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SF hotel leading drive toward greener practices (Albuquerque Journal, N.M.)

By Kiera Hay, Albuquerque Journal, N.M.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Dec. 31--SANTA FE -- At Santa Fe's Sage Inn, taking the steps to become a greener business is increasingly becoming a priority.

"It's really important for us. A hotel can create a lot of waste. We don't want to be that hotel. We want to be on the other end of the spectrum with that," Guest Services Manager Dawn Osborn said.

Sage Inn has taken some steps on its own and participated in environmental programs promoted by the city. But managers want to go even further and, to that end, are signing up for the Santa Fe Watershed Association's brand-new Green Lodging Initiative.

"It makes it a little bit easier for us to be green and not necessarily pass on the costs to our guests," Osborn said. "It's a great educational tool for all of us and it's a fresh set of eyes for them to go into the hotel and let us know what we can be doing better, greener."

Funded by a $49,700 grant awarded to the Watershed Association by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the Green Lodging Initiative involves, among other things, helping Santa Fe hotels better conserve water and reduce the amount of chemicals and other pollutants they release into the environment.

The Watershed Association is contracting with HospitalityGreen, a New York company, to analyze the operations of participating hotels. Over the next year, the hotels will get, at no cost, perks such as one-on-one training, individualized recommendations and other assistance.

"There's been an incredible willingness from the hotel folks, and the motels and the B&Bs that we've seen, to work with them to help them streamline some of their systems around chemicals, around recycling and around water conservation," Watershed Association Director Felicity Broennan said.

Nearly 40 people gathered with Broennan at La Posada earlier this month to help kick off the program. Some attendees, like Penny and Dawn Aley, were there to consider the advantages of taking part.

"You can save money, and you don't have to use as much product and it's really better for the environment. We have a little small business motel. We want to try to not to waste as much as everybody else," Dawn Aley said. "I think the bottom line is important as well. I think this will help us out."

The Aleys, who own the Silver Saddle Motel on Cerrillos Road, were enthusiastic after listening to a slate of speeches by Broennan, Mayor David Coss, federal Environmental Protection Agency Area Director Ron Curry and HospitalityGreen founder Evadne Giannini. They said they intend to submit an application to the program.

Giannini touted the cost savings that can be achieved by hotels that become more eco-friendly. She also said customers, more and more, are beginning to expect green practices from the businesses they patronize.

As part of the initiative, the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico and Santa Fe Lodging Associations, Santa Fe Green Chamber of Commerce and a handful of local hotels and lodges have joined forces to create a related working group.


(c)2012 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.)

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