AH&LA Proposes Guidelines for Green Hotels
New York, November 11, 2008 — The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) launched its green strategy at its board of directors meeting, Sunday, November 9. The strategy focuses largely on minimum environmental guidelines, which are culled from a total of 88 overall guidelines targeting effective energy, water and waste management. The guidelines will be continuously added and built upon, with the next set focusing on design and construction, materials and resources, chemicals and cleaning, and indoor air quality.
Each of the minimum guidelines includes case studies, business cases, and resources for general managers to implement. In addition, the AH&LA board of directors will discuss the program mechanics, including how to recognize hotels that successfully implement the minimum guidelines. The completed guidelines and supporting materials will be launched via the AH&LA Website by the end of December.
In addition to extensively surveying members, the association’s overall green strategy was crafted largely by the AH&LA Green Task Force, which convened in August and is comprised of the environmental point persons for a dozen of the hotel companies as well as AH&LA’s green consultant, Pat Maher, formerly of Marriott International. The group created an environmental policy statement, recommended AH&LA track state and national legislation, and advocated the need for supporting educational materials. The Task Force is an extension of the AH&LA Environmental & Engineering Council, which has made a green strategy for the lodging industry a priority over the past 13 months. In that time, nearly two dozen certification programs were researched in the hopes of partnering with a third-party to offer AH&LA members a certification program.
When no program was readily available or affordable, the Green Task Force recommended identifying the most important pillars – including energy, water, waste – and have hotels report on progress against the pillars in terms of benchmarks and baseline numbers. The guidelines were created based on the criteria of existing state and national certifications.
“We’ve exhaustively researched this important topic to determine the best way the association can assist our members who want to create an environmentally-friendly and sustainable hotel,” said AH&LA President/CEO Joseph McInerney, CHA. “With so many certifications already out there – many of which are through the property’s state and a necessity for government business – the biggest feedback we received was the need for guidance on how to green properties effectively in various areas. Not all hotels will be able to achieve these guidelines, but we want to make sure we set a bar and goals now so hoteliers receive direction for immediate action. These guidelines – which address back-of-the-house and interfacing with guests – will be continuously added to in our ongoing effort to provide green resources in a broad spectrum of areas.”
The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute has integrated environmental information into its popular housekeeping operations textbook and Certified Hotel Administrator certification. EI is also showcasing a new resource at the International Hotel/Motel & Restaurant Show – High Performance Hospitality: Sustainable Hotel Case Studies – in both print and CD. Content is being updated to its front office, leadership and management, and resort development and management textbooks, in addition to the creation of other educational resources around the AH&LA environmental guidelines.
Other green environmental priorities of the association include working with the U.S. Green Building Council via a Hospitality Advisory Group to create a LEED lodging sector standard for new and existing construction. That standard is expected to be complete by June of 2009. And, AH&LA is working closely with two meeting planning organizations, including the Convention Industry Council, to create eco-savvy standards for green meetings that are ASTM-certified. The standards are set to be released in May of 2009.
AH&LA also served on the steering committee of the United Nations Foundations Partnership for Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria program, which is adopting universal sustainable tourism principles.
The association launched a Green Webpage in January, which serves as an online resource offering cost-effective and eco-savvy tips and strategies, information on certifications and government funded programs, suppliers producing environmentally-friendly products, as well as a RSS feed from Green Lodging News. In addition, a new component is coming later this week – Ask AH&LA’s Green Guru – through which Pat Maher will answer members’ questions to all things green.