Friday, November 22, 2013

Redefining Eco-Friendly to Accurately Measure

Report finds eco-friendliness not a factor in filling hotel rooms:  By Danny King

There are two factors that I find significant in Danny King’s story on the report from Cornell University School of Hotel Administration issued publicly in October 2013

(1) The data metrics that were used: Sabre's, Travelocity Green Program and the International Carbon Measurement Initiative

(2) What is "Eco-friendliness?" How does the customer perceive that concept and the value?

Let’s explore the first data metric that was used, Sabre's, Travelocity Green Program.  Sabre's Program unlike Trip Advisor's (TA's) program, was never clearly rolled out. Let's think consumer for a minute. To find a Green Hotel rated by their program on Travelocity’s public site, you would think that you would go to their main site page.   But, there is no listing and no drop down for "green" on the main page.  If you care or know or have looked up, Googled, "Travelocity green hotels," you get guided to an interior page not even listed in the site navigation for "Green Hotels."

The Travelocity Green page  is a confusing site page loaded with PR jargon and the actual listings of hotels nearly impossible to find. There is no simple procedure for booking. If this is the tool that was used; number of hits, bookings from this source etc., I am surprised they got anything to measure based on the customer interface of the tool.

The article goes on to describe how many hoteliers went on to embrace measuring carbon footprints as the second metric used. Well if you look at the portfolio of Inter-Continental Hotels Group (IHG), the lead company in the article that is mentioned, you realize that this particular hotel group is heavily invested in countries that are embarking on carbon legislation that will and does impact hotel operations. For many reporting is a legislated necessity. IHG’s site provides insight into their carbon initiatives. The US is also an active participant in the carbon reporting dialogue. Carbon measuring for the international hotelier is a standard practice for conducting international business.

Reviewing this concept from the consumer perspective, this is currently a pretty confusing concept. Ask anybody if they are trading or calculating their carbons and you will see a blank stare much like the deer on the side of the road. To most consumers, it does not mean a thing. Carbon trading goes far beyond and is in left field when describing to the consumer "Eco -Friendly" and potentially a reason for booking a hotel room.

So the metrics for measuring eco-friendly consumer spending behavior missed the mark. The metric failed as a measurement for consumer habits. So does that mean that the customer doesn't care or value green? I think Danny King's article would like us to believe that. "Eco-friendly is not a factor in filling hotel rooms" I question the definition, measurement and context of his statement.

It is interesting that the article completely leaves out the TA program. Understandably, the TA program was not in existence when the study was done. The author chose to use only the data from the Cornell study. The TA program is the game changer for the industry. TA reported in 9/13 that it had doubled its participation and had become in less than 9 months the largest certification program.  The first report on the Cornell Study was publicly issued one month after TA’s progress report.  And this article is published  a mere two months after the TA data. Certifications and green programs are without a doubt rattled by TA's game changer.

What is intriguing, and I believe significant about this article and gleaned from the report, is what was used to measure eco-friendly customer value engagement.  Dr Chong and Dr. Verma, authors of the study, in their executive summary succinctly state, “While this study doesn't address the situation of any individual hotel, we can conclude that going green is compatible with existing quality standards of hotel service…”

Therefore I pose the question, is eco-friendly as it was defined for the last 10 years as, the initial steps that a hotel took to “Go Green,” now viewed by the customer  as standard, norms? Are these standards of service which we initially thought of as green standards now “existing quality standards of hotel service?” A norm then becomes hard to measure as a factor to measure purchasing habits since it is assumed. I would argue that it is this metric and the definition that has changed and consequently changing the consumer’s attitude towards the value of eco-friendly.    

Energy Conservation, water savers, sheet and towel programs and recycling are all now just considered a part of normal quality standards of hotel service. I draw the analogy of the customer who asks the front desk for a toothbrush that he/she forgot to pack. Would the front desk employee even think to say, “Oh we don't have a toothbrush, we don't do that?”  Well, that's where we are with Eco-Friendly.  

