An increasing number of business travelers are prioritizing green-certified hotels
in an attempt to reduce their travel-related environmental impact. According to Timetric’s Global Business Traveler Survey 2013, 47 percent of survey respondents state that it is important to stay in a green certified hotel during a business trip and an additional 7 percent consider this decision to be extremely important.
Business travelers also prefer hotels that have ‘green’ features, even in the absence of an official eco-certification. What do business travelers consider to be green, though? The more than 1,000 traveling professionals surveyed look favorably upon small changes like low energy lighting and reduced usage of plastic materials.
In the Asia Pacific region, solar hot water heating
is an important green feature while travelers in Europe and North America cite timed lighting systems and the use of post-consumer recycled paper products as important. While I agree that these are important features, these are steps that hotels should already be taking.
I can’t think of a hotel that I’ve stayed at in the last two years that didn’t have CFL or LED bulbs, recycled paper products, timed lighting systems and friendly reminders about the importance of water conservation. Even the rustic lodging located in Yellowstone National Park
had these features. These energy efficiency steps are the bare minimum, in my opinion, and hardly worthy of consideration as a green hotel.
Stepping outside of the eco-conscious features that are commonplace at hotels across the United States, I do see the value in green certified hotels. These hotels go above and beyond replacing light bulbs and asking guests to re-use bath towels.
The Green Globe Certification program is an international sustainable certification system for the travel and tourism industry. While energy-efficient lighting is important, it is only one piece of the Green Globe Certification puzzle. Green Globe auditors look at several sustainability features including:
- The implementation of a long-term sustainability management program
- Use of Fair Trade services and goods where available
- Supporting the community and employing local residents
- Reducing the use of consumable goods, energy and water
- A reuse and recycling program that diverts waste from local landfills
I think it is great that travelers are at least thinking about their carbon footprint while on the road for business but, in my opinion, the general thought that CFL bulbs and recycled products make for a green hotel is flawed. Perhaps more educational awareness campaigns are needed to change the general public’s understanding of what is green and what is greenwashing.