Environmental Terms Definitions as used by the Environmentally Friendly Hotels
- Allergies: An approach by the
lodging property to take care of people with chemical sensitivities and allergies to airborne particles
that also reside in carpets, drapes, and bedding. The issue of allowing pets is of concern here too.
- Alternative Energy:
Renewable energy sources, such as biomass, small hydro, solar, wind, geothermal, tidal energy and
photovoltaic conversion systems. It excludes fossil fuels.
- Bonus: This indicates the property took more environmental steps than just the ones on the
list. These steps can be found in the Comment field. We will share that additional information in the
- Bulk Soap and Amenities: Soap,
shampoo, conditioner, and lotion provided in the guestrooms from a bulk dispenser rather than in individual packages.
This approach saves time and money for the lodging property and natural resources and landfill
contributions by cutting down on the packaging.
- Comments: This is a field we use for sharing the pros and cons of a property. As mentioned in Bonus, you'll
find mention of environmental steps above and beyond the issues we chose to look at. This is also where we
share observations that we feel could negatively affect your stay.
- Compostable Disposables:
Sometimes the use of disposable service items can't be avoided. In those cases we want to give
credit to the properties that choose disposable items, like paper napkins and corn-based plastic, that
- Composting: A biological
decomposition of solid organic materials by bacteria, fungi, and other organisms into a soil-like
product that can be used to enrich garden soils . This enrichment not only nourishes the soil but also
helps increase moisture retention and thus decrease the need for additional watering.
- Conference Center: This data is included so that conference planners can find green hotels
with meeting capacity. We suggest that conference planners also stress a green approach to the
conference facility so it's not just the guestrooms that are approached with environmental sensitivity.
- Cotton Towels and Linens: Cotton
products don't add VOCs to the air, thus helping air quality in guestrooms where they are used. Towels
and linens that are a blend of cotton and synthetic fabrics aren't sustainable because of their
reliance on petrochemicals. Organic cotton is even better because of their non-use of petrochemicals.
- Donating to Charity: One often
overlooked aspect of recycling is what to do with sheets, towels, table linens, furniture, carpeting,
window coverings, appliances, bedspreads, etc that aren't useable or useful to the property any longer.
Selling or donating them to others is a great way to have the goods reused and keep the items out of
the landfill. Food scraps can be donated to farmers while buffet leftovers can be given to shelters or
farmers. What can't be given away can be composted.
- Durable Service Items: Dishes, cups,
glasses, mugs, tableware, and serving pieces that are long-lasting, not disposable.
- Eco-friendly Food Served:
Offering food that's been grown in a manner sensitive to its natural habitat for preserving wildlife
and other plants, organically grown and raised, or local and thus freshly "harvested".
- Educate Guests About "Green":
Teaching people looking at their website or staying at their property about the green actions
they take and why those actions are important, as well as encouraging others to take their own green
- Educate Staff About "Green":
Teaching people working at their property about the green actions the property takes, why those actions
are important, why the staff needs to support the program, as well as encouraging staff to take their
own green actions.
- Energy Conservation:
Reducing the amount of energy used, for example, through the use of energy efficient lighting and
appliances, turning off lights and appliances when not in use and using insulation and weather
stripping. This may also be referred to as energy efficiency. It is possible to dramatically reduce
energy consumption for powering our homes and buildings (and cars) without major sacrifices. This
lessens our dependency on non-renewable resources and reduce the costs connected with excessive energy
- Environmental Cleaning: Approaching
housekeeping and laundry from the perspective of not using harsh or harmful-to-people chemicals or
cleaning styles. That includes not using perfumed or scented laundry supplies, carpet cleaners,
cleaning supplies, or air fresheners.
- Fitness Club: In this use we specifically are referring to a room of weight and resistance
machines for guests to use to maintain their health and fitness regime.
- Fresh Air: Guestrooms that either
have windows that open or are part of a fresh-air exchange system within the hotel. Fresh air, even in
cities, is healthier than the musty, stale air of closed-up rooms.
- Gray Water Recycling: Gray water is
wastewater composed of wash water from the kitchen, bathrooms sinks and showers/tubs, laundry sinks and
tubs, and washing machines (clothes and dish) where only non-polluting, biodegradable soaps are used.
Recycling this water is done via using it to water gardens and landscaping and as it filters through
the soil on its way to ground and subterranean water sources it is cleaned. Using it on the gardens and
landscaping reduces the amount of fresh water needed for that purpose.
- Guestroom Recycle Bins:
Special containers placed in guestrooms so they can put their recyclable items there, rather than
in the trash. This approach can teach a hotel's guests about the ease and benefit of recycling, and
makes it easier for a hotel to sort recyclable items.