Consequently how the customer views eco-green/eco-friendliness has changed.  How the customer rates the hotel for green has changed.  If you take a moment to study how TA has listed Green Practices, Energy etc. under its Green Certification lexicon, you will see how those attitudes have changed. To enter into the program as a Green Partner (Base 1 Level), it's not enough to have energy efficient bulbs, that's a given. What you need to do in order to enter as a Green Partner is track energy use for a minimum of one year. The language for the consumer in TA's public green face is much more evolved than the standard of 5 years ago. The customer is smarter, knows more, expects more and gets it. If they choose to engage, they can respond based on the customer experience and a metric which rates a hotel on basic green standards and their practices that are above and beyond the norm. And hopefully an employee, having been required to take Green Team Training can engage in dialogue with the curious customer about the hotel's practices. 

So as a customer, we no longer look at or reward a hotel for doing the basics, the givens. On the other hand, do we really decide if we are going to stay at your hotel if you measure your carbons?  The question remains. Will hoteliers read this article, go about business as usual and not really look below the title as to the true significance of the article? The executive summary of the research paper states, “…advertising green status doesn’t hurt a hotel’s revenues. Earning a green certification does not automatically result in a large revenue bump nor a revenue fall. In short, green is not a “silver bullet” strategy. “

The game changer is to actively engage the consumer in the process.  And without a doubt in marketing we know that when you engage people in authentic stories and link their actions to responsible tourism, the consumer finds it more appealing and fulfilling, the sweet spot of added value.

Linking authenticity and responsibility are powerful marketing tools. Linking your green practices to your regional stewardship of the environment brings a whole other dimension to the green / eco-friendly commitment both for the consumer and the hotelier. Our drums need to march in the same parade. It's not about just a towel or a bulb, it's also about how our actions and spending habits impact where we live and play. Our job is to create those linkages. Our definitions and understanding of eco-friendly are changing and in a sustainable direction for all.  It just requires defining and measuring accurately in order to tell the story with authenticity.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Congratulations to the Green Concierge Participants

Left to Right / Top to Bottom
10,000 Waves, La Fonda, Hotel Santa Fe, The Sage Inn
The Inn of the Governors, La Posada de Santa Fe, Casa Cuma B&B,
Old Santa Fe Inn, The Eldorado Hotel & Spa, Inn at Santa Fe
Inn on the Alameda, Inn of the Five Graces, Silver Saddle Motel

On October 15th, thirteen properties of Santa Fe received notification from HospitalityGreen (HG) that they had passed the requirements of Phase 1 of the Green Concierge Certification® program. In early October a site audit was conducted at each of the properties.

Each property met the initial requirements of the Phase 1. For completing Phase One, the property was issued by HG a report card on the status of their certification, a Green Page stating their commitments and validation of their green initiatives and permission to use the HG icon. The Green Page along with the HG icon can be placed on their websites and available for customers and employees to read.

In order to meet the first tier, the bronze level, of the Green Concierge Certification® each property must undergo the site audit, meet multiple standards and provide resource usage for a minimum of six months. Each property will need to meet the bronze requirements on or before January 31, 2014 in order to be certified by HG this year.
Evadne Giannini, founder of HospitalityGreen spoke at the Green Lodging Initiatives Working Group local partners meeting. She said, “Each of these properties is totally unique. Many are privately owned and have been established for generations in Santa Fe. Their understanding and appreciation for both the culture and the environment is revealed throughout.

It is most rewarding to be working with some of the oldest hotels in the country and to see that, yes, from Route 66 original motels to historic luxury properties green practices can be implemented and achieve extraordinary results.

It is much easier to implement sustainable initiatives on newer properties. It takes creativity, resourcefulness and a dedication to achieve this level of results on older properties.  These properties should be recognized as leaders in the industry. Over the next few months, we look forward to publishing more information on each of them.”  

Felicity Broennan, Executive Director of the Santa Fe Watershed Association said, “It is our intention that the guests of Santa Fe will recognize our individual lodger’s commitments to sustainability and participate in the conservation of the precious resources available to us here in Santa Fe.”  

The Santa Fe Green Lodging Initiative is a public-private sector collaboration spearheaded by the SFWA and funded by a $49,700 grant awarded to the Watershed Association by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The SFWA contracted HospitalityGreenLLC to provide training, one-on-one technical assistance, and to implement the Green Concierge Certification® to the lodging providers of Santa Fe.  It is the intention of the program to work with the Santa Fe partners to help brand Santa Fe as an eco-tourist destination.

