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Feds encourage government employees to “travel green”. October 25, 2010

Posted by David in Green Travel, Water & Business, water conservation.
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GSA in New Bulletin to Government Agencies: Travel Green | Green Lodging News.

The lodging industry is undergoing a major shift to greener and more sustainable practices. One of the driving factors behind this shift is consumer demand. Individual travelers, businesses and corporate meeting planners have been leading the charge. Travel sites like Orbitz and Travelocity now show it in their listings if a hotel is “green certified”, which allows travel planners to make a choice up front. Various states have their own “green lodging” standards or certifications. Now the federal government has raised the bar for official travel.
“The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), on September 30, 2010, issued GSA Bulletin FTR 10-06. The purpose of the bulletin is to provide guidance to employees of agencies subject to the Federal Travel Regulation to enhance travel cost savings and reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). The bulletin includes suggestions regarding green lodging and green meetings. The guidance will improve management of agency travel programs, save money on travel costs, better protect the environment, and conserve natural resources. According to the bulletin, when managing travel programs, sustainability and protecting the interests of taxpayers must be among the prime considerations during travel planning and execution.”
Due to the quantity of federal travelers, this could be the next big shove toward green business that the travel industry needs. There are many green certifications competing for attention now, even more than a few just in the lodging industry. Although the feds don’t require that hotels meet a third-party certification, they are recommending that hotels meet one or more of the following criteria:
• LEED Certified;
• Earned EPA’s Energy Star rating;
• Participate in EPA’s Waste Wise and WaterSense programs;
• “have made a stated commitment to practicing environmentally preferable purchasing in the products and services used by the property.”
Of course here at WaterWise we are interested in the water use aspects of this trend. Unfortunately, green does not always include much attention to blue. Water efficiency is addressed differently by all of the certifying organizations. Almost all give it some level of attention, but more could be done. Hotels have a fairly high water-use profile and there exist many opportunities for improving efficiency, so the standards are not as rigorous as they might be. Common improvements suggested include the use of higher efficiency toilets, shower heads and faucet aerators in guest rooms. Linen reuse programs are another common suggestion: one that saves hotels water, energy, chemical costs and labor costs. Fairly inexpensive to implement, these programs get a fairly high level of participation from consumers, which shows that many hotel guests don’t mind a little sacrifice in order to do some good for the environment. Care must be taken, however, to rigorously train the housekeeping staff to follow the program.
Less attention is paid to other water-saving opportunities. Other savings are available in the laundry operations of hotels, like ozone water treatment. Water use in restaurant and banquet kitchens, swimming pools and spas, cooling towers, landscape irrigation and cleaning can all be improved. A water use audit by an experienced water consultant is an excellent way for a hotel property to learn more about their water use and about the many ways to reduce it cost-effectively.
Put the blue in your green–wherever you travel, make sure that water efficiency an important part of the “green travel” efforts made by you, your company, or your government agency.

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