Thursday, February 25, 2010

Travelzoo to Highlight LEED Hotels

I recently wrote an article about the top online travel agencies and how they are currently segregating green lodgings on their websites (see article). Turns out Travelzoo will soon launch a new section on its site that pairs travelers with the best deals at LEED-certified hotels. Travelzoo is adding the section after surveying consumers about their green travel preferences. The site will go "live" on April 1 in honor of Earth Day which is April 22. See a preview of the site section here. The URL for the site will be when the site launches. It is great to see yet another travel site feature green hotels.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Helpful Resource for Those Considering Solar

If you are trying to figure out whether or not it makes economic sense to invest in solar energy at your hotel or inn, I recommend checking out several sources available at the American Solar Energy Society website. The first source, an article entitled, "What Does PV Cost?", explains that determining the cost of an electricity-generating photovoltaic system is not a simple process. There are many factors that come into play: worldwide price of silicon, competitive scene in module distribution, local costs for labor and materials, availability of incentives and rebates, etc. The article includes links to an online calculator to help one determine cost.

A second article tackles the issue of determining the financial value of a solar or wind energy system. For example, in areas where electricity costs are higher, solar and wind systems have more value. Of course being able to sell electricity one generates back to the utility is also important. This can be done in 42 states in the United States thanks to net-metering laws. Incentives and tax benefits also should be considered when determining system value.

The website also includes an article that includes a link to a spreadsheet that allows one to calculate the payback time and internal-rate-of-return for a proposed photovoltaic project. A significant amount of preparation is required prior to using the spreadsheet. For example, it asks for the annual energy output of the solar system as well as initial system cost.

Shopping for a solar system can be an intimidating process. Make use of the tools found at the American Solar Energy Society website. And, be sure to pick the brains of knowledgeable vendors. They should be able to answer any questions you may have, especially those in regard to available rebates in your area.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Vancouver Convention Centre's Platinum Feat

The timing could not have been better for the Vancouver Convention Centre--the international broadcast center and the main press center of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Timing for what? The Centre just announced that its West building, which opened in April 2009, has received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification. From a publicity/marketing standpoint, those running the Centre must be ecstatic. It is not every day that you participate in hosting the Olympics while earning LEED Platinum. In fact, no other convention center in the world has earned LEED Platinum--the highest LEED level.

Green Lodging News first featured the Centre in June 2007 (see article). What is so unique about the Centre? It includes a six-acre living roof, the largest living roof in Canada and the largest non-industrial living roof in North America. A restored marine habitat is built into the foundation of the building. A seawater heating and cooling system takes advantage of the adjacent seawater to produce cooling for the building during the warmer months and heating in cooler months. (See related release.)

The Vancouver Convention Centre is the second property to earn LEED Platinum in recent weeks. The Bardessono in Yountville, Calif., also has earned LEED Platinum (see article). They join Greensboro, North Carolina's Proximity Hotel as the only travel-related properties to earn Platinum. Congratulations to those three properties.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

HAC Survey: No Letup in Interest in Environment

The Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) just released data from its 2010 Canadian Travel Intentions Survey. Despite the current economic challenges, environmental initiatives are important to 40 percent of both leisure (44 percent) and business (42 percent) travelers, up more than 6 percent over 2009 figures. Forty-one percent, similar to 2009 HAC survey results, of leisure travelers say they are willing to pay between $1 and $5 per night to participate in a carbon offset program.

Most firms do not have a "green travel policy" yet, but travelers said more than twice as many businesses had a green travel policy in 2009 (11 percent) when compared to 2008 (4 percent).

The survey of Canadian travelers is the sixth annual Canadian Travel Intention study undertaken by the Hotel Association of Canada. The survey was conducted by TSN Canadian Facts and defines a traveler as someone who will stay at least one night in a hotel, motel, or resort. The online survey was conducted in December 2009 among 1,524 "likely travelers."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Participants Sought for Sustainability Survey

A group of undergraduate students completing their fourth year in the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto are seeking the assistance of general managers, owners and asset managers for a sustainability survey. The survey will help determine what social and environmental practices are currently being used in hotels, and also help determine what tools and resources are still needed to improve sustainability in the lodging industry. The survey will also attempt to determine the motivation behind sustainability initiatives.

The survey is being conducted with the assistance of the Sustainable Hospitality Council and will take 20 to 25 minutes to complete. The deadline for completing the survey is February 17, 2010. Click here to access the survey. All information collected will remain confidential. If you have any questions about the survey, write to Thank you in advance for your assistance with this study. It is great to see students getting involved in sustainability research.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Conde Nast Traveler World Savers Awards

Conde Nast Traveler is now accepting applications for the 2010 World Savers Awards--a travel industry awards program geared toward companies with responsible environmental policies and community programs. The categories include: 1) hotels chains, large and small; 2) city hotels; 3) resorts and lodges, large and small; 4) tour operators; 5) cruise lines; and 6) airlines.

Finalists will be selected by Conde Nast Traveler editors, and winners will be chosen by an independent panel of judges. The winners will appear in the September 2010 issue of Conde Nast Traveler. The deadline for entries is February 16, 2010.

Click here to download an application.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Smoking and Green Certification Programs

I have always kind of wondered how a hotel could be considered "green" and even be certified as such, but still allow smoking in some guestrooms and, in some cases, public areas. There is an incredible amount of evidence that links first-, second-, and third-hand smoke to cancer. In an attempt to get a handle on just exactly where the various green certification organizations stand in regard to smoking, I have begun to survey them. Whether by e-mail or through phone interviews, I am attempting to contact representatives of the most prominent national, state and city level green lodging certification programs. Look for an article and column soon on Green Lodging News that details the results of my survey.

What do you think? Should the fact that a property allows smoking be a deal breaker when it comes to certification? Or, should it be just one other factor that is considered by a certifying organization--at the same level as, say, a low-flow toilet?

Preliminary results of my survey show that certification programs are very inconsistent when it comes to smoking. One president of a certification program indicated that until I brought up the topic, he had never even thought about including a smoking-related question in his certification application. A representative of the most prominent green building certification program in the country told me that yes, one's hotel can be certified even if it allows smoking in guestrooms. Wow.

If your property is green certified but still allows smoking, I would like to know why you believe there is nothing ironic about that. My e-mail:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Architect Proposes Combination Hotel/Ski Slope

According to HotelChatter, architect/artist Michael Jantzen has designed a new hotel that is part ski slope, part hotel. Yes, that's right, the ski slope and hotel are part of one structure. The hotel/slope would be 400 feet high and be powered by a combination of wind turbines and solar cells. The hotel would incorporate passive solar heating and include a system that would collect rain water and melting snow for reuse in and around the hotel. The project is a long way from fruition. It certainly ranks up there as one of the most creative proposals for a "mixed-use" development.

Jantzen is well known for his designs that work with nature. His website includes designs for a sky-cloud pavilion, eco-tower and sun tower, elements theme park and much more. Will a hotel/slope be built any time soon? I doubt it, but it is refreshing to see that architects like Jantzen are at least thinking about a more sustainable approach to hotel building. While buildings built to LEED standards are great, they are just one step toward what are considered "living buildings" or "net zero" buildings--buildings that either produce more power than they consume, or the same amount that they consume.