For more information on the Santa Fe Green Lodging Initiative: 
Adrianne Picciano, Project Coordinator
Tel: (845)-436-6173

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Group finds cutting waste yields savings

Program targets resorts' use
Evadne Giannini’s company, Hospitality Green, helps businesses save money by being environmentally friendly, such as going through the recyclables at the Villa Roma Resort to help the hotel reduce its waste.DOMINICK FIORILLE/ Times Herald-Record
MOUNTAINDALE — Villa Roma maintenance Manager Bill Andrews parked a passenger van in the resort's Dumpster yard and Evadne Giannini got out and began inspecting clear bags filled with money.
Inside were bottles and cans collected as part of a recycling program expected to save Villa Roma more than $100,000 this year. Giannini was checking the purity of the program, which was launched with the aid of Mountaindale-based business Hospitality Green. She peered into bags to ensure they were free of other waste.
"This is money for them," said Giannini, the company's principal.
Reducing waste to yield savings for hotel and other clients, and showing how "green" products can protect employees and guests, is a growth industry for Hospitality Green as businesses pursue savings and travelers prioritize hotels using sustainable practices.
Giannini and her contract employees can be found looking through Dumpsters and trash bags, following trash haulers around and checking supply closets to see where clients can reduce waste and replace hazardous chemicals.
"We have to get under the hood," Giannini said.
Zero waste is the goal for Hospitality Green, whose local clients includes SUNY Sullivan and The Sullivan hotel.
To achieve that, the company recruits all levels of a business' operations, from maintenance and cleaning staff to supply purchasers and food service workers.
The benefit of junking incandescent bulbs in favor of longer-lasting CFLs and LEDs, thereby saving on replacement costs, is part of the mix.
So are composting and recycling, which can save on Dumpster and landfill costs, and green cleaning products, which can reduce worker health costs and appeal to guests sensitive to the odor of some chemicals.
Convincing all employees to buy in to sustainable practices is the key, Giannini said.
"Our job is to figure out a way to bring this rather complicated information to people where they can understand they can make a difference," she said.
One client, Dover Downs, saved about $250,000 on its landfill bill by diverting recyclables from its trash stream, Giannini said. Villa Roma expects to save significant amounts on the single-stream recycling program launched in June.
"A lot of people have the belief that going green is a lot of money," said Bill Andrews, the resort's maintenance manager. "But the overall savings, there's no comparison."
Villa Roma eliminated three Dumpsters and cut back on the frequency of pickups, which cost $150 per pickup plus $70 for each ton of trash.
Andrews predicts the savings may double next year.
"Not only is it great for the hotel, it's great for the environment," he said.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Weight of Water Part 2: Desert Droughts & Deluges

Storm Descending
Turn on almost any faucet in Santa Fe and clear, clean free-flowing water will come out. This is a miracle. Where I live, just 20 miles south, water doesn’t come as easily. My house has no water source – no water lines, no well – other than rainwater from the sky.  It rains less than a foot a year in this part of New Mexico, most of it in the summer months, and on more than one occasion, I have turned on the tap and had nothing come out.

It’s true what they say: there is no shortage of water in the desert, but exactly the right amount. Living off rainwater in the desert takes vision: you have to be able to see past dryness to the deluge so when rain does come, often in the form of a sudden, biblical downpour, you are ready to collect as much rainwater as possible.

Floods are as much a part of this place as drought. As dry as the desert appears much of the year, its shape is dominated by the running of water. Since it’s dry most of the time, the soil doesn't seem to know what to do with water when it does come and storm scars cut deep and last for years.

Horses crossing an arroyo
Arroyos are the great gutters of this desert: rivulets lead to small gullies and then larger ones, which empty into the deep arroyos that, a few times a year, I’m told, flow in white caps down to the Galisteo River. Knowing the arroyos as deep, dry scars, I found it hard to fathom them full of water, until I witnessed an August flash flood.

