives, while good for the environment, also come with financial gain. Sustainable hotels have lower operating costs, shaving 8% off expenses in the first year. They command higher building values and receive tax breaks and incentives.
Many hospitality brands are moving towards green and sustainable construction as a ground-up solution.
Net Zero Construction
At one time, net-zero hotels – buildings that produce as much energy as they consume – seemed impossible. Today, they’re an accessible reality. Hotel Indigo in Dubai runs entirely on solar power. When you charge your cell phone or watch TV, you produce zero emissions. Boutiquehotel Stadthalle in Vienna uses a combination of solar panels, photovoltaic cells and groundwater heat pumps. With a digital building management system, the hotel can monitor, control and track energy use to become more efficient.
Biophilic design is similar to biomimicry – however, instead of finding solutions from nature, the goal is to connect guests with the outdoors. Biophilic design in hotels can achieve a sense of serenity, mixing natural with artificial. Smart infrastructure can employ natural landscape to create a unique design. Biophilic design can contribute to overall health and wellness, having a positive impact on a guest’s well-being. Plus, guests will stick around longer, with a 36% higher dwell rate compared to hotel lobbies without biophilic features.
A big part of sustainability starts with the materials we use to construct buildings. Recycling and repurposing materials for construction is growing in popularity. At the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California, guests can relax in a guestroom constructed with reclaimed wine casks. Out in the garden, they can rest on a bench made from a fallen tree. At RIMBA Jimbaran Hotel in Bali, Indonesia, the lobby is built from driftwood and the remnants of old fishing boats.
Bryce Canyon Lodge, the only accommodations inside Bryce Canyon National Park, is practically homage to the great outdoors, nestled between red rock cliffs and spires. During recent renovations, they choose a wave coursed roof made of cedar. The shingles are fire-treated to protect against fires, both wild and manmade. The wave coursing, while not eco-friendly, accurately matches the original 1920s architecture.
Biomimicry is a type of design that focuses on solutions drawn from living things, such as insulation made from cacti or wastewater treatment that simulates wetlands. Biomimicry in hotel design can enhance the guest experience for the modern, eco-conscious traveler. Future hotels are not only energy efficient but coexist peacefully with natural habitats. A hotel could generate power using wind, absorb sunlight and collect and recycle rainwater.
The demand for cloud computing is growing. Combined with automation, which won’t bog down internal operations, a hotel can monitor performance, manage energy use, detect felt and diagnostics and much more. The real-time reporting can track inefficiencies and optimize performance to save energy, reduce waste and cut costs.
The green lodging market will continue to grow as travelers’ priorities shift to sustainability. Sustainable tourism is expected to register a CAGR of more than 10% by 2023. Hoteliers can make the transition by researching green construction initiatives like net-zero construction, biophilic design, repurposed materials, sustainable architecture, biomimicry and cloud computing.