It is Easy Being Green

It’s not easy being green, says Kermit the Frog. We hear you; you’re running a hotel and have enough on your plate. Being green just seems like a lot of hard work for nothing. Actually, you’re right in a way. It is hard work in the beginning, but once the systems are in place, it IS easy being green!

But before you start following Kermit’s way, let’s look at WHY it’s important to be green:

1.    Your shareholders: They expect a lot more out of your company these days. Transparency, solid ethics, strong resource management and being green…as well as being profitable. It’s called the triple bottom-line: social, environmental and economic success. They demand and expect it of you.

2.    Your employees: They’re demanding development and growth, cutting edge work and a sense of belonging…as well as working for a green company.

3.    Customers: Not only do they want the right product at the right time, at the right price, 24/7, but also they want to know that they’re buying from a green company so they can feel good about their purchase.

4.    Environmental groups: They are the watchdogs, making sure that you stick to stringent green regulations. And they are not afraid to use the media if you fail to follow the regulations.

Listening to your shareholders, employees, customers and the environmental groups will actually help your business. Customers prefer to stay in green hotels and will not only pay more for it, but will remain more loyal to your business. Employees will also remain loyal to you, keeping your retention rate high. Following the environmental regulations helps you attain and retain your licenses. It also keeps your bottom line green by reducing inefficient systems and waste.

Now that you understand why it’s important to be green, here are some steps to becoming green in a practical, systematic way:

1.    Green Vision
2.    Environmental Management
3.    Purchasing
4.    Staff development
5.    Local communities (if international hotel)
6.    Destination Management (if international hotel)

Before you begin turning green, have a plan in place. Do your research and develop realistic goals for waste reduction and environmental management. Then choose one senior manager to champion the cause for at least one year. They should have the passion, skills, respect from peers and knowledge to execute a company “green vision” to the necessary standards (local, regional, state, international).

Install measuring devices to see where the wastage is coming from. For example, install meters on equipment that uses water and energy in each department.

Measure and monitor these devices on a regular basis. Track the results and look for trends. Is consumption high on a certain day? Time of day? Time of month?

Once you spot the trend, set smart goals for reducing waste in these areas.

Once your plan is in place, create a communications campaign and inform all staff, guests, vendors and local community members of your plans and progress. Ask them for support and find ways to work together for continued improvement.

Complete a review of all the products you purchase to determine where the biggest waste is. Once this is determined, then research where to find more eco alternatives.

Once this is determined, then work with your suppliers to determine how they select their suppliers, to see how green your supply chain is. Look for products that are produced and disposed of in the most eco way.

Once this is determined, then write your eco criteria for purchasing and implement into your policy manual.

Create a long-term relationship with your green suppliers, motivating them to continue to be green in their purchasing specs.

Purchase as much locally as possible, whether it is food, beverages, client gifts, linens or room décor (candles, etc).

When possible, buy in bulk and store in large containers. Recycle all packaging when possible.

Your GenX and GenY staff want to be developed in their career. They are also interested in environmental issues and therefore will be your best allies in executing your green vision.

Get them involved in the green vision from the beginning, asking for their feedback and ideas. Ask them to chair a committee or work on a special task-force (recycling, etc)

Inform all new hires of the green vision during new hire orientation and all staff trainings. Maintain this momentum by putting the green vision on the agenda for all staff meetings, so that everyone is informed about the initiatives and progress made.

Use your communication campaign (repeat the message six times in six different ways) through email blasts, green parties, suggestion boxes, poster boards, meetings, fliers, green campaigns, competitions, and “green employee of the month”.

Employee local people when possible. Train and develop them to eventually be promoted to higher positions. Pay them a fair wage and allow them the same benefits as an expatriate.

When hiring local employees, be sure to maintain awareness of local culture, history, traditions and holidays amongst other staff and guests.

Get involved in your local community by donating time, money and other resources in a community project such as a school or health project. Work with the community elders to implement the project over time, using agreed upon criteria for success.

Find ways for your guests to be involved in the local community projects, through informational fliers, tours, and sponsoring opportunities.

If appropriate, create ways that the local community can benefit long term from your hotel, such as lease agreements, a bed night percentage to the community or other ideas.

Use local plants and landscaping for the garden area.

Create awareness for the local culture and heritage for all staff and guests, using local decor, informational fliers, recipes, and language when possible. Teach your staff and guests the “do’s and don’t” when working with a local employee of a certain heritage.

Develop “do’s and don’ts” for the local wildlife as well, including marine life, animals and flora.

Use staff transport and carpooling to avoid road damage and reduce carbon emissions.

This article was written by Annie Loehr who has owned and managed eco-friendly hotels for over 15 years. This piece originally appeared on