One minute it was sunny, then it was a bit overcast, then rain was coming down in buckets. Rain is rare enough here to warrant stopping what you're doing to go watch it from the porch. But this time my porch was already soaked. This storm was something different. The rain was falling sideways and upside down, the wind-driven drops pelting so hard that when they hit they bounced back up towards the sky.

Squinting through the downpour, I saw a rushing, chocolate brown river raging across my driveway. This was the storm I had been waiting to see! I pulled on my water shoes and grabbed my camera and ran out into the rain. The driveway river was running fast and high enough that I would not attempt to drive across it. I turned upstream and plunged into the knee-deep fast running water without bothering to roll up my pant legs. Pants be damned; I had a waterfall to see!

I sloshed upstream, towards the spot I'd always planned on heading in the event of a storm like this: a spillway of red sandstone evidently sculpted by past floods less than a quarter mile from my house. The violent current was knee deep and frothy brown, like a melted chocolate shake – the good kind, thick with cream – and nearly as cold. 

Following the roaring, sloshing river between the high arroyo banks, water borne debris – sticks and rocks and I hoped not rattlesnakes– pelted my submerged feet and wrapped around my legs and I was glad for the long pants, though they were soaked and filthy. I rounded a few bends in the river and arrived to an incredible scene: raging water had transformed the usually dusty dry place and save for the familiar rocks crowning the falls, I hardly recognized it.

Rain was pouring, thunder was rumbling, lightning was clapping and the waterfall was glorious, falling like rushing chocolate and churning madly at my feet. A flood in the desert! I had to see it to believe it.

 In a one-inch rainstorm, a thousand square foot roof will catch 650 gallons of water. In that one spectacular summer storm – which loosed more rain than in the previous nine months combined – my roof collected enough water to last me through most of the winter. And that’s not even as wet as it gets out here. Heading west from my house across BLM land, I can hike to the Galisteo Dam, a massive flood control dam built in 1965 to hold back 100-year floods. As far as I know, they've never come, but there’s still time.

Standing at the top, on the edge of the dam, among bright red and pure white sandstone slabs – the red dotted with chartreuse lichen, the white decorated with delicate fossils of frozen grass – I finally saw the need for the dam: the land below is rippled by giant flood waves.
Only from this vantage, high above the desert, could I begin to grasp the vast expanse of time preserved here. Millions of years ago, this landscape was underwater, drowned beneath an inland shallow sea. Much later the Cerrillos Hills and Ortiz Mountains littered the ground with glittering shards of volcanic rock.
Cerrillos Hills Summit

 This desert is made up of millions of years of these layers, layers of Earth, layers of life. Studying these layers from the top of the dam, our own layer of Earth, the uppermost crust we live upon, love upon, ransack and pollute upon, becomes ever so humbly thin.

The rains will always come again, but there’s no telling when. In our lifetimes the deserts are desertifying: trending drier and drier, with longer and longer waits between deluges. How dry is too dry? How long is too long? Better to learn the weight of water, before those miraculously free flowing taps run dry.

About The Author
Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance writer, photographer and professional housesitter who makes her home on the back roads of rural North America, living and working out of a solar-powered Teardrop camper. When she’s not at the wheel or the keyboard, she can be found outside, hiking, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Follow her travels at 

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Santa Fe Green Lodging Initiative receives the Sustainable Santa Fe Award for Green Economic Development

The Santa Fe Green Lodging Initiative receives the Sustainable Santa Fe Award for Green Economic Development 
Santa Fe, New Mexico - April 27, 2013 - Felicity Broennan of the Santa Fe Watershed Association, spear heading the public-private sector collaboration called the Santa Fe Green Lodging Initiative, received today the 2013 Sustainable Santa Fe Award for Green Economic Development at the Eldorado Hotel, located at 309 W. San Francisco Street in Santa Fe. The 2013 Sustainable Santa Fe Awards are sponsored by the City’s Sustainable Santa Fe Commission, Earth Care NM, Green Fire Times, and the Green Chamber of Commerce. 