- Hotel Recycle Bins:
Special containers placed around the property guests can put their recyclable items
there, rather than in the trash. This approach can teach a hotel's guests about the ease and benefit
of recycling, and makes it easier for a hotel to sort recyclable items.
- Internet: High speed internet access in the guestrooms. A hotel may have high speed
internet access in the business center, common areas, or conference rooms without having it in the
guestrooms. A guestroom may have dial-up internet too. We are only acknowledging high speed internet
access in the guestrooms.
- Maintenance for Conservation: A
hotel's approach to their green program can be replacing old, wasteful fixtures (light bulbs, old
toilets that use lots of water in their flushing, old shower heads and faucets that allow more than
2 gallons/minutes through) and appliances (like refrigerator and freezers, ice machines, washing
machines and dryers, air conditioners, furnaces/heaters, and computers) as they break or wear out,
with new efficient fixtures and appliances.
- Newspaper Program: We feel that
newspapers shouldn't be delivered to every guest in the hotel because it is such a waste of paper
and resources. Instead, newspapers should be available to those who want them, either free or at a
reduced price, thus saving resources and landfills.
- Non-Smoking Rooms:
Guestrooms guaranteed to be safe from the pollution of smoking. Some hotels have either entire
floors that are non-smoking or are completely non-smoking. Once a room has been smoked in, it's very
difficult to clean it enough to get rid of the odor that so many people are sensitive to.
- Organic Food Served: Organic
food has been grown without the application of pesticides or fertilizers. Plant nourishment comes
from the use of compost. Pest protection comes from growing healthy plants, companion planting, and
natural pest controls like beneficial insects.
- Participate in Green Programs:
Properties that either are involved in a certification program or have a membership in a green
program get acknowledged here. There is no guarantee that the property is taking green action just
because they are a member of a green association, but we hope their membership is an indication of
some green action. We have also learned from experience that involvement in a certification program
doesn't guarantee as much green action as indicated by the program. We are hoping this site changes
that and encourages more compliance.
- Promote "green" in Their PR:
Properties that at the very least mention their green focus are acknowledged here. We have
found it sad to see the number of properties that don't share their green actions via their website
and hope to see that change with time.
- Recyclable Disposables:
We feel that foam products -- cups, bowls, plates, and clam-shell boxes -- not only consume
petrochemicals in their production but also aren't recyclable, and they fill landfills with
materials that will be around for hundreds of years. Some of the same plastic products also don't
degrade in landfills and consume precious non-renewable resources in their manufacture. There are
recyclable disposable products that we encourage the use of instead.
- Review: As featured hotels are visited and reviews submitted, they'll be posted here.
They'll also be posted at our environmental
education sister site, ECOnomically Sound.
- Sheet Re-use Program: Different hotels have different names for this, but it's a way of reducing the water
and energy consumption involved in washing sheets daily. Sometimes the hotel states they wash sheets at a
specific interval, unless requested for more frequent changes, and sometimes the hotel lets the guests
request a less frequent than daily sheet change. Either way, when housekeeping complies with the "rule" it
saves on resources, time, and wear and tear on the sheets.
- Towel Re-use Program: Different hotels have different names for this, but it's a way of reducing the water
and energy consumption involved in washing towels daily. Sometimes the hotel states they wash towels at a
specific interval, unless requested for more frequent changes, and sometimes the hotel lets the guests
request a less frequent than daily towel change. Either way, when housekeeping complies with the "rule" it
saves on resources, time, and wear and tear on the towels.
- Transportation: Some properties offer free transportation within its grounds, between the property and town,
or within town (when the property is located in a town/city). It's a service that can reduce air pollution
and fuel consumption by increasing the efficiency of moving guests around. And when the property uses a
vehicle that runs on alternative fuels it's very conserving and efficient.
- Water Conservation: The practice of reducing water usage.
Water use reduction methods range from more efficient practices to capturing water for use through water
storage or conservation projects. More efficient practices include using low-flow toilets and waterless
urinals, shower heads, and faucets; washing sheets and towels less frequently (though of course between
guests); planting xeric gardens -- using native plants that don't require much additional water beyond what
falls from the sky; and gray water recycling systems.
- Xeric Gardens: Xeriscape is a coined word derived from the Greek 'Xeros', meaning dry. It is used to
describe landscaping with water conservation as a major objective. It often is also accomplished by using plants
native to the region. A xeric garden is an attractive, sustainable landscape that conserves water and is based on
sound horticultural practices.