Simple Steps to Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

Travel, whether for business or for pleasure, takes a heavy toll on the environment: It’s a major contributor to climate change and is responsible for nearly a third of the greenhouse gas emissions that damage our climate. As a result, more and more hoteliers are working to become “carbon neutral” by reducing their own carbon footprint, and are encouraging their guests and meeting attendees to do the same.

For hoteliers, being carbon neutral begins with calculating your total climate-damaging carbon dioxide, or CO2, emissions and reducing these emissions when possible. While it is difficult to eliminate all CO2 emissions, there are simple steps hoteliers can take toward becoming more carbon neutral, including the following:

  • Replacing existing light bulbs with energy efficient fluorescent and LED lighting
  • Implementing a linen and towel reuse program
  • Installing low-flow showerheads and adding water reducers to toilets
  • Regulating energy usage in each room with the use of auto sensors or room automation systems
  • Installing energy-efficient exterior windows and doors
  • Using local suppliers to cut down on transportation emissions
  • Educating employees on “green” practices such as recycling and printing on both sides of the paper

The remaining emissions are then “balanced” by making a financial contribution to offset the energy consumed. This can be done through the purchase of carbon offsets or renewable energy credits (RECs).

Carbon OffSsets Vrtsus RECs

Both carbon offsets and RECs help fight global climate change by subsidizing renewable and sustainable technologies. Carbon offsets are commonly purchased to lower your carbon footprint, while RECs are purchased to buy green power.

Carbon offset programs estimate the amount of CO2 generated by events such as a guest’s hotel stay or participation in a meeting or event. The emissions are compensated for by funding projects which reduce greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere in the world. One “offset” reduces one ton of CO2 in the atmosphere. The most common types of offsets are reforestation, renewable energy, and energy efficiency projects. Offsets can be purchased through numerous providers, including TerraPass and Native Energy.

In contrast, RECs represent the greenhouse gases that are NOT produced when one megawatt of energy is generated by a clean, green source, such as solar or wind power. Purchasing RECs guarantees that the energy you use will be added to the power grid in the area where the generator is located, and helps support further development of renewable green energy here in America. Most RECs are tracked and certified by Green-e Energy, the leading certification program for renewable energy, and are available for purchase through Community Green Energy, LLC.

REC stats

Although many hotels incur the cost of purchasing carbon offsets or RECs without passing them along to their guests, others involve their guests in the process by offering them the opportunity to voluntary donate to the cause. The choice is yours to make. Either way, following green practices and offsetting the cost of your guests’ stay is a win-win situation for you, your guests, and the environment.

Are you helping to reduce your carbon footprint and/or that of your guests?  Share what is working for your hotel!

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EcoVision Sustainable Learning Center seeks to develop and promote scalable solutions for renewable energy, energy efficiency, green building and sustainable living where economic growth goes hand in hand with respect for the ecology.

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