Santa Fe hosts more than one million tourists every year. While tourism is an important part of the Santa Fe economy, tourism puts considerable pressure on the environmental resources of the city. In 2012, The Santa Fe Watershed Association (SFWA) was awarded an 18 month grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to partner with the City, lodging associations and providers to develop Santa Fe’s Green Lodging Initiative. The initiative was undertaken to generate economic development and to work with lodging providers to help conserve water and reduce chemical pollutants entering the Santa Fe watershed. 
SFWA contracted HospitalityGreen LLC, founder of the nationally-recognized Green Concierge Certification® program, to provide Santa Fe lodging providers training, coaching, and individualized technical assistance that leads to third-party green certification. 
HospitalityGreen LLC’s work in the Catskills resulted in measured environmental and financial outcomes. Participating businesses diverted at least 2,640 tons of waste and increased occupancy in 2011 by 20 – 25%. Certifying over 20 properties helped legitimately brand the Catskills as a green destination resulting in increased tourism and local jobs.  Similar results are expected from the Santa Fe Green Lodging Initiative.
The Santa Fe Green Lodging  Initiative was launched in November 2012 and fourteen Santa Fe properties representing  B&Bs, hotels, inns, motels, and resorts qualified for participation including:  La Fonda on the Plaza, La Posada de Santa Fe Resort and Spa, Old Santa Fe Inn, Inn on the Alameda, Silver Saddle Motel, Eldorado Hotel and Spa, Santa Fe Sage Inn, Hotel Santa Fe, Inn of the Governors, Ten Thousand Waves, Inn at Santa Fe, Inn of the Five Graces, Fort Marcy Suites, and Casa Cuma Bed and Breakfast.  
By adopting streamlined sustainable practices, these lodging providers will save money, upgrade their facility to meet growing market expectations, and increase their competitive advantage in an expanding green hospitality marketplace. 
Evadne Giannini, Founder and CEO of HospitalityGreen LLC, said “We are honored to be working with this exciting public-private partnership and to be awarded the 2013 Sustainable Santa Fe Award for Green Economic Development.
The Santa Fe Watershed Association (SFWA)  builds vibrant, resilient ecosystems within the Santa Fe River Watershed using a holistic approach of restoration, education, stewardship, and advocacy.  

Santa Fe Green Lodging Initiative’s growing directory of local partners includes: Santa Fe Watershed Association, Santa Fe Convention and Visitors Bureau, City of Santa Fe Environmental Services Division, New Mexico Lodging Association, Santa Fe Lodgers Association, Santa Fe Community College, New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce, Santa Fe Chapter, Inn of the Governors, La Posada de Santa Fe Resort and Spa, and the Inn and Spa at Loretto. 

HospitalityGreen LLC, is a New York based consulting firm specializing in environmental and operations consulting services. HospitalityGreen partners with service-based and product-based clients throughout the hospitality, manufacturing and institutional healthcare industries, to implement sustainable business practices.   We provide services for our client not to them. Our goal is to create for our client’s environmental capital one facility at a time.

For more information on HospitalityGreen and the Green Concierge Certification™, visit or call (845) 436-6173.
Adrianne Picciano, Project Coordinator
Tel: (845) 436-6173

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


EPA and NPMA Partner to Promote Bed Bug Awareness

The EPA is partnering with the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) to help raise public awareness about bed bugs and what people can do to help curb infestations. The EPA has resources for communities to learn how to prevent, detect and control bed bug infestations.  Obtaining accurate information is the first step in both prevention and control. While there are no quick fixes scientists are working on a non-chemical remedy they believe will be fail proof once developed. This development was featured in a New York Times article in April 2013. Currently, there are effective strategies to control bed bugs using both non-chemical and chemical methods.
Simple precautions can help prevent bed bug infestation in your home:
  • Check secondhand furniture, beds and couches for any signs of bed bug infestation before bringing them home.
  • Reduce clutter in your home to reduce hiding places for bed bugs.
  • When traveling, use hotel room luggage racks to hold your luggage when packing or unpacking rather than setting your luggage on the bed or floor.
The EPA has the following bed bug resources:
Bed Bugs in Schools Webinar
On Thursday, April 25 from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm ET, the EPA and the NPMA will co-host the webinar Understanding Bed Bugs in Schools. Presentations will describe proactive steps, such as how to prevent bed bugs, and how to manage bed bug hot spots in schools. To register for the webinar, please visit
The National Pest Management Association is a gold-level member of the EPA’s Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP) and has declared April 22-26 Bed Bug Awareness Week.  To learn more about PESP, go to
For information from the NPMA on bed bugs, visit

