Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Florida Green Lodging Program in Trouble?

I just posted an article last evening on Green Lodging News that details how Florida's state government, as part of it budgeting process for the coming year, is considering cutting four full-time and two part-time employees from the Florida Green Lodging Program—almost the entire staff. The program has been the fastest growing state green lodging program in the United States for quite some time. In fact, there are now almost 900 properties that have been designated as members of the program or that are in some stage of the application process. If the cuts remain in the budget (they may not), the program would fall on the desk of just one full-time employee (I can hear the THUD now.)

How could one employee effectively handle a statewide green lodging program? It would not be easy. If the program were reduced to one person, it would lose its on-site inspection component and properties would have to self-certify themselves. Would hotel owners cut corners if they knew their properties were not going to have to undergo an on-site inspection? Perhaps. Inevitably, what would happen for sure is that the program's momentum would slow, it would take longer to field property inquiries, and ultimately environmental impact would not be reduced as much.

Let's hope Florida's Governor Charlie Christ leaves Florida's Green Lodging Program alone. It is one of the best things going in the entire lodging industry.


David said...

I have requested that the California Green Lodging Program survey our Hotel which is ready to obtain the 2 palm status. After not hearing back from them vis email I tracked down the person in charge. I was told that they are under funded and have a large workload. It is interesting to me that the state would start this program and not follow through. It is very similar to large Hotel chains that put out Press Releases announcing thier Sustainability Program but never tell the hotels anything about the plan....can I say Hilton?

Joseph Bernard Malki said...

The Florida Green Lodging Program is the rock-star of all the programs in the US. We are putting our full support behind the effort to ensure its survival and to continue to educate hospitality management and staff about the program.

If you are interested in learning about the details of your facility going green, check-out and its courses designed especially for this industry:

Georgia Malki
Georgia Malki is the President of Seven-Star, green experts to the event industry. Ms. Malki has over twenty years of event planning and marketing experience and is deeply committed to transforming her industry towards engaging sustainable and socially just practices.

She began her event career with Whole Life Exposition and Conferences in San Rafael, CA where she rose to be the Chief Operations Officer. There she planned and organized the restructuring of company operations and budgets of over $3 million. She standardized marketing and green operations to facilitate ten annual shows hosting an average of 350 exhibitors, 125 speakers, 30 entertainers, 350 volunteers, 75 staff, and 25,000 attendees per show. Her implementation of the first recycling policy in 1996 helped lay the foundation for Seven-Star and its commitment to operating as a green company.

Georgia co-founded Seven-Star, Inc. in 1999 with life partner Alan van de Kamp, and brother Joseph B. Malki. Seven-Star is considered the world’s leader for green event production and green education.

Event Greening: Creating Sustainable Solutions

In this workshop attendees will explore the unique challenges and opportunities that ecological and social responsibility pose for the event and hospitality industry. We will provide insight into the social and environmental impacts of the industry and the solutions that show managers, General Service Contractors, facilities and subcontractors can use to contribute to the health of people and planet, while improving profits. Participants will learn how to source and utilize resource-efficient materials and processes, boost marketing advantage, and appeal to the healthy and environmentally conscious client. The four pillars of event greening will give the audience the frame work for successfully creating a “green” event.

The Four Pillars of Event Greening Include:

1. Eco-product conversion (earth friendly supplies, products, carpet and booth solutions, cleaners, and food, beverage and service ware)

2. Landfill diversion (resource recovery and conservation)

3. Energy and Water reduction, efficiency and saving

4. Carbon (greenhouse gases) emission calculation and off-sets

Peter Goren
Peter Goren is the Director of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Lodging Program, which provides technical assistance to the lodging industry and acknowledges properties that demonstrate their environmental achievements. He has over 30 years of experience working for the Department and as an environmental consultant in the private sector. As head of the Florida Green Lodging Program, he has overseen tremendous growth in this ground breaking initiative, increasing from 4 hotels in 2004 to almost 900 in March of 2009.

Mr. Goren is a regular speaker at various meetings and conferences dealing with the hospitality industry, meeting planning, and sustainable initiatives. Besides promoting the Florida Green Lodging Program, he advises on the most cost effective ways to reduce utility costs while protecting the environment. Today, Mr. Goren is actively working with a number of universities to incorporate the concepts of Sustainable Hospitality into both their research and curriculum.

Mr. Goren is a proud graduate from the University of Florida, where he received both a Bachelor of Science in Zoology and a Certificate of Environmental Studies.

Sustainable Hospitality: In Search of Low Hanging Fruit (1 AICP CM awarded)

The lodging industry accounts for about 8% of all energy and almost 5% of all the water annually consumed in the US. This presentation will give a brief overview of the “Green Lodging” movement both in Florida and the US, before discussing why sustainability is so important to the hospitality industry and the planet. The presentation will conclude with specific low or no cost ways the hospitality industry and other similar establishments can help protect natural resources while saving money.