Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Florida Green Lodging Program Downsized

Green Lodging News reported back in March that the Florida Green Lodging program faced the possibility of cuts. Well, it has happened. The program run by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is being restructured as of July 1. According to an article in the Orlando Business Journal, funding and staff for the program was slashed from $337,000 and four workers to $63,000 and just one employee. The DEP is trying to sound optimistic about the changes. On its website it describes some of the coming changes to the program as "program improvements."

The highly successful Florida Green Lodging Program has been unique because of its mandatory on-site audit. With the cuts, however, DEP will conduct "selected" facility assessments on a regular basis. Other changes to the program include a streamlined online application process, more hosted webinars to provide technical assistance, additional online marketing and educational tools, and a more robust set of best management practices.

As of June 12, there were 520 properties in Florida designated as Green Lodging properties. In the last two years, participation in the program has increased significantly. Growth was sparked by Governor Charlie Crist’s 2007 Executive Orders and 2008’s House Bill 7135 which requires all state agencies to contract with hotels that have received the Florida Green Lodging Program designation.

I feel for the person who now has to run such a large program alone. It will be a daunting task. You have to wonder if giving government the task of funding and running a green lodging program is really the best business model. What do you think? Be sure to visit Green Lodging News for additional details on the changes to Florida's program.

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