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Lodgings Target 'Green' as the Color of Success

By Anthony Cronin, The Day, New London, Conn.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Aug. 22, 2010--Green lodging.

It's a relatively new term, but expect it to become more common as travelers increasingly seek to stay in a place that practices environmentally responsible policies, from saving water to recycling.

In Connecticut, there are already 15 accommodations that participate in the Connecticut Green Lodging program, and several of them are located in eastern Connecticut.

"Growing numbers of consumers, including families and conference planners, want to know that the hotel where they plan to stay is 'green,' " says Amey Marrella, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection, who this past week announced that the state just certified its 15th "green lodging."

Being green, says the commissioner, can include increased energy efficiencies, water-use reductions or reducing, reusing and recycling materials found in a hotel, motel or bed and breakfast.

In addition, Marrella says being a certified green lodging hotel can provide that hotel or motel with a competitive marketing tool, in addition to the savings provided by reduced energy use.

By "greening a hotel," the institution can become more efficient, become friendlier to its surrounding environment and, say DEP officials, bolster its bottom line.

And it creates a healthier environment for those working at a hotel, motel or bed and breakfast as more of the cleaning supplies use fewer chemically infused ingredients, fewer linens are laundered, cans, bottles and other goods are recycled and lighting, entertainment, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems become more energy saving and efficient.

Karen Senich, the executive director of the state Commission on Culture & Tourism, says a green lodging facility is good for the environment and its guests, and the tourism industry supports the growing movement in the hospitality industry.

Locally, a number of bed and breakfasts, lodges and hotels have met the requirements of the program and are listed on the DEP website at www.ct.gov/dep/greenlodging and the tourism commission's site at www.CTvisit.com.

In addition, the facilities can also use an "eco" listing on the AAA and Expedia.com websites, says Cyndy Chanaca, a spokeswoman for the environment protection agency.

Chanaca says hotels are changing many of their practices, including moving toward "green" cleaning methods, water conservation and energy savings.

Michael Heaton, vice president of operations for the Waterford Hotel Group, says the clients "who we do business with on a regular basis are becoming more and more environmentally responsible within their own organizations."

He says it's "more and more" of a discussion point when working with companies requiring Waterford Hotel Group rooms and facilities, and sometimes having a "green" designation is a requirement before corporate clients will do business with his company.

"We're moving toward getting more properties certified," he says. "When we do green initiatives, it's something that our associates feel good about participating in, and working for a company that does that."

Three of Waterford's Connecticut holdings -- the Marriott Hartford Downtown, the Mystic Marriott Hotel & Spa and SpringHill Suites by Marriott -- are certified as green lodging facilities.

The green lodging certification program began in May 2009. The program was initiated by hotel owners who contacted the DEP and state legislators advocating a green certification program for their industry here in Connecticut. There are a total of 26 states that now have green lodging-type certification programs.

The program works by hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts accumulating points based on their environmental practices, which they can record in an online workbook at www.ct.gov/dep/greenlodging.

Marrella, the DEP commissioner, says there are new ideas and goals added periodically to the workbook, giving hotels new goals to reach. "As an added bonus," she says, "most of the operations described in the workbook also save money."

Her agency holds workshops on the green lodging program, and it plans to offer a series of three workshops in October to teach hotels and other lodging facilities about the green certification program. More information about those workshops will be posted on the DEP's website when the details are completed.

a.cronin@theday.com

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Copyright (c) 2010, The Day, New London, Conn.

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