24 Hours to Improving Sustainable Hospitality

24-hours-to-sustainable-hospitality-practicesNo matter where your property is on the sustainable hospitality spectrum, there is always room for improvement. Whether you’re LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified or just starting to consider an eco-friendly overhaul, small steps can mean big changes in your property’s overall carbon footprint.

Starting small – even with just one day – can give you and your property’s staff some quick wins and build momentum for bigger changes down the road. Environmental experts agree: Because hospitality properties have guests 24 hours a day, seven days a week, they have a higher carbon footprint than buildings in other industries.

 But you can turn that challenge into an opportunity: Having 24 hours of business also means you also have 24 hours’ worth of chances to improve your sustainability score.

So pick a day for your environmental jumpstart, get staff engaged and consider these steps for 24 hours to improving sustainable hospitality.

Clean to go Green

Energy efficiency experts say light bulbs – particularly large ones used in ballrooms, conference spaces, and lobbies – will produce more light after they’ve been cleaned. Have housekeeping staff make a point to thoroughly clean all of your indoor and outdoor lighting.

Respiratory irritants like dust love lurking in and on fans, vents and indoor grates. Cleaning will reduce irritant build-up, improving indoor air quality. Make sure that cleaning staff are outfitted with the proper gear, including masks, gloves and safety glasses.

If it’s been more than a year since the air handling units and coils of your HVAC system were cleaned, you’re overdue. Keep in mind that dust, mildew and mold thrive in moist, dark places like HVAC units.

Change All of Your Lightbulbs to CFLs

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program, compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) use about 70 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs once they get going.

Look for CFLs with the blue ENERGY STAR label and make the switch for all of your property’s fixtures.

Donate Unused or Unwanted Goods to Charity

Use your 24 hours of environmental action to collect unused toiletries, unclaimed lost-and-found items and other products that can be donated to charity. Get creative in coming up with non-profit partners: child welfare agencies may be interested in your toiletries, and the local animal shelter may take your old towels.

Get Guests in on the Act

Several years ago, a hotel in Denmark offered a unique eco-friendly perk that was a win-win for guests and the property: Guests who could generate 10 watt-hours of electricity on a stationary bicycle in the property’s gym received vouchers for a free meal.

The hotel estimated that a person of average physical fitness could complete the watt-hours goal in about 15 minutes of cycling. A smartphone strapped to the handlebars tracked the amount of power generated. Instead of a meal, you could offer loyalty points, a voucher for your gift shop or a free smoothie from the lobby restaurant.

If you don’t already, you can offer guests checking in on your environmental action day the opportunity to skip housekeeping or linen services in exchange for vouchers or loyalty points.

And instead of delivering newspapers to every room, ask guests at check-in whether they’re interested in a paper, and deliver only to those who opt-in.

Once your 24 hours to improving sustainable hospitality are over, assess how it went and make a plan for next steps. Focus both on your challenges and successes, and build from both. Were some behaviors easier than others to change? What could you do to push your environmental action out to a week, a month or a year? Remember, sometimes the biggest changes are made one day at a time.