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Weight of Water by: Mary Caperton Morton


Water weighs 8 pounds per gallon. If that doesn’t sound heavy, you’ve never been hiking in the desert with a day’s worth of drink on your back. I grew up in the Appalachian Mountains, but I didn’t learn the weight of water until I moved to New Mexico, where water is rare and precious and worth its considerable weight in blue gold.

In New Mexico, I lived off the map, caretaking a place in the wide open deserts just south of Santa Fe. The place was more than a house. It was an Earthship: an off-grid passive solar adobe, adrift on acres of land. The house wasn’t connected to the outside world by wires or pipes, only a long rough and rutted dirt road. My power and my water both came from the sky and if I wanted to run out for milk, it was a two-hour round trip into town.

The Earthship was an isolated place, but it afforded rare freedoms. Out there, I could hike in any direction to the horizon, down endless trails across open country. Between the paths, the place was wild, undulating madly in plunging arroyos and tilted sandstone. On foot, my favorite way to travel, it was a tremendous, uncharted place.

As well as I came to know the landscape around me – its contours and secrets – so I came to know myself: I knew exactly how much electricity I burned in a day, how much water I let drain in a shower. I knew how quickly I went through a bag of beans, how long I could go before I pined for town, for Santa Fe’s bright colors, its rush of voices, the thrill of a menu, a taste of the outside world. Often, weeks would pass without wanting to be anywhere but out there in all that free open space.

Living in such a wild, remote place has its challenges, the greatest of which was the lack of free-flowing water. The Earthship had no water source – no water lines, no well – other than the sky. The building’s metal roof could collect hundreds of gallons of water during a good rain, the water gushing noisily through the gutters into two 1500-gallon water cisterns buried beneath the house.

Of course it doesn’t rain much in New Mexico, on average less than twelve inches per year – this year, so far, has loosed less than six – mostly in late summer. During dry spells I called Joe, a Navajo with a big red truck that dragged an old wheeled water tank. Joe charged $40, cash, for 400 gallons of water, delivered. I mostly used the cistern water for the Earthship’s sinks and shower, the grey water that flowed down the drains went out to water the plants and to fill the toilet and bought drinking water in 5-gallon reusable jugs. On average, I used around 50 gallons of water a week. The average American household uses more than 350 gallons of water a day.
On three occasions, twice my first winter and once last year, I turned on the tap and nothing came out. That was when I learned the true weight of water. When nothing comes out of the tap but a desperate gurgling noise, the weight of water is soul crushing. Suddenly, four walls, a roof, and plenty of food, all mean nothing. Without water, you have no home. In the desert, without water, you are nothing.

Visitors to Santa Fe seldom know the weight of water, but they’ll soon memorize those ubiquitous signs above every sink in the city: Water is a finite resource, please conserve.
What effect the signs have on people, as they stand at the sink, washing their hands, brushing their teeth, I don’t know. What effect they have once people go home, to places richer in water than New Mexico, is even less certain. I know when I stand at a sink where the water flows free, I am thankful for every drop. Perhaps every now and then, taps in Santa Fe should run dry with an empty, ominous gurgle. Then perhaps more people would feel, know and remember the true weight of water.

I have been away from the Earthship’s extreme asceticism for nearly nine months now, enjoying a winter back east, closer to my roots. But even here, the sound of rain on the roof in the middle of the night is enough to jolt me out of a deep sleep, anxious to check the gutters on the (now nonexistent) rainwater collection system. Every time I turn on the tap and water flows freely, I think of the desert and the awful, desperation of running out. I hope I will feel the weight of water for the rest of my life.

About The Author

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance writer, photographer and professional housesitter who makes her home on the back roads of rural North America, living and working out of a solar-powered Teardrop camper. When she’s not at the wheel or the keyboard, she can be found outside, hiking, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Follow her travels at